In the plays Oedipus Rex by Sophocles and The Tragedy of Hamlet by William Shakespeare, Oedipus and Hamlet have varied traits that can be contrasted. Written in two diverse eras, both Oedipus and Hamlet are protagonists of plays that involve a tragedy amongst their family. Oedipus grew up in the time of the Greek gods, gods who set their examples through abolition of the titans, depraved marriages with siblings, and impulsive actions that changed the way their followers lived. Differently, Hamlet grew up with rigorous Catholicism regulating his morals. Out of the various traits that both Oedipus and Hamlet share; leadership, personality, and family tragedy are three crucial topics that can be easily and in depth compared and contrasted.
Having to earn his respect and position of King of the Thebes, Oedipus had to solve the riddle of the Sphinx. Oedipus came across the Sphinx one day which asked him, “What walks on four feet in the morning, two in the afternoon, and three in the evening?” If Oedipus answers the question correctly, the Sphinx would kill herself, the people of the Thebes would be saved, and Oedipus would become king for saving the people. Oedipus then analyzed the question and then answered, “Man.” Right then, the Sphinx killed herself because Man was the correct answer. Humans crawl on their hands and knees as a baby, walk on two from the middle ages and three legs with the help of a cane in the elder days. “You saved us from the Sphinx…” quoted the Priest after Oedipus had solved the riddle (1308). Since that day, Oedipus became the King of the Thebes and the Sphinx has been dead and not harassing the Thebes.
Having the role of leadership over the people of Denmark wasn’t hard for Hamlet considering he was born into a royalty family. “Cannot you tell that? Every fool can tell that. It was the very day that young Hamlet was born, he that is mad and sent into England,” was quoted by Gravedigger to King Hamlet (5.1.129). Hamlet’s father was King Hamlet over Denmark till he got murdered and then his brother, Claudius became the king over Denmark and hamlet was still prince hamlet of Denmark. In contrast to Prince Hamlet to be born into the role of leadership, Oedipus had to help save the people of the Thebes by solving the riddle of the Sphinx just to take the leadership position and become King.
Being self-centered and over prideful of himself is Oedipus two major personality traits he has throughout the play. “Sick as you are, not one is as sick as I,” was quoted by Oedipus to the Priest and the Thebes when they wanted him to save them again (1309). Be basically said he doesn’t care how the people of the Thebes feel, he only cares about himself and saving himself. “I, Oedipus, who bear the famous name,” (1308) was said to the people of the Thebes, which means, who doesn’t know my name. Oedipus is a man of his own and wouldn’t care if anything happened to the people of the Thebes.
“To thine ownself be true” is a quote from Shakespeare’s Hamlet that meant Prince Hamlet is the only person, of all the main characters, who is true to himself by the end of the play. By the end of the play, Prince Hamlet is the only character, of the main characters, who does not slaughter himself. “…Or that the Everlasting had not fixed His canon ‘gainst self-slaughter! O God, God!” (1.2.131-132). As opposed to Oedipus and his self-centered and too prideful of himself, Prince Hamlet is more on the intelligent and strong personality.
A family tragedy was taken place in Sophocles Oedipus Rex that changed Oedipus life at the end of the play. When Oedipus grew up, he…