Oedipus Rex or Oedipus the King

The Significance of the Chorus in Oedipus Rex

In "Oedipus Rex," the chorus represents the voice of the average citizens and contributes insight that cannot be communicated by the other characters in the play. The chorus moves along the story by announcing the arrival of characters and answering questions that help the plot progress. Sophocles also utilizes a chorus because it helps the audience to see the story from one more angle, providing a fuller picture of the situation. Representing a body of regular citizens, the chorus is level-headed, agreeably predictable, and candid, often giving voice to the thoughts and questions of the audience. Most importantly, the chorus' sympathy to Oedipus during this catastrophic period in his life pushes the audience to commiserate with the tragic hero.

The chorus serves as the primary medium between the audience and the characters of the play, revealing new perspectives to the audience that the characters themselves cannot show. Paul Roche comments in his introduction that the chorus' "function in the original (helped on by dance, spectacle, and song) was to bridge the gap between the audience and the players and to intensify emotion" (Introduction xviii). The chorus gains the audience's trust, thus...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 1731 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 10787 literature essays, 2703 sample college application essays, 653 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in