Hamlet and Oedipus: A Comparison Essay

Hamlet and Oedipus: A Comparison Essay

Length: 1592 words (4.5 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Tragedy. It is a word which can conjure many images for most people. From the innocence of a child who has lost her favorite blanket, to the heartbreak of losing a parent, to the desperation of a suicidal teen, every person on earth can relate to tragedy. The degree to which an audience can relate or even just sympathize with the tragic hero determines the quality of the tragedy. That said, in order to produce a tragedy, it is necessary to have a tragic hero. In his work, The Poetics, Aristotle sets forward characteristics that all tragic heroes should share. Included are hamartia, peripeteia, anagnorisis, and an over the top consequence. Hamartia, or the hero's tragic flaw, is “his error or transgression or (as some translators would have it) his flaw or weakness of character” (“Aristotle's” 858). Peripeteia, is the reversal of his fortune, or in other words, the tragic thing that happens to him. Anagnorisis is when the hero discovers that his own actions caused the reversal. Finally, Aristotle would say that the consequence for the hero's actions that resulted in a reversal of fate should be overly harsh. This paper seeks to compare and contrast Hamlet from William Shakespeare's play of the same name and Oedipus from Sophocles' Oedipus Rex at the points where they meet or do not meet these characteristics. Hamlet and Oedipus share similar a hamartia, and anagnorisis, and similarly do not suffer penalties that exceed their crimes. Meanwhile, they contrast in respect to their peripeteia.
Both Hamlet and Oedipus are morbidly and fatally impulsive. Each of them begin their tragic spiral with an unpremeditated murder. Hamlet's general impulsiveness plays a larger role in his story than does Oedipus'. They both hurrie...


... middle of paper ...


...about the twist in fate, while it was not Hamlet whose actions brought about the inciting incident in his story. Overall, Hamlet and Oedipus Rex are similar stories when it comes to setting, characters, and the situations they are in.



Works Cited

“Aristotle's Concept of Tragedy.” The Literature Collection. Ed. X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. Pearson Education, Inc. 2013. 858. Web.
New American Standard Bible Updated Edition. La Habra: The Lockman Foundation, 1995. Print.
Shakespeare, William. “Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.” The Literature Collection. Ed. X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. Pearson Education, Inc. 2013. 915-939. Web.
Sophocles, “Oedipus the King.” The Literature Collection. Ed. X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. Pearson Education, Inc. 2013. 860-873. Web.
Struck, Peter T. “Oedipus as the Ideal Tragic Hero.” Greek and Roman Mythology. n.p. 2009. 11 May 2014.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Comparison: Oedipus and Hamlet Essay

- According to Aristotle there are five characteristics of a tragic hero: Flaw or error of judgment, (Peripeteia) a reversal of fortune, the enlightenment (anagnorisis) the discovery or recognition, (hubris) excessive pride, and the character’s fate. Oedipus finds the elders of Thebes praying to the gods for liberation of the plague. Oedipus “alone can help. The cause of the trouble is himself; the chances he has had in his life are precisely the source of the plague” (Diski 1). Oedipus is the cause and the solution to end the plague, but he is blind to the true....   [tags: Tragic Heroes, Characteristics]

Powerful Essays
1313 words (3.8 pages)

Hamlet and Oedipus: A Comparison Essay

- Tragedy. It is a word which can conjure many images for most people. From the innocence of a child who has lost her favorite blanket, to the heartbreak of losing a parent, to the desperation of a suicidal teen, every person on earth can relate to tragedy. The degree to which an audience can relate or even just sympathize with the tragic hero determines the quality of the tragedy. That said, in order to produce a tragedy, it is necessary to have a tragic hero. In his work, The Poetics, Aristotle sets forward characteristics that all tragic heroes should share....   [tags: Tragedy, Literary Analysis, WIlliam Shakespeare]

Powerful Essays
1592 words (4.5 pages)

Oedipus the King Comparison to Hamlet Essay

- The two most controversial situations in a person’s life are fate and free will, the determinants of why things happen the way they do (Hamilton 12). Whether or not what people go through is a result of fate or choice is a thing, which requires adequate deliberation. Fate describes a situation in which someone believe the idea that his or her future is already planned, even though they do not know what is going to happen to them. This, therefore implies that the individual will do a lot of things, but in the end, what happens to him or her is something previously outlined by forces of unknown nature....   [tags: fate, free will, miserable life, future life]

