Oedipus Rex or Oedipus the King

The Quest for Truth in Oedipus Rex

Frank Kermode writes in his book The Genesis of Secrecy "We are most unwilling to accept mystery, what cannot be reduced to other and more intelligible forms. Yet that is what we find here: something irreducible, therefore perpetually to be interpreted; not secrets to be found out one by one, but Secrecy" (143). Sophocles' play Oedipus Rex illustrates Kermode's distinction between secrets and Secrecy by showing how the seeker of truth taints the discovery of any secret with his/her presuppositions and interpretation. Both Oedipus, the main character of the play, and the audience pursue the answers to Oedipus' past but find a reflection of their own presumptions in place of the truth. Oedipus exhibits the natural fallacy of human reasoning when confronted with secrecy: to project one's own conclusions and narrow-mindedness onto the answer. Through the play the audience leans that pursuing secrets one by one with the tools of human intellect leads to the frustration of Secrecy in general: there is no truth available to humans that was not in some part self-invented.

Oedipus' attempt to discover the secrets of his past blinds him to the truth and proves that humans do not have the capability to...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 724 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 4182 literature essays, 1403 sample college application essays, 171 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in