• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Sophocles allegedly said that he portrayed his characters as they ought to be, Euripides as they are. To what extent would you agree with this statement?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Sophocles allegedly said that he portrayed his characters as they ought to be, Euripides as they are. To what extent would you agree with this statement? The characters in Sophocles' tragedies are very different to those in Euripides' for a number of reasons; Sophocles tends to give his characters more heroic features, whereas Euripides is more concerned with portraying the human weaknesses of his characters. Indeed, Sophocles' Oedipus is considered Aristotle to be the archetypal tragic hero, suggesting the heroic qualities of the character. Euripides' characters tend to be more flawed, such as Medea with her jealous nature, and Hippolytus, who displays the impious arrogance of youth. The striking realism of Euripides's Electra has been discussed by many commentators over the years, adding to the argument that Euripides portrayed his characters as they are. Throughout Electra we are presented with the horrific concept of matricide, combined with a disturbingly realistic group of characters. The cowardice of Orestes, displayed, for example, in the way in which he killed Aegisthus: 'Orestes...struck him on the joint of the neck' and the self-pitying obstinacy of Electra: 'My misery is unbearable' are far more realistic characters than an audience would usually expect to be portrayed on stage, not only bringing the action of the play closer to the audience, but also making the crime of matricide even more harrowing, as it becomes a far more realistic idea. ...read more.

Middle

Antigone, despite her predisposition for martyrdom, is essentially a character acting through her own sense of honour: 'Death longs for the same rites for all', whereas Electra acts out of pure, malevolent vengeance. It is differences such as these in two very similar characters that reinforce the statement that Euripides portrayed characters as they were, Sophocles as they ought to be, for although both of their characters were flawed and committed crimes, the motives of Sophocles' characters tended to be more honourable, and appeared to be more concerned with the will of the Gods rather than personal gain or vengeance. These essential differences may seem to be very small, but our perceptions of the characters are easily manipulated by our assumptions of their motives, and Sophocles manages to instil honour into even the most base aspects of his characters, for instance Antigone's wilful acts of treason, and Oedipus' conceit and inclination to jump to conclusions. The character of Oedipus, who is considered by many to be the epitome of the tragic hero, is characteristic of Sophocles' intentions to portray his characters 'as they ought to be'. The character shows the typical elements of a Greek tragic hero; he is a good man that comes to a bad end due to a 'Hamartia'. ...read more.

Conclusion

Sophocles, on the other hand, in his portrayal of Oedipus, shows us a character who, although flawed, is heroic enough to realise this, and truly regrets his mistakes and ill-fortune at the end of the play, showing an heroic man portrayed as he should be. Throughout his plays, Sophocles portrayed his characters as they should be; heroic, honourable and pious, and even the flaws of these characters do not detract from the fact that they are true tragic heroes, as their motives remain honourable. In contrast to this, Euripides presented his characters in a far more realistic light, although this increased sense of realism does not necessarily detract from the dramatic quality of his plays. The continued fascination with both of these tragedians is for very different qualities, and while Euripides provides more realistic characters, with less impressive motives, more comprehendible aims, and moral standards that the audience are able to understand, Sophocles' characters seem to belong to a higher caste, with far more heroic natures. It is through contrasts such as these that heighten both our understanding and appreciation of Greek Tragedy, and the two playwrights, so precisely summed up in the words of Sophocles, are instrumental to the classical world and its arts. Louise Phillips U6 EYS Sophocles allegedly said that he portrayed his characters as they ought to be, Euripides as they are. To what extent would you agree with this statement? (1999) 1 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Classics section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Classics essays

  1. Peer reviewed

    To what extent are the characters in Ovid metamorphes real and not stereotypical

    4 star(s)

    From the above paragraph one can conclude that Ovid does not portray good and evil in a black and white sense but rather in shades of grey most likely due to the narrative/objective approach. Ironic parts to his work include the fact that the safeguard of the kingdom, the purple

  2. Compare and Contrast the characters of Hektor and Paris and draw close character analysis ...

    "Shining in his raiment and his own beauty; you would not think that he came from fighting against a man; you would think he was going rather to dance, or rested and had been dancing lately". This description is very insightful as Homer is almost suggesting that Paris is only

  1. Social Historical Background - Antigone

    A fight ensues and the brothers kill eachother. An audience, upon learning the characters were descendants of the incestuous Oedipus, would have perceived Antigone and her sister as filthy, cursed individuals. The audience would expect the characters to commit grave and shocking crimes.

  2. Compare and Contrast the Portrayal of Clytemnestra in Agamemnon and Electra

    However, Clytemnestra's actions may be said to speak louder than her words. She marries Electra to a peasant far below her position as princess and banishes her to live with him in his hut.

  1. Hippolytus by Euripides

    Her characterisation also shows that Euripides has developed the character of a person of a lower rank, something he does often, to a much deeper extent than other ancient Greek dramatists.

  2. To what extent do you agree that Phaedra and Hippolytus are in control of ...

    This ultimately affects his defence when confronted by Theseus about Phaedra's suicide note. However, this does not necessarily suggest that Hippolytus was not in control of his own destiny as it is after all his own choice whether or not to keep the oath and its only his pious attitude

  1. "By the end of his plays, Euripides leaves the audience without one character to ...

    In 'Hecabe', we can sympathise with the title character when she is grief stricken and has to watch and allow her daughter to go off and be sacrificed to Achilles. However, Hecabe, then turns slightly mad, actually she does go mad and turns into a raving savage when she orders Polymestor's eyes to be scratched out.

  2. In Milton's Paradise Lost, Satan, one of the main characters in the story, exhibits ...

    When he is born, Apollo's oracle predicts that Oedipus will kill his father and marry his mother. This foretelling leads Oedipus' parents to abandon him on the mountain-side and leave him to die. However, fate intervenes and Oedipus soon finds himself adopted by the King and Queen of Corinth.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work