Although many commentators have dealt with various aspects of
structure in Sophoclean drama, G. M. Kirkwood contends that
"Sophocles' mastery of dramatic form is accepted with casual and
superficial deference rather than fully and clearly understood."
This book shows how Sophocles' method of presenting character, his
unique handling of myth, his predilection for presenting ideas by
comparison and contrast, and his principles of structure are so
closely related that they serve to clarify each other.
In an analysis of the form of Sophocles' seven extant plays,
Kirkwood demonstrates the existence of several deliberate and
distinct types of dramatic construction. Sophocles' use of the
chorus, his irony, and certain aspects of diction are considered as
a part of his dramatic art and as elements of structure. Kirkwood
discusses a number of traditional problems, among them questions of
consistency and meaning in passages from Ajax,
Antigone, and Electra. He also considers the
problem of "diptych" structure, and shows that it is a definite
dramatic shape, of primary importance in understanding the three
plays in which it appears.
Distinctive Sophoclean concepts in which the words
eugenes and daimon are conspicuous, the meaning
of tragedy in relation to Sophocles' plays, and Sophocles' outlook
on deity and on man and his fate are also subjects of illuminating
discussions. This book offers ample evidence to support Kirkwood's
contention that, "Only when we inquire into the means by which
Sophocles invests his plays with their constant air not only of
relevance but of immediacy do we begin to understand Sophoclean
Subjects: Language & Literature
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