Hamlet vs. Oedipus

Topics: Hamlet, Oedipus, Sophocles Pages: 4 (1482 words) Published: December 7, 2010
Hamlet vs Oedipus
Hamlet by William Shakespeare and Oedipus the King by Sophocles are both tragic stories which contain many elements of which are similar and different. Although both Hamlet and Oedipus suffer from fate, Hamlet’s father is murdered by his brother Claudius, while Oedipus kills his own father. Both Hamlet and Oedipus have the opportunity to shun their fate, but the two men believe themselves to be the only individual who can resolve the predicament which they are faced with. The homeland of Hamlet and Oedipus, Denmark and Thebes, are both in a state of tumult. After Hamlet’s father’s death Denmark was presided by a new court, after Claudius, who in addition to murdering Hamlet’s father, became king by marrying his mother, Gertrude. Thebes, on the other hand, was infested with plague and other sickness. Dictated by Oedipus’ brother-in-law, Creon, according to the message from the oracle, the only way to rid Thebes of its death and pestilence was to abolish the individual responsible for Laius’ murder. One of the most significant characteristics in both Hamlet and Oedipus is their individual convictions that it is their solemn duty to rescue their state from destruction.

Shortly after Hamlet learns that his father has passed away due to “natural causes”, he is haunted by the ghost of his murdered father when he learns the real truth about his father’s death. “O cursed spite That ever I was born to set it right!” (Shakespeare I.5 v.191-92), exclaimed Hamlet at the end of Act I. Regardless of the task being feasible or not, sworn by his own nobility as the former son and true reigning Prince of Denmark, Hamlet’s decision to set things straight in Denmark sets his fate. Like Hamlet, Oedipus decides it is his responsibility as the King of Thebes to investigate the murder of Laius without trepidation for his own wellbeing. Just as Hamlet’s best friend, Horatio, attempts to thwart Hamlet from retaliation upon his uncle for murdering his...
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