In the article “From Strange Interlude to Strange Snow,” Paul Rosefeldt makes a connection between the characters Oedipus and Hamlet, and the motivating forces that create the play’s story. He presents ideas that further the understanding of the plays, some in which most people could agree on and others that refute his claim. One key idea he mentions is that absent characters played a role in dramatic construction.
According to Rosefeldt, an absent character is a person who does not appear in the play, but is the main focus for other characters and important for the play’s plot. Anything associated with the character recreates their presence and motivates the protagonists of the play. After reading “Oedipus the King” and “Hamlet,” I concur with his idea because it provides some valid points. The absence of this character, or more specifically the fathers of the main characters, have influenced their actions throughout the play. One reason is Hamlet and Oedipus face many problems with death. They feel that justice hasn’t been served properly and they must seek out the killers’ of their fathers in order for justice to be served. Second, both characters develop hubris, which affects their family relationships throughout the entire play.
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Finally, both plays ended tragically after they found the truth of their father’s deaths. At the beginning of “Hamlet” and “Oedipus the King,” the audience discovers that a king has been murdered. Hamlet and Oedipus act as detectives in order to find the identity of the murderers and bring them to justice. One of the most significant characteristics in both of the main characters is their individual convictions that it is their solemn duty to rescue their homelands from certain destruction. The settings of the plays, Denmark and Thebes, are in a state of tumult. After King Hamlet’s death Denmark was led by a new court, after Claudius, who in addition murdered him, and became king by marrying his wife, Gertrude.
Hamlet later on learns the real truth about his father’s death when he is haunted by the ghost of his murdered father. ” O cursed spite, That ever I was born to set it right!” he says at the end of act one, scene five. Regardless of the task being achievable or not, sworn by his nobility as the former son and Prince of Denmark, Hamlet’s decision to make things right sets his fate. On the other hand, Thebes was infested with plague and other diseases. According to the message from the oracle, the only way to rid of Thebes of its death and sickness was to find the individual responsible for Laius’ murder. Like Hamlet, Oedipus decides it is his responsibility as the king of Thebes to investigate the murder of Laius without apprehension for his own wellbeing.
Just like Hamlet’s friend, Horatio, who attempts to prevent Hamlet from retaliating against Claudius, Tiresias, a blind prophet, advises not to pursue the murder of Laius, stating “Creon is no threat. You weave your own doom” (Scene 1, Line 365). Despite Tiresias’ warning, he is devoted to revealing the truth at any cost. Although Oedipus and Hamlet both seek vengeance, there is an important difference between the two characters; Hamlet seeks to kill Claudius for murdering his father, and Oedipus, as a result of disregarding Tiresias, is unaware of the retribution he seeks on himself. By realizing the situations they’re in, both characters distinctively develop hubris, which in turn meets their own downfall. They feel an innate sense of duty to their fathers and a need to right the injustice done to them, even as these fathers seem to be less ideal. Oedipus’ relationship with his mother is well-known, as it is an important feature of the play; although particide is considered a grave offense, the prohibition against incest seems to elicit a more visceral response. This is likely why, when the ghost of King Hamlet reveals the truth of his death, he calls his brother “that incestuous, that adulterate beast,” and claims that :with witchcraft of his wit, with traitorous gifts, he won to his shameful lust, the will of my most seeming-virtuous queen” (Act 1, Scene 5).
Oedipus’ crime is transferred onto Claudius, while Hamlet remains the avenger and investigator. This also represents one of the differences between Hamlet and Oedipus, because while Oedipus unknowingly marries his mother and commits a crime, he is affectionate towards her. Hamlet, on the other hand, is aware of the truth and treats his mother with contempt, saying “O, most wicked speed, to post, with such dexterity to incestuous sheets!” (Act 1, Scene 2). In the end, both of their mothers had committed suicide as a result of their hubris. Where Oedipus represents the destruction of family relationships through ignorant hubris, Hamlet represents the destruction of all interpersonal relationships through