Tragedy in Oedipus Rex, Hamlet, and the Book of Job

1007 Words5 Pages
Tragedy in Oedipus Rex, Hamlet, and the Book of Job

In works of literature involving a tragedy, the question of the cause of the tragedy is often raised. The play Oedipus Rex by Sophocles, the play Hamlet by William Shakespeare, and the book of Job from the Bible all involve a tragedy resulting from different things. In Oedipus Rex the tragedy is a result of Oedipus's fate. In Hamlet the tragedy is caused by human folly. The divine intervention of God is what causes the tragedy in Job. The tragedy in Oedipus Rex is a result of fate, in Hamlet a result of human folly, and in Job a result of divine intervention.

The play Oedipus Rex involves the tragic downfall of the main character King Oedipus. This tragedy was a result of fate. From the time Oedipus was born it was predicted that he would kill his father and marry his mother. He tells Jocasta, "Apollo said through his prophet that I was the man who should marry his own mother, shed his father's blood with his own hands" (Sophocles 945). It was for this reason that his parents bound his ankles and gave him to a shepherd to take away. Even though Oedipus tries to escape his fate, his fate always catches up with him. He runs away from home after hearing the prophesy with the purpose of avoiding his fate. Oedipus exclaims to a messenger, "I tell you, I fear the oracle may come true" (Sophocles 960). However, while he is on the run he actually fulfills part of his fate by killing his father when they meet on the road. The second part of the prophecy is that Oedipus will marry his mother. This part is fulfilled when he marries his mother, Jocasta, without knowing that she is his mother. Because of the tragedy caused by his fate Oedipus blinded himself and ...

... middle of paper ...

...lost many things that were important to him.

The causes of tragedy in Oedipus Rex, Hamlet, and Job are all very different. Oedipus was a slave to fate, and could do nothing to escape that. Hamlet caused tragedy through his own folly. Job's downfall was a result of the intervention of God. Though different things caused all three tragedies, all three tragedies resulted in death and destruction, proving that tragedy, no matter what the cause, never has a happy ending.

Works Cited

Green, Joel B., & Longman, Tremper (Eds.). Holy Bible -- The Everday Study Edition. Dallas: Word Publishing. 1996.

Shakespeare, William. The New Cambridge Shakespeare: Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Ed. Philip Edwards. Cambridge: Cambridge U P, 1985.

Sophocles. "Oedipus Rex." An Introduction to Literature, 11th ed. Eds. Sylvan Barnet, et al. New York: Longman, 1997.
Get Access