In the play “Phaedra” by the ancient Greek playwright Euripides, the chorus plays a significant role in advancing the themes of the play and providing commentary on the characters’ actions. The chorus consists of a group of women from Troezen who serve as a collective voice for the audience, expressing their opinions and reactions to the events of the play.
One of the primary roles of the chorus in “Phaedra” is to provide context and background information for the audience. They begin the play with a prologue that sets the scene and introduces the major characters. They also provide information about the gods and their influence on the mortal world, as well as the societal expectations and norms of ancient Greece.
The chorus also serves to highlight the themes of the play, particularly the destructive nature of passion and desire. They express their sympathy for Phaedra’s plight, but also condemn her actions and the consequences that result from her unbridled passion. Through their songs and speeches, the chorus emphasizes the tragic consequences that can arise from giving in to one’s desires and ignoring the consequences of one’s actions.
In addition to their thematic role, the chorus also serves to comment on the characters’ actions and motivations. They offer their opinions on Phaedra’s decision to pursue her stepson, Hippolytus, and condemn him for his pride and stubbornness. They also comment on the actions of Theseus, Phaedra’s husband, and his absence from the play’s main action.
Finally, the chorus serves to provide a sense of unity and community in the face of tragedy. They mourn the loss of Phaedra and Hippolytus, and express their grief and sorrow through song and dance. Their communal lamentation helps to underscore the tragic nature of the events in the play and provides a cathartic release for the audience.
In conclusion, the chorus in “Phaedra” plays a significant role in advancing the themes of the play and providing commentary on the characters’ actions. They provide context and background information, highlight the destructive nature of passion and desire, comment on the characters’ motivations and actions, and offer a sense of community and unity in the face of tragedy. Through their songs and speeches, the chorus serves as a powerful tool for the playwright to convey his message and engage the audience’s emotions and intellect.