Powerful Essays
1469 words (4.2 pages)

A Comparison of Tragedy in Hamlet, The Book of Job, and Oedipus Rex Essay

- Interpretations of Tragedy in Hamlet, The Book of Job, and Oedipus Rex   For ages, man has pondered upon the roots of destiny. Is the outcome of a man's life determined by human qualities and failings, the meddling of a divine power, or simple fate. Shakespeare's Hamlet made the argument that tragedy is caused by human folly. The idea that divine intervention is at the root of human suffering is put forth in the Book of Job. In Sophocles' Oedipus Rex, fate is given as the root of man's suffering....   [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]

Powerful Essays
1253 words (3.6 pages)

Essay on Oedipus Rex, Hamlet, & Willy Loman Comparison

- “Still, the Truth Remains” An immense desire for personal satisfaction, and extraordinary reputation can often result in a sickly, perverse distortion of reality. In Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, a man well known for his intellect and wisdom, finds himself blind to the truth of his life, and his parentage. William Shakespeare’s Hamlet also contains a character that is in search of the truth, which ultimately leads to his own demise, as well as the demise of many around him. Arthur Miller’s play, The Death of a Salesman, tells of a tragic character so wrapped up in his delusional world, that reality and illusion fuse, causing an internal explosion that leads to his downfall....   [tags: Sophocles William Shakespeare Arthur Miller]

Powerful Essays
1535 words (4.4 pages)

Comparison Of Oedipus The King vs. Hamlet vs. Waiting For Godot Essay

- Some of the first forms of drama come from ancient Greece. Oedipus the King by Sophocles is a great example of ancient Greek tragedy, Hamlet by Shakespeare is the example of drama of Elizabethan period and Samuel Becketts Waiting for Godot represents the drama of the 20th century and belongs to so called. Theatre of the Absurd. Because all these dramas come from different period of time, it's natural that they differ from each other in many aspects. The Greek tragedy has unity of time, place and action, since it takes place all in one day, happens in a single scene, and develops only one plot....   [tags: Comparative Literature]

Free Essays
1020 words (2.9 pages)

The Evolution of Tragedy in Oedipus Rex, Hamlet, and Desire Under the Elms

- The Evolution of Tragedy in Oedipus Rex, Hamlet, and Desire Under the Elms There are many genres of literature. Because of the age of this genre, it stands to reason that many variations have occurred throughout the years to make it reflect that time period. The genre of tragedy tends to be considered great because it occurs during great periods of history, it is about great men, and it is written by great writers.> The evolution of tragedy and the characteristics of tragedy are exemplified in the comparison of Oedipus Rex, Hamlet, and Desire Under the Elms....   [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]

Powerful Essays
1411 words (4 pages)

Comparing Oedipus and Hamlet Essay

- Free Essays - Oedipus vs. Hamlet as Tragic Protagonists Oedipus fits Aristotle's definition of the tragic flaw and protagonist almost flawlessly. Aristotle described the protagonist as "someone regarded as extraordinary rather than typical..."(1117). Oedipus freed Thebes from the Sphinx by solving her riddle-- something nobody else had been able to do. The priest in the first scene of Act I calls Oedipus "...our greatest power" (1121) and describes him as rated first among men. Hamlet is of noble birth but there is nothing else extraordinary about him....   [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]

Free Essays
374 words (1.1 pages)

Hamlet and Oedipus Rex: The Birth of Kings Essay examples

- 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....   [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]

Free Essays
847 words (2.4 pages)

tragoed Comparing Tragedy in Hamlet and Oedipus the King (Oedipus Rex) Essay

- Tragedy in Hamlet and Oedipus the King Tragedy comes in many forms, for example earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes are all types of tragedies. On the other hand, when talking about tragedy in literature, it has a whole different meaning. Tragedy in literature is on a smaller scale than things like earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes. In literature tragedy is usually about one person and the horrible things that happen to them during their life in a story or play. Oedipus is the main character in the play Oedipus the King....   [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]

Free Essays
624 words (1.8 pages)