Compare and contrast Oedipus and Hamlet. Is Oedipus more a man of action? Or is he more a man driven by whim and sudden, rash decisions? Which character is more selfless? Does Hamlet show any signs of selfish motives in his actions or inactions? Which protagonist seems more learned? wiser? more religious? more loving? more incestuous? Which seems to be a better murder investigator? Does Oedipus have any of Claudius' motives when he kills the king, Laius? Then which murderer is more blameworthy--Oedipus or Claudius?
Different men in different eras: los41183 said in 2000: "It is hard to compare two men with such obvious religious and moralistic differences. Oedipus grew up in the time of the Greek gods, gods who set their examples through destruction of the titans, incestuous marriages with siblings, and rash actions that changed the way their followers lived. Hamlet, on the other hand, grew up with strict Catholicism shaping his conscience. He followed that conscience to the letter, allowing for the lengthy period in between the revelation of the ghost to the actual bloodbath in the closing scenes.
This lapse is what sets the differences between Oedipus and Hamlet, for as soon as Oedipus had the truth fully revealed to him, he acted, rash as his actions may have been. By far, Oedipus is the more thorough of investigators, but this is due mainly to his hubris that will not allow otherwise.* Hamlet took his time to trap Claudius into admission of guilt, whereas all of Thebes knew that Oedipus was on the lookout for a murderer.
The quiet, pensive nature of Hamlet versus the vainglorious outrage of Oedipus is the key to the debate over whether the actions both men take are selfish or selfless. This is a debate that is not answered easily and fully deserves further thought. When discussing which of the murders was the worst, that of Claudius comes to mind first. After putting thought into the mass murder of Laius' caravan, though, that thought is taken back. Which truly is worse, premeditated regicide or heat-of-the-moment "road rage" (the original road rage at that)? As a usurper of throne and wife, Claudius is the ultimate familiar turncoat, but as a guiltless killer of men who would not let him pass on a road, one must wonder if Oedipus has a conscience at all. One can suppose that this, again, is the result of r...
... middle of paper ...
...s still very young. Oedipus, after ruling a kingdom for ten years, was the wiser man. Oedipus was the more religious man, also, a product of the Greek society. Oedipus never really spoke of love, while Hamlet was a very passionate individual. Hamlet was definitely more incestuous; Oedipus was not aware that Jocasta was his mother.
"I think Oedipus was the better investigator, but only because Hamlet didn?t really investigate. The ghost of his father told him what happened; Hamlet just had to prove it. Oedipus did not have any of Claudius? motives; he did not conspire to commit murder; it was a chance encounter on a road where his anger got the best of him. Claudius is much more blameworthy for conspiring to kill his own brother, just to gain the throne."
Responsibility: jy717 (1999) wondered "1) to what extent is each tragic hero responsible for his own downfall? 2) to what extent does each hero take responsibility for his actions?"
Disgruntled Reader (1999) offered these comparison-contrast questions:
? How can the ending of the two plays be considered positive ones?
? To what degrees are Oedipus and Hamlet victims of fate? Of hamarita (fatal character flaw)?
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- 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]
1313 words (3.8 pages)
- 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]
1592 words (4.5 pages)
- 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]
1469 words (4.2 pages)
- 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]
1253 words (3.6 pages)
- “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]
1535 words (4.4 pages)
- 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]
1020 words (2.9 pages)
- 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]
1411 words (4 pages)
- 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]
374 words (1.1 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.... [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]
847 words (2.4 pages)
- 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]
624 words (1.8 pages)