Write 2 pages thesis on the topic a comparison and contrast of: oedipus the king & hamlet. Running Head: Oedipus the King & Hamlet A Comparison and Contrast of: Oedipus the King & Hamlet goes here Books Comparison and Contrast Professor Name of you professor Oedipus the King by Sophocles & Hamlet by Shakespeare This report draws a comparison and contrast between two master pieces of English Literature i.e. the “Oedipus the King” by Sophocles and “Hamlet” by Shakespeare. Both of the literary works talk about the tragedies of kings while drawing the reader’s attention towards the theme of Hamartia and fate. The term Hamartia was introduced by Aristotle in his famous work the Poetics. Hamartia is a human error committed in ignorance but it may cause the sever damages to people around the offender and committer especially, if committed by a king it may inflict a curse on the nation as well. Oedipus Rex is a heart breaking story of a king who driven by his Hamartia happened to kill his father and slept with his mother. The unfortunate king, Oedipus never knew the horrendous crime committed by him in ignorance till late in his life. He never knew that he has committed incest to his mother Jocasta, happened to be his wife and mother at the same time. Jocasta was also ignorant of the fact till she committed suicide when the dreadful crimes were dawned on her. Oedipus soon after his birth was handed over to a shepherd by his mother Jocasta to avoid the fate foretold in an oracle. The oracle pointed out that Oedipus will kill his father and will marry his mother. However the shepherd out of mercy didn’t kill the infant Oedipus, who was ultimately adopted by the Corinth’s King, Polybus. Oedipus on growing young when heard someone telling that he is not the real son of Polybus consulted oracle which revealed that he will kill his father and will sleep with his mother. Oedipus left the Corinth to avoid his fate and on the way killed Laius his real father and was married to her mother unknowingly. “So then Apollo brought it not to pass The child should be his father’s murderer, Or the dread terror find accomplishment, And Laius be slain by his own son.” (Storr, trans. 1912) Hamlet by Shakespeare is yet another story which is widely discussed for the Hamartia of Hamlet. Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark was assigned the task of taking avenge of his father’s murder by killing his uncle Claudius, the King. However, Hamlet committed several mistakes and especially his inaction to kill the Claudius is often targeted by the critics. The inaction and delay caused Hamlet irreparable losses including the death of his mother and Queen Gertrude, his beloved Ophelia and lose of his own life. Hamlet has his own reason for this inaction but most of the critics are of the opinion that the inaction and delay by Hamlet can be regarded as Hamartia because the delay and neglect was criminal and has caused the loss of several innocent lives. Some critics’ say that Hamlet was puzzled and confused over the issue and this confusion caused the Hamartia as Hamlet utters himself in his famous soliloquy. “To be, or not to be, that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them? …… Thus conscience does make cowards of us all, And thus the native hue of resolution Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought, And enterprises of great pitch and moment, With this regard their currents turn awry, And lose the name of action. Soft you now, The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons Be all my sins remembered” (Shakespeare, Act-III, Scene-I, 1600) The above quoted two plays have similar theme of Hamartia and fate beside many other themes attributed to these wonderful literary works. The treatment of these themes by Sophocles and Shakespeare is quite different and both have narrated the insight and disposition of their characters in a distinct style. Fate seems to dominate in Oedipus the King while in Hamlet it seems to be overruled by Hamartia. References Shakespeare, William (1600). The Tragical History of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, Cambridge Press, London. Storr, F, BA (1912). Oedipus The King (Sophocles), Cambridge Press, London (Original work performed 420 BCE).
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