The Existence of Literary Characters and Non-verbal Motivation in Sophoclean Tragedy


  • Brane Senegačnik Oddelek za klasično filologijo, Filozofska fakulteta Univerze v Ljubljani
  • Sergej Valijev Inštitut za slovensko literaturo in literarne vede ZRC SAZU



drama text, existence of a literary work of art, phenomenology, Roman Ingarden, reader’s role, Sophocles, motivation


Since we do not possess any original stage directions, the whole world of each play (psychological and material reality included) is represented exclusively by the words spoken by the characters. Roman Ingarden calls this type of representation schematic because the objects represented in this way are only outlined: there are innumerable places of indeterminacy in their literary representation that invite the reader to fill them up using his or her intellectual capabilities, knowledge, experience, and imagination in the process of concretization or reconstruction. Both concretization and reconstruction are to be distinguished from the work itself: since they are formed by the reader’s imagination, they present an obstacle to the cognition of the work itself. Ingarden’s theory has been criticized for ‘providing the reader with far too much leeway in constituting the concretization and even in the reconstruction of a literary work of art’ (Ray, Kos, Holub, Calinescu). The objections, however, seem to be based on a somewhat simplified understanding of Ingarden’s complex analysis, in which the role of the reader, although limited to a certain extent by the text, appears to be vital to the secondary existence of a literary work of art. The non-verbal factors of motivation in the Sophoclean tragedy interpreted in this paper are divided into three groups: character traits, dramatic atmosphere, and sensory experience. The article closes with an analysis of Odysseus’ motivation in Ajax: his case is exceptional as we are presented with the numinous experience as the obvious factor of a character’s motivation. 


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How to Cite

Senegačnik, Brane, and Sergej Valijev. 2022. “The Existence of Literary Characters and Non-Verbal Motivation in Sophoclean Tragedy”. Clotho 4 (1):5-27.