Hamlet and Oedipus Rex: The Birth of Kings

847 Words4 Pages
Hamlet and Oedipus Rex: The Birth of Kings

Two plays, "Hamlet", written by William Shakespeare and "Oedipus

Rex", written by Sophocles share a common bond of illusion and innocence.

The protagonists in both plays appear at the beginning only to have changed

so that reality has broken through the illusion with less than desirable

results for either. In these two plays, two kings must leave their

innocence behind as the truth leads them first, to enlightenment and then

to their downfall. This is a battle between the light and the darkness,

the light being the truth and the darkness being the lie. Throughout the

two plays we can see that both are isolated in a world of their own,

completely unaware of the truths surrounding them. In Hamlet's case,

growing up under the loving care of his parents, he believes that his

father died of natural causes. Or, in Oedipus' case, the main character

thinks that he has escaped Apollo's prophecy that decreed that he would

grow up and murder his father, the king, and marry his mother, the queen.

This eventually leads to the point at which both have their "eyes" opened

to the reality surrounding their "illusionary" worlds. Hamlet is

approached by the ghost of his dead father who reveals that his own brother,

Hamlet's uncle, murdered him. Oedipus Rex discovers the truth when the

blind prophet, Teiresias accuses him of being the one who murdered King

Laios therefore fulfilling his destiny in which he had sought to avoid. In

the end, the actions taken by both lead to their downfalls in different

ways, death for Hamlet and loss of vision for Oedipus Rex.

In the beginning, we see Hamlet living in an illusion blocking him

from seeing what is really there. Hamlet is under the belief that his

father died of natural causes and nothing more. As he comes to realize the

truth, he leaves behind the safe harbor of innocence and naïveté and enters

the uneasy world of adulthood and experience. Standing within his castle,

he makes a speech to himself and to God commenting on the quickness in

which his mother married his uncle. It is at this point where the

beginning of the end of his innocence starts. He believes that by marrying

his uncle, his mother betrayed his father. By doing that, the illusion

that his parents had the perfect union is shattered forever. In the play,

Hamlet says, "Must I remember? Why, she would hang on him. As if increase

of appetite had grown. By what it fed on, and yet within a month.
Open Document