Examining Characters' Blindness in "Oedipus Rex" and "The Glass Menagerie"

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About this sample


Words: 1401 |

Pages: 3|

8 min read

Published: Oct 22, 2018

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Words: 1401|Pages: 3|8 min read

Published: Oct 22, 2018

Essay grade:
arrow downward Read Review

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Blindness to the Past: Denial of Deeds
  3. Blindness to the Present: Ignoring Reality
  4. Blindness to the Future: Fear of the Unknown
  5. Conclusion
  6. References


In the tapestry of human existence, individuals often grapple with their own shortcomings, and one common defense mechanism is the act of turning a blind eye to certain aspects of reality. Blindness, in a metaphorical sense, becomes a buffer from the uncomfortable truths and harsh realities that life often presents. Throughout the annals of literature, characters who exhibit various forms of blindness have fascinated readers and offered a rich terrain for exploration. In this essay, we will delve into the concept of blindness as portrayed in two literary masterpieces: "Oedipus Rex" by Sophocles and "The Glass Menagerie" by Tennessee Williams. By analyzing characters from these works, we will categorize them based on their blindness to the past, present, and future, shedding light on their intricate psychological makeup and the profound impact their blindness has on the unfolding narratives.

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Blindness to the Past: Denial of Deeds

One category of blindness prevalent in both "Oedipus Rex" and "The Glass Menagerie" is characters' inability to confront their own past actions. These individuals remain oblivious to the consequences of their previous deeds, often due to a psychological defense mechanism that shields them from guilt and self-recrimination.

In Sophocles' "Oedipus Rex," the titular character, Oedipus, serves as a striking example of blindness to the past. Despite compelling evidence and prophecies that suggest his involvement in the murder of King Laius, his own father, Oedipus vehemently denies any wrongdoing. He instead accuses Creon of conspiring against him, displaying a deep-seated reluctance to acknowledge his role in the tragedy. Even when confronted by the venerable Tiresias, who foretells his grim fate, Oedipus clings to his blindness, refusing to accept the truth. Tiresias delivers a prophetic warning, saying, "In name he is a stranger among citizens, but soon he will be shown to be a citizen, true native Theban, and he'll have no joy of the discovery: blindness for sight and beggary for riches his exchange, he shall go journeying to a foreign country tapping his way before him with a stick..." Despite such dire revelations, Oedipus remains resolute in his denial.

Similarly, Jocasta, Oedipus's wife and mother (unbeknownst to her), exhibits blindness to the past. She has been living under the shadow of a prophecy that foretold her son would kill her husband, King Laius. To prevent this grim fate, she had abandoned her infant son. However, despite the recurring prophecies and mounting evidence that suggests the tragic truth, Jocasta remains blind to her past actions. She attempts to shield Oedipus from the painful reality, imploring him, "…not to hunt this out..." Her denial of the past's influence on the present is a poignant illustration of the human inclination to repress guilt and avoid facing the consequences of past choices.

Blindness to the Present: Ignoring Reality

Another category of blindness that emerges in both texts is the characters' inability to perceive and understand the unfolding events in their current circumstances. These individuals are so engrossed in their own perspectives and desires that they overlook the realities of the present.

In "The Glass Menagerie" by Tennessee Williams, Amanda Wingfield stands as a vivid example of blindness to the present. Amanda's character is marked by her relentless pursuit of a better future for her daughter, Laura. She orchestrates elaborate plans for Laura's education and future, specifically enrolling her in business classes. However, Amanda remains utterly blind to the impact of her actions on Laura's emotional well-being and desires. She fails to comprehend that Laura is profoundly different from her own vision of the ideal daughter. When she discovers that Laura has stopped attending her business classes, Amanda's reaction is indicative of her detachment from the present reality. She goes on an anxious rant, questioning Laura's future and lamenting, "What are we going to do, what is going to become of us, what is the future?" Her obsession with securing a prosperous future for her children blinds her to the present, preventing her from acknowledging Laura's unique needs and desires. Amanda's character demonstrates the consequences of failing to engage with the present and imposing one's vision of the future on others.

Tom, Amanda's son in "The Glass Menagerie," also falls into the category of blindness to the present. Tom's character is marked by his recklessness and lack of foresight. He is so absorbed in his desire for adventure and escape from the stifling atmosphere of his family home that he fails to consider the repercussions of his actions. Tom's decision to write a poem on the lid of a shoebox at his workplace results in his termination from his job, a consequence he seems ill-prepared for. His nonchalant attitude towards the present and disregard for the consequences of his actions illustrate the perils of ignoring the realities of the moment.

Blindness to the Future: Fear of the Unknown

The final category of blindness we encounter in these works pertains to characters who are unable to envision or accept the future. These individuals are consumed by fear and uncertainty about what lies ahead, rendering them incapable of making informed decisions or confronting the inevitable.

