Essay on Hamlet vs. Oedipus

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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 …show more content…
Oedipus is a paradox personified in the play, since Sophocles characterizes him as critical of Tiresias' predictions about his future in a remark that will become significant to him later. He criticizes Tiresias by saying, "In truth, but not in you! You have no strength, blind in your ears, your reason, and your eyes," which the prophet replies by saying, "Unhappy man! Those jeers you hurl at me before long all these men will hurl at you" (1206-7). From this exchange of lines between Oedipus and Tiresias, it becomes apparent that Tiresias' remark about Oedipus' ‘blindness' illustrates the fact that despite Oedipus intelligence and good perception on things is in contrast to his attitude towards the prediction on his fate by the Tiresias. Despite the truthfulness of the prophet's prediction (another irony in the story, since the audience knows the truth and not the characters, leaving Oedipus and his parents unknowing about the things happening to them), Oedipus blindly refused any word of the prophet's statement, and this attitude finally resulted to Oedipus' fall as King of Thebes. In sum, the character analysis of both Hamlet and Oedipus shows that despite their being tragic heroes, they possess different tragic flaws that led to their downfall. Hamlet's weakness is his indecisiveness, while Oedipus flaw is the opposite