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Essay: Hamlet – William Shakespeare

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The change in the fortune of the tragic hero in Oedipus the King results from the protagonist’s attempt to escape what the gods have ordained for him. Aristotle in his observation of Classical Greek tragedy observed that the tragic fall of a man like Oedipus resides through what he called a “frailty” in character rather than in an innate spirit of evil. Near death, Oedipus realizes too late that his past was filled with the flaw of self concern as he was rose to power in Thebes by solving the riddle of the Sphinx and arrogantly thinks that he can again rid his city state of a plague. Likewise, Hamlet in Shakespeare’s Renaissance play illustrates how a young man, basically noble in nature, exhibits a tragic flaw as he expresses himself alone on the stage to an audience sympathetic at first to his misfortune but aware that Hamlet’s obsessive need to avenge his father’s regicide illustrates a fault in his character. This paper will examine early soliloquies that manifest Hamlet’s suffering and then address the tragic flaw, revealed at the end of Act III, when Hamlet assumes the godlike position of refusing to kill Claudius at prayer so he can ensure that his uncle does not reach Heaven in the afterlife. Conclusions will be drawn by probing his language in these cited pieces to show the total picture of Shakespeare’s tragic hero, who suffers more than he deserves in the spirit of Greek tragedy.

Hamlet is a Shakespearean tragedy that contains a hero who wants to avenge his father after finding out about his death. Hamlet is the young Prince of Denmark who had returned home from school upon his father’s passing and later finds out that his mother remarries to his uncle. This revelation causes Hamlet to take revenge on his uncle because the death of Hamlet’s father was a ploy to become the King of Denmark. Hamlet feigns madness in an attempt to get revenge. Throughout it was believed that had a person prayed before death they were ensured to go into the afterlife and find peace. Hamlet’s plot against his uncle had been to retaliate against his uncle at church but soon becomes aware that he does not want his uncle to find peace and reach Heaven.

Oedipus relies on his character development because he drastically changes throughout the story. The tragedy he faces is the resentment those around him feel towards him. Oedipus is clearly a flawed figure who only towards the end, realizes his mistakes and tries to face them head on but only backfires when he is near death. Oedipus relentlessly tries to change his fate but fails without cause because the damage had already been done. Once Oedipus realizes that he wronged those around him, a karmic view lands on Oedipus especially when he realizes that it was his father he had killed and his mother he had married. The backlash his children will face in life was due to his actions because of the person he used to be.

Oedipus’ initial interaction with people was extremely disheartening and he was conveyed as a terrible person. Since his interactions with people, his fate was deemed to be terrible. Throughout the story, a reader’s initial reaction would be to sympathize because of the cruel fate he was entitled to but reading beforehand does the reader realize it was his actions that have put Oedipus in the position that he is in. Oedipus’ fate relies on his character development but is nonetheless destined a tragic death. Oedipus realizes that to change his fate, he would have to make amends with the people he had done wrong.

Oedipus begins to reconstruct his relationship with the people around him as to change his fate but is still destined a tragedy. Sophocles describes Oedipus as a man who is arrogant and is destined a tragic death and terrible fate because of the terrible things he done to people. Oedipus also begins to value those that have been kind to him and apologizes for the way he had mistreated them after becoming the King of Thebes. Oedipus realizes how arrogant he had become throughout and although he tries to fix his relationship, many people had still felt resentment towards him as a person. Once Oedipus realizes his fate will not change, he begins to accept it.

Hamlet and Oedipus are both tragic heros and have both self destructed in retaliation for their crimes throughout. Each story has a form of incest. Although Claudius was not blood related to Hamlet’s mother, he felt a sense of betrayal by his mother especially because it was soon after his father’s death. Oedipus had married his mother after killing his father but was not aware since he had been in Corinth since he was a child. Oedipus and Hamlet have both gotten their vengeance but was fated a tragic act of self destruction throughout the process of retaliation.

The need to avenge in each story is ironic since Hamlet and Oedipus fulfilled their task for vengeance but had tragically died heros. Oedipus believes that he can rid the city of the plague and realizes near death that he was filled with arrogance. Hamlet’s revenge towards Claudius results in avenging his father but deliberately harms himself throughout. The manifestation of both men resides in self loss. The tragic fall between both Hamlet and Oedipus had burdened them and each story contains regicide, a tragic hero and incest.

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