24 Feb 2019

MA English Par.1 Punjab University Paper.2 Drama Oedipus Rex the Role of Chorus



         The Role of Chorus in the play Oedipus Rex

paper.2 drama Oedipus rex the role of chorus

                                                   The Role of Chorus

In the Greek tragedies, the importance of the role of the chorus cannot be denied.
It would not be wrong to say that Greek tragedy originated from Chorus. Aristotle is of the view that Chorus must be considered as characters.

      “The chorus should be regarded as one of the actors; it should be an integral part of the whole and take a share in the action-that which it has in Sophocles rather than in Euripides.”

Chorus is a group of singers and dancers who comments on the main story and actions of the play. In Greek drama Festivals which was held yearly, it was the duty of the state to provide chorus. But with the passage there occur a decline in the use of Chorus, especially in classical tragedies. In these tragedies, the role of the Chorus became less and less.

Chorus plays an important function in ancient Greek tragedies. The structures of the Greek tragedies were determined in terms of Chorus. These tragedies usually ended with the last commentary, exit song of the Chorus. The choral songs were called stasima. 

The stage of Oedipus play is never free from the presence of the Chorus. Even we feel the presence of Chorus while there is a private discussion between Oedipus and his wife Jocaste. Chorus in its songs questions the characters and evidently plays a role of moderator. It sometimes becomes the spokesman of the dramatist.

In the play Oedipus Rex Chorus plays an important role in the progress of the drama. It may be said that out of three Sophocles’ best known plays, the function of the chorus is the most important in Oedipus Rex. Soon after the prologue, the chorus in its first ode projects the sad and the pathetic situation of Thebe and it also comments and elaborates the message which is brought from the Delphic Oracle.

In the Odes between the play, Chorus comments the current situation being faced in the play. Chorus plays the role of peacemaker between the king Oedipus and Creon and is successful in winning the pardon for Creon, the brother of Queen. When Tiresias departs after a hot discussion with Oedipus and after making some predictions, Chorus comments on the apprehensions of these predictions but shows its determination to side with the King Oedipus.

When King Oedipus and Jocaste show disrespect to the prophecies of the Oracles,it gives a moderate and significant response. When Oedipus imagines that he is the son of goodness of luck, the Chorus immediately afterwards sing that their master Oedipus might be the son of Apollo himself.

In this play, Oedipus Rex, Chorus take part in the dialogue also. When king Oedipus accuses Creon of treason, Chorus says that the king has uttered these words in a fit of anger. When there goes hot arguments between king and Creon, Jocaste comes on the scene and talks to Chorus who in response suggests her to settle the dispute between them. 

In the beginning scene of the play when the king is worried about the miserable plight of the Thebe, he consults with Chorus. They tell him that Oracles had guided him the identity of Laius’ murderer. Oedipus says that no one can force the gods to speak more than their will.

In another scene, they also tell that they know the murderer of king Laius and the circumstance in which the king was killed. Chorus’ role is undeniable in this play. They play the role of active spectators and fill the gaps between the dialogues and the actions of the play.

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