This Essay Outlines The Similarities In Theme, Symbolism And Writing Structure Between William Shakespear's "Hamlet" And Sophocles "Oedipus King".

877 words - 4 pages

When reading the works of two great writers, a person can find many similarities between them. The underlying themes of Shakespeare's Hamlet and Sophocles Oedipus King excite the reader yet leave us with the desire of wanting more. There are significant similarities between Oedipus King and Hamlet, especially when it relates to the theme of the tormented king, incest, and Shakespeare's and Sophocles metaphorical references to vision and hearing. Sophocles Oedipus King and Shakespeare's Hamlet both contain the basic elements of tragedy, although the Shakespearean tragedy expanded its setting far beyond that of the ancient Greek tragedy.The theme of the tormented king is perhaps the strongest comparison between Hamlet and Oedipus King. In Hamlet, Shakespeare establishes the theme of torment early in the play with the arrival of the ghost of Hamlet's murdered father, the former King of Denmark. Even before the ghost is revealed to Hamlet, Shakespeare suggests some instability in Hamlets mind: "My father / I thinks I see my father / in my minds eye" (Act I, Scene II). Throughout the play the reader will begin to see Hamlet as the tormented prince of Denmark, which has always proven to be melancholy, bitter, cynical, and full of hatred. The tragic hero of Hamlet finds himself burdened with the task of avenging his father's death from the start of the play, and is not himself the source of the pollution of regicide, while Oedipus is of course the unwitting fashioner of his own doom, which is unveiled to him through recognition and repentance. Sophocles has Oedipus foretelling his own tragedy when speaking to the people of Thebes. The city suffers because of the pollution of Oedipus. The irony is shown when Oedipus suggest that by avenging Laius he will protect himself, or that by getting children upon Jocasta, the dead king's wife, he will be taking the place of the son of Laius, which, unknowingly, is himself. Clearly both Oedipus king and Hamlet share the common theme of self-destruction and torment of the tragic hero, but the plot of Hamlet makes a much more complicated character than that of the classic Greek tragedy of Oedipus the King.Another powerful similarity between Hamlet and Oedipus king is the theme of incest. The motif of incest runs throughout Hamlet and is frequently alluded to by Hamlet and the ghost, most obviously in conversations about Gertrude and Claudius, the former brother-in-law and sister-in-law who are now married. A subtle motif of incestuous desire can be found in the relationship of Laertes and Ophelia, as Laertes sometimes speaks to his sister...

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