The Role of Tiresias Within the Play: Oedipus Rex

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The Role Of Tiresias within the Play: Oedipus Rex Characters in a play serve the purpose of giving the reader a story. Without characters, there is no story. Every character has a purpose. Some characters have a strong role, moving with intent and design while playing upon the personality and desire of other characters. In the play Oedipus Rex by Sophocles, the character Tiresias acts as a guide within the plot. He holds the key to advancement and seemingly controls the final outcome of many of the characters lives. Tiresias serves the purpose of motivating and propelling the main character Oedipus through the story. Through values such as truth, knowledge and faith, Tiresias controls the fate of Oedipus the King. Tiresias is a blind soothsayer or rather, a prophet. As a prophet, Tiresias is ordained to tell the truth. Along with his prophetic insight, comes the responsibility and obligation to tell the truth in any circumstance. He claims that "the truth has power" (p. 25 Knox). Tiresias uses this power of truth to control Oedipus' fate. He reveals a truth to Oedipus, that will change his life forever. Tiresias tells Oedipus that "the truth with all its' strength is in [him]" (p. 23), meaning it's a part of w Continue...


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It is through this knowledge that Tiresias gains control over Oedipus. Oedipus attempts to divert this knowledge at all costs, but only ends up confirming Tiresias' knowledge when he realizes he has fulfilled the prophecy on his own. Alongside with Tiresias' strong awareness of his power of truth , he also stores great knowledge. 19), similar to God holding his people in his hands. As a blind prophet, Tiresias uses positive qualities such as knowledge, truth and faith to control Oedipus' future of negative misfortune. The future is a stronghold that can not be changed. Oedipus uses strong, harsh, and even vulgar words against Tiresias, but Tiresias stands strong in his abilities and power, while keeping his faith. He runs headlong into the fulfillment of the prophecy. He soon learns that Tiresias was right and that Laius was his father whom he killed, and Jocasta is his mother whom he married. Oedipus seeks out Tiresias so that he can find the murderer of Laius. He hints to Oedipus that he is "the enemy of his own flesh and blood" (p. Tiresias is so confident in himself that even when Oedipus later calls him "a lying quack.