Drama Research Essay

Submitted By krivera87
Words: 1424
Pages: 6

Drama Research Essay
Oedipus Rex (430 B.C.) by Sophocles and Hamlet (1603) by William Shakespeare
The Omens, Prophecies, and Superstitions

Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” and Sophocles’ “Oedipus Rex”, both contain the primitive essential feature of tragedy in the plays. The first occurring initial situation in “Oedipus Rex” is that Oedipus is aware of the fact that there is a calamity placed on the city of Thebes so he then has Creon gain information on how to get rid of the curse. Oedipus is then informed that in order to make the curse go away he must find and kill the murderer of a man named Laius. Oedipus then promises the doomed city of Thebes that he will fix things. Oedipus then becomes completely dedicated to solving the puzzle of Laius’s murder. Soon, Oedipus enters a stage of resentment when his search for Laius’s murderer alters into a search for his own identity. It then becomes clear that Oedipus is the cause for the murder of his father and the curse on Thebes. Oedipus discovers that Jocasta, his wife, is not only his wife but his mother as well. Oedipus and Jocasta both enter a stage of depression. Jocasta then commits suicide and after Oedipus finds her dead he claws his eyes out and is banished from Thebes. Similarly, in Hamlet much tragedy occurs as well. The introductory situation is that after the death of Hamlet’s father, his mother gets remarried to his father’s brother. Hamlet is not delighted to have his uncle as his new step-father. A conflict then occurs when a ghost shows up to the castle looking awfully similar to Hamlet’s father. The ghost then leaves a message for Hamlet letting him know of the fact that his father’s death was not an unexpected event. The ghost tells Hamlet that his mother’s new husband murdered his father. Hamlet’s revenge towards Claudius (his mother’s husband) gets put off many times because he begins to go mad. Hamlet is not sure what he should do so he struggles between thoughts of morality and actual duty. Shortly after, Hamlet comes to the realization that Claudius is guilty indeed and advances his revenge but is not completely successful. Eventually, after four acts of suspension, the characters are able to successfully seek revenge on one another. Hamlet is then stabbed by Laertes with a poisoned sword as revenge for Hamlet killing his father Polonius, but then Hamlet uses it to strike him back. Gertrude, (Hamlet’s mother) soon after commits suicide by poisoning herself and Hamlet kills Claudius right before his own death. Through the use of omens, prophecies, and superstitions, these two plays are similar in the way that the occurrences lead to the outcomes of the main characters, but they differ in the way that they are illuminated. The omens in “Oedipus Rex” and the omens in “Hamlet” both lead to facts of tragedy. In “Oedipus Rex” the Oracle is the omen. The Oracle tells Oedipus that he will murder his father and marry his mother. Oedipus then runs away so he could save the fate of his parents. The Oracle did not mention that the people Oedipus thought to be his parents were really his adopted parents. The reality was that Oedipus’s real parents had been told the same thing when Oedipus was a baby so they abandoned him hoping that their fate could still be saved. Without the oracle, Oedipus would have not left home and accidentally fulfilled the prophecy. On the other hand in “Hamlet,” the ghost of Hamlet’s father is the omen. Through the ghost character, Hamlet is told that Claudius is the villain. It is because of the ghost that Hamlet decides he wants to seek revenge on Claudius for murdering his father. Prophecies are also present in “Oedipus Rex” and “Hamlet.” According to an article by J. Michael Walton called Oedipus the King: Overview, Walton writes, “part of the plays tragic power resides in human failing…constantly underpinning any sense of the inevitable.” The theme of the inevitable is constant in “Oedipus Rex.” No matter how much any of the characters