Today we’ll start with two Foster presentations. I’m including a nutshell version of these below.
Then we watched the vegetable version of Oedipus as background for Antigone (Oedipus was her dad and half-brother):
Afterward, Ms. Bjelland had you map out some of the ways that Oedipus follows the tragic structure, and then asked you to use that story and the tragic structure to make some predictions about Antigone.
In 5th hour, we also got to talk about how blindness gets used in the story of Oedipus.
Lots of literature borrows from itself. We see recurring patterns or archetypes throughout literature.
Archetypes are often so old and so embedded in our collective memory that it’s hard to say where they come from (think about the hero on a quest, the wise old man, etc.)
- There are archetypal characters
- There are archetypal plots
One common archetypal pattern is the Quest narrative. Foster says there are five elements to this archeytpal plot:
- A Quester
- A place to go
- A stated reason to go
- Challenges along the way
- The real reason to go
And, according to Foster, the real reason to go is always self-knowledge.
In life, blindness is just one of the many ways humans can be differently-abled. And in contemporary literature, we would hope to see blind characters developed as authentic, complex characters with their own stories to live and tell.
However in classic literature, a blind character often functions symbolically:
- When a blind character shows up (usually early in the piece so we know there’s something to LOOK for), it’s often a signpost that something important and hidden is about to come to light.
- The blind character often has divine/spiritual sight, wisdom, the gift of prophecy, can see the REAL truths and knows the truth is painful.
- The seeing characters refer to “sight” a lot, are oblivious to the truth, become obsessed with “finding the truth” or “bringing it to light,” and often become physically blind when s/he gains spiritual truths/insight.
- Note that blindness will show up in all kinds of places when it’s functioning symbolically: descriptions, arguments, dialogue, choral odes, everywhere–not just in the physically blind character. Words to look for include: sight, seeing, insight, blindness, wisdom, light, darkness.