Hamlet vs. Oedipus Essay Example

Pages: 3 (911 words) Published: December 5, 2005
Character Analysis of Prince Hamlet in "Hamlet" by William Shakespeare and Oedipus in "Oedipus King" by Sophocles
In Aristotle's literary discourse, "Poetics," he discusses his theory of tragedy, wherein he introduces the concepts of tragic flaw or "hamartia," which serves as the catalyst for the protagonist's downfall or the tragedy of the story to happen. He determines a tragedy as a "drama" that brings about a "sorrowful conclusion, arousing fear and pity in the audience" (Roberts and Jacobs, 1998:1189). Tragic stories are identified through three (3) characteristics or elements: first, the protagonist, usually a male, must be of noble stature; second, the protagonist or tragic hero must possess a tragic flaw or "hamartia" that shall become his downfall at the end of the story; and third, the hero's downfall must come with a self-realization on his part, making him a ‘reformed' individual even if a tragic outcome happens to him.

These characteristics are the important qualities that "Hamlet" by William Shakespeare and "Oedipus the King" by Sophocles have; these similarities determine these plays as tragedies, and their protagonists, Hamlet and Oedipus, as tragic heroes.

In this paper, a character analysis of both Prince Hamlet and Oedipus is conducted, arguing that both characters have exhibited tragic flaws that ultimately determined their downfall in life. In Prince Hamlet, readers witness his indecisive character, which led to his eventual death; Oedipus' stubbornness and distrust in fate, meanwhile, made him commit murder and blind himself to repent from his mistakes that he had unwittingly committed against his own parents.

Hamlet's indecisive character emerges early in the story, and is illustrated by his inability to forget the memory of his father and his death. Haunted by his Old Hamlet's memory, Prince Hamlet finds it hard to move on; furthermore, his anxiety also stems from the fact that he is expected to become an equally or even...
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