5 Mar 2021

MA English Part.1 Play Oedipus Rex The Role of Chorus

The Role of Chorus in Oedipus Rex

In Greek tragedy, chorus plays inevitable part and Greek tragedy is incomplete without participation of chorus. Aristotle says that chorus should be like one of the characters. The functions of the chorus are numerous in ancient classical tragedies. Typically, every Greek tragedy begins with the entry of chorus same like it ends with the final song sung by the chorus. Chorus represents the view of a dramatist.

The play ‘Oedipus Rex’ opens with the entry of chorus. In the first scene of prologue, the chorus projects the catastrophe of Thebes, appreciates the attitude of king Oedipus and the message that has been brought by the oracle of Delphi. In the rest of the play, the chorus criticizes and comments on the actions of the play.

Chorus plays the role of a peace-maker when there goes a hot discussion between king Oedipus and Creon and is successful in winning pardon for the latter. Chorus is a wise person and a loyal to king Oedipus. When Tiresias departs after revealing the truth, Chorus comments on the horrors of prediction but is determined and takes the side of the king.

The most significance response of chorus is seen at the time when king Oedipus and Jocaste show irreverent thoughts against oracles. When Oedipus says that he is the son of goodness of luck, chorus sings that Oedipus is the son of Apollo himself. The fifth and final ode of the chorus is somewhat controversial. This ode should never be considered as the final impression of the play. Oedipus is heroic like even after his decline.

The chorus takes part in the conversation with other characters of the play. When the king consults with chorus about the ending of prevailing plague, the chorus comments that Oracles might have given them any clue for tracking king Laius’ murderer, Oedipus replies that it is not possible to make a god speak more than his will. When Creon is labeled with treason charges by king Oedipus, Creon consults with Chorus who opines that king might have said this in anger.

In a scene of the play, when there goes a hot discussion between Oedipus and Creon, Queen Jocaste comes there and she consults with Choragos. They request her to settle the difference between the two. It is clear that chorus does never take part direct in any action of the play but influences the action in various subtle ways.

The contribution of the Chorus in the play is wonderful. They are ideal spectators, peace-maker, influencer and commentator. The importance of the role of chorus cannot be denied. It plays a vital role in ancient Greek tragic plays.


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