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The Chorus In Antigone Essay

1183 words - 5 pages

The Greek tragedy is one of the oldest and most enduring forms of drama. Dating back to the times before Christ, this early drama was in fact a way in which to honor the goddess Dionysius in the fields of a good harvest. From the beginning, the Chorus has been the integral factor that created much of the ancient drama that is still admired today. In fact, in the beginning of the Greek tradition, dating to 534 BC, the "plays" were only the choral odes. It was not until Thespis added actors that the brilliant Greek drama as is known was born. Hence, the chorus has always been a part of the longstanding Greek tradition. In Sophocles' Antigone, this importance is not lost, but instead magnified to colossal proportions. The chorus has several important jobs in Greek drama. First, it offers the audience the past history of characters in the play. Also, the chorus lets the audience know of deaths that have occurred off stage, so that the morals of Greek tradition are not compromised by the play. The chorus is also the voice of the people and gives advice to the other characters in the play. Lastly, and most importantly, the chorus provides the moral mouthpiece of the playwright and the meaning of the story. In the ways, the chorus proves to be of limitless importance and Antigone uses all of them in rare fashion.The chorus first proves to be instrumental by bringing the audience up to date on actions that have already taken place before the beginning of the play. This is especially important in Antigone, where the play is actually the third part of Sophocles' dramatic trilogy. This characteristic, therefore, allows the audience to follow the story without having to refer to the previous parts. The chorus early on refers to the misfortune of Oedipus' line saying "the sorrows in the house of the Labdacidae are heaped upon the sorrows of the dead; and generation is not freed by generation" (131). The chorus, in this instance, also works as a foreshadowing agent by saying that this force of misfortune is inevitable. The chorus goes on to say that "some god strikes them down, and the race hath no deliverance" (131). The chorus also tells the audience myths that apply symbolically to the plot and to the wrenching actions of decisions that the characters often make. The chorus makes reference to the dangers of stubbornness, a trait that both Antigone and Creon display earlier, by relating them to "that king of the Edoninans; so he paid for his frenzied taunts, when, by the will of Dionysius, he was pent in a rocky kingdom" (165). It can also be seen here that the chorus adds the traditions of Greek belief, the myths and the gods, into the framework of the play. Also, one would note the mentioning the goddess Dionysius for whom this tragedy was originally performed. One reason for the unusual amount of background information is that Sophocles wrote Antigone before either of the two volumes in this trilogy. Regardless of why, this is a trait of the chorus fully...

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