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Oedipus Rex – The Characterization

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Oedipus Rex – The Characterization         

   Sophocles’ tragic drama, Oedipus Rex, presents to the reader a full range of characters: static and dynamic, flat and round; they are protrayed mostly through the showing technique.


Thomas Van Nortwick in Oedipus: The Meaning of a Masculine Life describes Oedipus as he is seen at the opening of the drama, as a father to his Theban citizens:


In his opening words to the pathetic crowd of suppliants, Oedipus invokes images meant to reassure. As ruler, he is a father to Thebes and its citizens, and like a father he will take care of his “children.” We see already the supreme self-confidence and ease of command in Oedipus, who can address not only other people’s children as his own, but also be a father to men older than he is (21-22).


As protagonist, Oedipus is at the center of the story. The dialogue, action and motivation revolve about the characters in the story (Abrams 32-33). Werner Jaeger in “Sophocles’ Mastery of Character Development” pays the dramatist Sophocles the very highest compliment with regard to character development:


The ineffaceable impression which Sophocles makes on us today and his imperishable position in the literature of the world are both due to his character-drawing. If we ask which of the men and women ofGreek tragedy have an independent life in the imagination apart from the stage and from the actual plot in which they appear, we must answer, ‘those created by Sophocles, above all others’ (36).


Surely  it can be said of Sophocles’ main characters that they grow beyond the two dimensional aspect into really rounded physical presences. This is done through mostly the showing technique, though the chorus...

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...ublishers, 1999.


Benardete, Seth. “Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus.” In Sophocles: A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by Thomas Woodard. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1966.


Ehrenberg, Victor. “Sophoclean Rulers: Oedipus.” In Twentieth Century Interpretations of Oedipus Rex, edited by Michael J. O’Brien. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968.


Jaeger, Werner. “Sophocles’ Mastery of Character Development.” In Readings on Sophocles, edited by Don Nardo. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1997.


Sophocles. Oedipus Rex. Transl. by F. Storr. no pag. new?tag=public&images=images/modeng&data=/texts/english/modeng/parsed&part=0&id=SopOedi


Van Nortwick, Thomas.  Oedipus: The Meaning of a Masculine Life. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1998.


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