Characterization in Oedipus the King Essay

Characterization in Oedipus the King Essay

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Characterization in Oedipus Rex        

 
   The dialogue, action and motivation revolve about the characters in the story (Abrams 32-33). It is the purpose of this essay to demonstrate the types of characters present in Sophocles’ tragic drama, Oedipus Rex, whether static or dynamic, whether flat or round, and whether protrayed through showing or telling.

 

Werner Jaeger in “Sophocles’ Mastery of Character Development” pays the dramatist 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 at times is involved in telling the audience various pieces of information. At the outset of Oedipus Rex the reader sees a king who comes to the door full of curiosity: “Explain your mood and purport. Is it dread /Of ill that moves you or a boon ye crave?” When the priest has responded that the people are despairing from the effects of the plague, the king shows another dimension to his character with his deep sympathy for his subjects: “Ye sicken all, well wot I, yet my pain, /How great soever yours, outtops it all.” Shortly thereafter a second round character makes his appearance on stage in the pers...


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...and Creon become so later in the tragedy. Rarely does the dramatist use the chorus to convey information; most of this comes from exchanges of dialogue, which would be the showing technique.

 

WORKS CITED

 

Abrams, M. H. A Glossary of Literary Terms, 7th ed. New York: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1999.

 

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.

http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/etcbin/browse-mixed new?tag=public&images=images/modeng&data=/texts/english/modeng/parsed&part=0&id=SopOedi

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Characterization in Oedipus the King Essay

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