Oedipus_Final_Paper_ - Evans 1 Tyler Evans Mrs Albritton English 102 1 August 2006 A Tragic Comparison Throughout the history of the educated world

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Evans 1 Tyler Evans Mrs. Albritton English 102 1 August 2006 A Tragic Comparison Throughout the history of the educated world, one thing has always been consistent: Literature. Literature is the most effective way to express one’s thoughts, feelings and ideas. Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Sophocles’ Oedipus the King are no exception. Each work develops the idea of the tragic hero. Although some aspects of the tragic hero must be present with every tragedy, some things can be altered (i.e. how the hero reaches his downfall). Shakespeare and Sophocles develop Hamlet and Oedipus, respectively, to express differing ideas; therefore each hero is both alike and different. In Sophocles’ Oedipus the King and Shakespeare’s Hamlet , Oedipus and Hamlet can be compared and contrasted as tragic heroes. Generally, when an author writes something he or she works toward a theme to convey to the audience. The theme usually includes the author’s own thoughts and feelings. In the two plays being discussed here, the themes are easily identifiable. Sophocles develops two themes; one cannot escape fate and those that can see are “blind” to the truth. Shakespeare, on the other hand, works toward a theme involving the consequences of procrastination. In literature, there is a pattern; the majority of works written are influenced by works preceding them. Oedipus the King , for example, is based on myths surrounding Greek gods. “Like other dramatists of his time, Sophocles wrote his plays as theatrical interpretations of the well-known myths of Greek culture” (CliffsNotes). Hamlet , however, is based on a previous
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Evans 2 work called “Ur-Hamlet”, which was lost or destroyed. “Shakespeare's main source, however, is believed to be an earlier play about Hamlet (known as the Ur-Hamlet ), which is attributed to Thomas Kyd and is known to have introduced a ghost to the story” (Wikipedia). Although this anomaly is not present with some literature, it is at least true with the two being discussed here. One area that Hamlet and Oedipus can be contrasted in is each hero’s view of fate. Hamlet unwillingly submits to his fate “The time is out of joint: O cursed spite, / That ever I was born to set it right” (I. v. 188-189). This submittal leads to a loss of sanity. Oedipus, however, fights his fate causing figurative blindness. A big question in Hamlet is “Is Hamlet sane?” What makes answering this question hard is that Hamlet often changes from his fake state of sanity back to his real self, making it tough to tell if his insanity is real. There are several examples that point to Hamlet losing his sanity. First, there is Hamlet’s encounter with the ghost of King Hamlet. Hamlet is passive by nature and having such a huge responsibility (avenging his father by killing Claudius) put on his shoulders is more than enough, at story’s close, to have driven Hamlet mad. Another possible cause of Hamlet’s loss of sanity is the false insanity Hamlet pretends to have in order to find out more about his father’s murder. Hamlet has trouble killing
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This note was uploaded on 04/29/2008 for the course ENGL 261 taught by Professor Albritton during the Spring '07 term at Jefferson Davis Community College.

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Oedipus_Final_Paper_ - Evans 1 Tyler Evans Mrs Albritton English 102 1 August 2006 A Tragic Comparison Throughout the history of the educated world

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