Major and Minor Characters in Literature


A lock cannot be unlocked without a key that fits into hole. Many literatures form the lock-and-key relationship through their major and minor characters. While major characters lead the story, minor characters add the key elements of the story

that would make the story to have meaningful moments. Major characters are locks that cannot be unlocked and see what is really locked in. However, the minor characters play the role of key that can unlock what is locked within and reveal the hidden excitements to the readers. The writers are unable to dispense those minor characters because they are driving force of the major characters and have important role in the play, for example, Tiresias from the play Oedipus Rex by Sophocles. Also, they are indispensable because of their capability to add intensity to the story and ability to carry moral lessons to the readers, exemplified by Lady Macbeth from the play Macbeth by Shakespeare.

First, minor characters are indispensable because they can be the driving force of the major characters throughout the story. Tiresias, the blind messenger, in the play, Oedipus Rex, gives an important message about the fate of Oedipus the king. Surprised by what is predicted by the fortune teller, Oedipus shows a very upset reaction. Oedipus blames and mocks Tiresias for foretelling such prediction about Oedipus’s fate. In this scene, the reader can clearly see the state of emotion of Oedipus and how his emotions change after he hears the prediction. Also, one can find that the prediction drives Oedipus to avoid the events that would occur according to the prediction, but he fails to change his fate. Many tragic events occur in the process of Oedipus trying to reject his fate. Because of Tiresias and his prediction, the play is allowed to have interesting and tragic moments. Tiresias is the driving force of Oedipus and his actions and gives intense moments throughout the play.

Tiresias also cannot be left out because of his role in the play. The role of fortune teller is very important in the play, Oedipus Rex, not only because he gives the message to Oedipus but also because he gives the assurance of dramatic irony to the readers and tragedy to the characters in the play. Oedipus leaves Corinth after hearing the prediction made by the Oracle at Delphi, believing that he can change his fate and outsmart the gods. However, as he arrives to Thebes and takes the throne at Thebes, the prediction comes true. Then Tiresias visits Oedipus to tell him about his cursed fate and assures the readers about the dramatic irony. Because of this role of Tiresias, he cannot be dispensed from the play. The writer displays his literature strategy, the dramatic irony, by using Tiresias as the carrier of the element. The dramatic irony used in the play makes the story line much more intense and grabs the attention of the readers. Therefore, Tiresias is indispensable because of his role in the play of delivering the dramatic irony.

Minor characters become indispensable when they are the intense-situation makers. Lady Macbeth creates an intense situation from the play, Macbeth by Shakespeare. Macbeth informs his wife, Lady Macbeth, of his destiny that he heard from the witches. When Macbeth arrives to his castle at Inverness, he says that he will murder King Duncan that night. However, Macbeth becomes unconscious and hesitant. He becomes unsure if he should commit the murder and take the throne of Scotland in an inappropriate way. In this scene, Lady Macbeth adds the intensity to the story. She removes Macbeth’s hesitation and convinces Macbeth to kill Duncan and take the throne. Lady Macbeth tells Macbeth about the glory and power he will have till his death. Macbeth is convinced and determined to kill Duncan while Duncan is asleep. Lady Macbeth also becomes the hostess of the party before the night of murder, putting everyone in pleasant condition, and puts guards of the king drunk so Macbeth can murder the king. Lady Macbeth plays the key role in murdering King Duncan because she prepares everything for Macbeth. She plays the role of demon in the play because she puts temptation on Macbeth and does all of the evil works for Macbeth. Her evil works are able to add intensity to the play and prepares the tragedy that will happen to Macbeth in the future. This is why Shakespeare cannot leave Lady Macbeth, a minor character, out because she creates intensity and tragedy, which represents Shakespeare’s plays.

Lady Macbeth is indispensable because she is a minor character that carries moral of the play. She prepares the evil works for Macbeth but commits suicide after finding out that reinforcements arrived with Malcolm, the son of King Duncan to take over Scotland. Her actions and death displays human corruption very well. She was blinded by the power, wealth, glory, and honor that are achievable after killing King Duncan. Lady Macbeth shows how evil can never prevail. Shakespeare displays one of the morals from the play through his minor character, Lady Macbeth. Shakespeare shows the human corruption caused by power and how the forces evil can never overcome those of good and is destined to fail by depicting the failure, Lady Macbeth, and this makes Lady Macbeth indispensable from the play, Macbeth.

Many of the minor characters in the literatures and plays have important roles for the existence. The writers put the minor characters because they are the elements that will make their works more valuable. The minor characters can be the ultimate driving force of the stories, and add intensity to the stories, which attracts the readers. Many people may think the major characters are the ones that give the morals of the works but writers also use the minor characters to give the messages that they could not express through the major characters to the readers. As a reader finds the role of the minor character in a literature work, one may find that the character is the key that fits into the lock and is indispensable.

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