In drama, the speeches of a character should illuminate his or her nature, relate to events taking place at the time, and help explain both the character and what happens to him or her. This should be the case no matter how long or how short the speech may be--each element in the speech should convey information about the person speaking. This can be seen with reference to the play Oedipus Rex by Sophocles and to the characters of Oedipus, Creon, and Teiresias. Waldock emphasizes that this is a play of character (Waldock 144), and this is evident in the speeches cited below.
The primary conflict in Oedipus Rex is internal and takes place in the character of Oedipus as he fights against recognizing the truth until he is forced to do so. Everything that occurs has been foretold, and yet Oedipus has not recognized that his actions will lead to the consequences the gods have warned will occur. Oedipus is thus a criminal, and because he is a king, his criminal action has effects for the people he rules
Oedipus feels the pain of his people and tells them so:
I pity you, children. You have come full of longing,
but I have known the story before you told it
only too well. I know you are all sick,
yet there is not one of you, sick though you are,
that is as sick as I myself (58-61).
These changes in the environment are caused by the crime committed by Oedipus when he fulfilled the prophecy about killing his father and marrying his mother, though he does not know this. The people have learned from the oracle that someone is a criminal in the kingdom, and Oedipus vows to ferret out the culprit, not knowing that he is looking for himself. The fact that the environment changes because a king has committed a crime is itself a manifestation of the supernatural and a recognition of the fact that a king has special responsibilities as the leader of his people--he in effect represents the masses and further h...