Oedipus and Hamlet are two very well known characters in literature. They both stand out in a reader’s mind through their actions, conflicts, strengths, and weaknesses. A reader becomes involved more in the action through these two characters. They allow us, the reader, to gain a greater sense of the stories plot. In many ways these characters hold similar traits to one another but the one that stands out most in my mind is their relationships with their fathers. Their father’s prior conflicts and decisions influenced these characters to the point of their own demise.
In Hamlet Prince of Denmark young Hamlet is left facing the outcomes of the conflict his father had with his brother. Old Hamlet is dead, killed by his own brother for the thrown of Denmark. Young Hamlet is in deep morning over the loss of his father and now he has to handle the remarriage of his mother to his own uncle, the man who in cold blood killed his father. Hamlet, with the death of his father, is acting strangely but his whole outlook changes for the worst when his father’s ghost visits him. He finds out the true causes of his death and he is influenced by his father to seek revenge. Hamlet’s father tells his son to kill his uncle, Claudius because he is the cause of his death. Hamlet loved his father deeply and would do anything for him. He becomes enraged with anger and hate for Claudius and begins to plot his revenge, Claudius’ own death. Throughout the play his father’s ghost visits Hamlet. Even after his death he has a great control over his son and his actions. These visits are a constant reminder to Hamlet of the truth. Knowing the truth of his father’s death has driven Hamlet to the brink of insanity. The only thing he can think of is revenge. His father’s death and prior conflict with his brother has left Hamlet in a position of honoring his father and doing right by him, and the only thing he sees fit to do is rid himself of the man that brought about the anger Hamlet is feeling. In the end Hamlet finally gets the revenge he sought with the death of Claudius. Unfortunately, the revenge he sought corrupted the entire castle. With the death of Claudius came the death of others, including young Hamlet himself. His hate and anger, that was brought on by his father’s conflicts, death, and own wishes brought about the demise of his own son. It led Hamlet to the point of insanity, to the point of no turning back because he had to fulfill his father’s last desire.
In Oedipus the King, Oedipus never had a relationship with his biological father, but from the time of his birth he was destined to always have a connection to him. It was phophetetcized by the oracle of Delphi that the son of Laius and Jocasta, king and queen of Thebes, would kill his father and marry his mother. Oedipus was born and out of fear his father ordered his death. He was taken to be killed but instead the shepherd hired to leave Oedipus bounded by his feet on top of a mountain gave him to a king and queen in Corinith, who were unable to have children. Here is where the conflict begins; Oedipus is raised never knowing the truth of his birth or of his oracle. He believes that Polybus and Merope are his parents. Years pass and Oedipus is living happily in Corinith until he goes to the Oracle of Delphi and receives a prophecy that he will kill his father and marry his mother. He is dismayed by this, and flees Corinith because he loves Ploybus and Merope so much and does not want to do any harm to them. He flees to Thebes, his birthplace, never knowing that the actions he is about to commit are exactly what the oracle phrophetcized. He walks into his own demise because he never knew the truth. The oracle becomes reality when he kills Lauis upon entering Thebes and he later marries Jocasta, his mother, never knowing all along that the actions of his father and his undying love for the man he believes to be his father will lead to his own demise. Oedipus leads his life blind, never knowing the truth of the corruption that has been brought upon him. Unlike Hamlet, never knowing the truth and then having it suddenly revealed brings Oedipus to point of insanity. He killed his father, married his mother, bore his own sisters, and left a city in destruction; all of this because of the decisions and actions of his father.
Oedipus and Hamlet are two well-known tragic heroes in literature because of their character traits. Each one is strong and intelligent yet they both, under the influence of their fathers, end their life in death and misery over the facts and truths that both discover.These two characters were left to suffer for their father’s decisions. Their strong power over their sons, no matter if it was direct as in Hamlet, or indirect as seen in Oedipus, eventually corrupt their lives and the lives of the people Hamlet and Oedipus love.