What Is the Function or Role of the Chorous in Oedipus the King

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What is the Function or Role of the Chorus in Oedipus the King?

The chorus of Theban citizens and their leader in the play Oedipus the King have various functions which consist of looking at both sides of stories and acting almost as a voice of reason and providing balance, they also attempt to create sympathy from the audience towards Oedipus’s character as well as to provide background knowledge at the start of the play.

The voice of reason helps and attempts to guide Oedipus as he has a habit of losing his temper and overreacting to comments made by other people, whereas Creon becomes quite defensive in response to Oedipus’s accusations against him; this is when the chorus plays a part – they try to stay neutral and look at things from both sides instead of jumping to premature conclusions. One example is the leader’s response to Oedipus’s idea that Creon has plotted to become the next king: “I would suggest his words were spoken in anger, Oedipus… yours too, and it isn’t what we need.” (lines 460-1)

It is necessary to have the chorus in the play as they provide a balance to the whole story without the characters getting too unreasonable. The chorus talks less frequently in the play compared with other characters; yet when they speak they have a lot to say. When Oedipus is convinced that Creon wanted to get rid of him and take his throne, the chorus tries to talk sense into him and make him believe Creon would not dream of doing such a thing: “Believe it, be sensible give way, my king, I beg you!” (lines 725-6)

The chorus also provides background knowledge for the audience and they repeat the some of the main events, making it clearer to the people watching the play. The chorus tries to explain the awful situation Thebes is in due to the plague wiping out much of their population: “Thebes is dying, look, her children stripped of pity… generations strewn on the ground unburied, unwept, the dead spreading death.” (lines 205-7) This recap of the story...