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Oedipus The King Vs Hamlet - Analysis

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 833 words Published: 7th Jun 2017

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What is the different between Oedipus the King and Hamlet. Oedipus the King was written by Sophocles in 430-425 BCE. Oedipus the King is about King Oedipus finding out his true origins and him fulfilling a prophecy. In order to save his Kingdom Oedipus has to find out who murdered the king before him. Looking for the murderer Oedipus begins to learn about his origins and true self. Hamlet on the other hand is about a Hamlet, the prince of Denmark, trying to avenge his father’s death. There are many differences between Sophocles’ Oedipus the King and Shakespeare’s Hamlet; however there are also many things alike.

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In the play Oedipus the King Oedipus was born to a king and a queen. The parents wanted to know the future of the child so they had an oracle tell them a prophecy. The prophecy told them that he will kill his father and marry his mother. To protect themselves the parents sent the baby away to be killed. However, the child is not killed. Instead he is sent to another kingdom to be raised by a different king and queen. The new parents never tell Oedipus that he is not theirs. When Oedipus hears he is to kill his father and marry his mother, he leaves his parents and searches for a new home. While on the road after leaving his home Oedipus runs into a man. Oedipus and the man fight and he killed the man. He then finds a castle and becomes a king. Oedipus married the queen. To save his kingdom Oedipus must find the murderer or the previous king and remove him from the kingdom. While searching for the murderer Oedipus thinks that the man on the road that he killed was actually the previous king. As he verifies his idea he learns that the king was actually his father and he is married to his mother, Jocasta the queen. When Oedipus goes to confront Jocasta he finds her dead body. He stabs himself in the eyeballs from the pain and grief that he has discovered. He is later banished from the kingdom (Sophocles, 969-1008).

In the play Hamlet, Hamlet is the Denmark Prince. In the beginning, Hamlet is confronted by the ghost of his dead father, the previous king of Denmark. The ghost tells him that he was murdered by Hamlet’s uncle, Claudius, the current king. The ghost then asks him to avenge his death. Hamlet decides to act like he is crazy so he would have a better shot at killing him. While pretending to be crazy Hamlet has the Players act out a play that was similar to the murder of Hamlet’s father. Claudius stopped the play half way through. After he sent everyone away Claudius started to pray and Hamlet sneaks up on him about to avenge his father’s death. However, he decides not to kill him then because if Hamlet kills Claudius while he is praying then Claudius will go to heaven. He decides to wait until he has not had a chance to confess before he kills him. Hamlet is so against him going to Heaven instead of Hell because Claudius killed Hamlet’s father before he had a chance to confess to God, so Hamlet believes he went to hell. Hamlet did not try and kill him again until the end of the play. At the end of the play Hamlet is sword fighting with someone that Claudius has made a plan with to kill Hamlet. The plan was that the guy would use a sharp poisoned sword so is Hamlet got cut he would be poisoned and die. The back-up plan in case Hamlet wins is that Claudius will offer Hamlet poisoned wine in celebration. However his mother drinks it. Hamlet was cut with the sword and after his mother died he stabbed Claudius with the poisoned and makes him drink all the wine. Then Hamlet dies (Shakespeare, (1011-1107). The two plays both have the same theme of self-destruction (StudyWorld). However, the plots were very different. Oedipus the King seemed to go backwards. Oedipus’s past was revealed as the play progressed. But with Hamlet the reader seemed to already know everything.

Oedipus the King and Hamlet are very different when it comes to time period and setting although they were both set mostly in the castle. Oedipus is set in the time of Greek gods in the ancient city of Thebes. Hamlet, however, was set in the country of Denmark in a time when Catholicism was very strong (Hibbison). The characters reacted to the situations that they faced in ways that reflected the setting. Oedipus would pray to the Greek Gods. Hamlet would pray to the normal God and his religion was reflected in his actions. Throughout the play Hamlet was reluctant to become a murderer. When Ophelia killed herself it was believed to be a sin because taking your own life is a sin in God’s eyes.

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There were some similarities between the two play. There were also several differences. The plays were both set in different time periods. Also, the plots were very different. Oedipus was trying to save his kingdom while Hamlet was trying to avenge his father by killing the king. Both are such wonderful pieces of literature and will not soon be forgotten.


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