Scholars have been comparing Oedipus and Hamlet for years. Tragedies written so long ago and so far apart yet so similar. The tried and true tale of betrayal and death. They are themes that stand the test of time.
Both Oedipus and Hamlet could not escape their destinies. Both destined to be king and both destined to murder. They were both naïve. Oedipus tried to escape his destiny of killing his father and lying with his mother by running away from who he thought were his parents. Little did he know this only sealed his fate. Hamlet second guessed himself trying to avoid killing his uncle. He waited around for a sign even after his father’s ghost told him the truth. In the end their fate caught up with them.
Betrayal is another major theme in both plays. Hamlet betrayed by not only his uncle, but also ultimately his mother. She may not have known that Claudius killed the old Hamlet, but she did marry him in the blink of an eye. Oedipus too was betrayed by his mother. Not only did she allow him to be sent off as a baby but she put two and two together and figured out that Oedipus was her son and did not tell him. Instead she just pleads for him to let it go.
Hamlet and Oedipus both are to avenge their father’s deaths. It is in a roundabout way that Oedipus does this but he does indeed. When he makes his vow to cast out the murder of Laios he does not know that he is the man that he seeks. None the less he holds true to his word and avenges his father’s death by expelling himself from Thebes once he knows the truth. Hamlet finally avenges his father’s death by killing Claudius with both the sword and the wine intended for Hamlet.
I’m sure there are even more similarities between Oedipus and Hamlet. As stated in our assignment, even Freud saw the similarities and said that Hamlet had an Oedipus complex. What is a tragedy though without a little betrayal and death?
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