The Tragic Hero In Shakespeare's Hamlet And Oedipus The King

1825 Words 8 Pages
Sex, gore, murder and lies. If these sound like the themes of a show that will satisfy your needs, then you should tune your receiver to Sophocles’ Oedipus, the King. However, if you want all of the above without the burden of having to feel embarrassed for the main character, then Shakespeare’s Hamlet is the drama for you. Oedipus, the King and Hamlet are both dramas that develop their characters into model tragic heroes. The main characters in each of the plays experience a tragic fall from grace, as they both soon experience the backlash from their misguided decisions. In Oedipus, the King the main character, Oedipus, is the current king of the ancient Greek city of Thebes. Oedipus’ life of luxury unravels as throughout the play it is revealed …show more content…
Hamlet’s fall from grace came with plenty more deaths than did Oedipus’. Hamlet, like Oedipus, experienced the attributes of a tragic hero from royal status to death. In the drama, Hamlet, the former king of Denmark’s son, attends his father’s funeral. Soon after, Hamlets closest friend, Horatio, alerts Hamlet of an apparition of his recently deceased father. Hamlet visits the ghost and it informs him that the new king and Hamlet’s uncle, King Claudius, murdered him. It is at this point that Hamlet’s fate is sealed. Hamlet’s father prompts him to “Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.” (Shakespeare 1.5.31-37). Hamlet, emotionally driven with anger and rage, takes it upon himself to avenge his father’s death in order to put his father’s ghost to rest. The play then continues with Hamlet seeking several opportunities to murder his uncle. Hamlet eventually does murder his uncle, but not without the resulting death of himself, his mother, his lover and his lover’s brother, Laertes. In this process, Hamlet was not reasoned, but completely coherent and cogent in determining his actions. In other words, King Claudius’ death was premeditated, just as Hamlet’s father’s murder. Hamlet’s awareness was best seen when Hamlet decided not to murder his uncle while he was praying, fearing that he would be sent to heaven should he be killed in the act of praying. Another example of Hamlets conniving self is …show more content…
One play held that theme of incest to more obvious depiction than did the other. This is one of the reasons some say that Oedipus, the King was the only tragic hero in these two dramas. Oedipus, the King has remained the model Aristotle tragedy for a millennium before Hamlet came into the discussion. The true tragedy of Oedipus lies within Oedipus’ own ignorance. The audience is alluded to many of the facts of the story in the beginning of the play. Some may feel that since Oedipus may have suffered more and his life was predicted, and dictated, before he was even born, then he is the true tragic hero. Teiresias: “And by his sons shall he be known at once father and brother, and of her who bore him husband and son, sharing his father’s bed His father’s murd’rer. Go thou, then, within, and brood o’er this, and, if thou find’st me fail, say that my skill in prophecy is gone” (Sophocles 483-488). On the other hand, those same people feel that Hamlet, completely aware and in control of his actions, was not a tragic hero, but someone doomed by his own thirst for revenge. The argument here lies in the fact that Hamlet once planned the murder of his uncle. “He thus stages a play in which the crime supposedly committed by his stepfather, Claudius, is represented. The Murder of Gonzago has the purpose of catching the conscience of the King through the observation of Claudius’s

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