Amanda in "The Glass Menagerie" epitomizes blindness to the future. She is gripped by an overwhelming dread of what the future holds for her and her family. Her fear of becoming impoverished and her deep concern for her children's well-being drive her to impose her own vision of the future upon them. Amanda's terror of an uncertain future is palpable when she questions Laura about their prospects: "So what are we going to do the rest of our lives? Stay home and watch the parades go by? Amuse ourselves with the glass menagerie, darling? Eternally play those worn-out phonograph records your father left as a painful reminder of him?" Her desperation to secure a stable future blinds her to the present realities and her children's individual aspirations.

Laura, Amanda's daughter in "The Glass Menagerie," also grapples with blindness to the future. She is paralyzed by her own fears and insecurities, unable to envision a future beyond the confines of her glass figurines and her mother's expectations. Laura's apprehension about the unknown future becomes evident when she quits her business classes after a single session, citing a physical ailment as an excuse. Her inability to confront the future, fueled by her fear of failure and rejection, confines her to a narrow, isolated existence.


In the works of Sophocles and Tennessee Williams, blindness emerges as a multifaceted and compelling theme. The characters' blindness to the past, present, and future serves as a lens through which we can explore the intricacies of human psychology and the consequences of unchecked behavior.

The characters in "Oedipus Rex" and "The Glass Menagerie" are not mere literary constructs but rather reflections of the complex nature of humanity itself. They remind us that blindness, in its various forms, is an inherent part of the human experience. Whether it is denial of past actions, disregard for present realities, or fear of the uncertain future, these forms of blindness are deeply ingrained in our psyche.

As we navigate our own lives, we may find echoes of these characters within ourselves and those around us. Through their stories, we gain insight into the profound impact of blindness on our choices, relationships, and destinies. These characters, trapped in their respective forms of blindness, compel us to reflect on our own capacity for self-awareness and our willingness to confront the truths that lie before us.

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In essence, the examination of blindness in "Oedipus Rex" and "The Glass Menagerie" offers us an opportunity to delve into the depths of the human condition, inviting us to question our own blindness, recognize its presence in our lives, and strive for a clearer vision of the world around us. It is through this introspection and awareness that we may hope to transcend the limitations imposed by our own blindness and, in doing so, embrace a more enlightened existence.


  1. Sophocles. (2005). Oedipus Rex. In D. Grene & R. Lattimore (Eds. & Trans.), The Complete Greek Tragedies: Sophocles (Vol. 1, pp. 195-243). University of Chicago Press.
  2. Williams, T. (1999). The Glass Menagerie. New Directions Publishing.
  3. Segal, C. (2001). Oedipus Tyrannus: Tragic Heroism and the Limits of Knowledge. Oxford University Press.
  4. Spivack, C. (1989). Shakespeare and the Allegory of Evil: The History of a Metaphor in Relation to His Major Villains. Columbia University Press.
  5. Williams, T. (1978). Tennessee Williams: Plays 1937-1955. Library of America.
  6. Jankovich, M. (2017). Blindness in Literature: The Blind in Fiction and Drama. Routledge.
  7. Norris, M. D. (1997). The Glass Menagerie: A Collection of Critical Essays. Prentice Hall.
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While the writer’s expression is clear, there still are certain improvements that can be made to the first paragraph as well as to the rest of the essay. Firstly, it is observed that the hook sentence is too extensive since its length exceeds to four sentences when the writer discusses blindness in general. The idea of these four sentences must be combined into one very effective hook sentence which would relate to the thesis statement better. The writer has failed to provide an adequate introduction to the text so the thesis statement is not in context. The introduction must be discussed in more detail. The thesis statement is very effective and demonstrates that the writer has a critical comprehension of the text and employs analytical reasoning. The evidence presented is extensive and supports the arguments of the thesis statement but the essay may be able to secure an even higher mark by the addition of more examples from the text. The organization of the essay may be improved. This can be done by adding subheadings and then explaining only one point under each paragraph. Word choice is effective and the writer’s expression is very clear. There are several problems in sentence construction in terms of article use which need to be corrected to improve readability.

Cite this Essay

Examining Characters’ Blindness in “Oedipus Rex” and “The Glass Menagerie”. (2018, October 18). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 15, 2024, from
“Examining Characters’ Blindness in “Oedipus Rex” and “The Glass Menagerie”.” GradesFixer, 18 Oct. 2018,
Examining Characters’ Blindness in “Oedipus Rex” and “The Glass Menagerie”. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 15 Jul. 2024].
Examining Characters’ Blindness in “Oedipus Rex” and “The Glass Menagerie” [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2018 Oct 18 [cited 2024 Jul 15]. Available from:
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