Supporting Characters: Added Story Depth
Without supporting characters, most plays would be akin to an orchestra without a violin section, i.e., the foundation is there, but it lacks completion and brilliance. Although supporting characters often have minor roles in the plot, they generally enhance the story and entertain the reader. They also add controversy and directly affect the main character's course of actions or the plot sequence. Sophocles's play Antigone, is greatly enriched by its supporting cast, specifically by the sentry and Ismene. The play's main characters, Antigone and Creon, are critical to the plot; however, what adds depth to the play in many ways are the supporting characters.
One of the best examples of a supporting character in Antigone is the sentry to whom Sophocles assigns a dual role. The sentry serves two basic functions: comedian and storyteller for the audience, or simply, a messenger. Sophocles uses the sentry's narrative to efficiently inform the audience about events and occurrences taking place offstage; facets of the play which cannot be preformed onstage due to their violence or elaborate staging.
"She was burying the man with her owns hands, and that's the truth...I saw her myself, burying the body of the man/whom you said not to bury. Don't I speak plain?" (137) The sentry adds depth of understanding for the audience by informing them of critical plot twists or changes that are not and cannot actually be viewed.
Theban plays are mostly dramatic tragedies, yet are constructed with an element of humor to lighten their dire plot. Thus, another way in which the sentry gives depth to the play is by his comedic persona. He is an amusing character and was added specifically to make the audience chuckle. The sentry's first speech, preceding his delivery of the bad news...