Shakespeare's Hamlet and Two of Its Mysteries, Literary Essay Sample

Published: 2022-04-07
Shakespeare's Hamlet and Two of Its Mysteries, Literary Essay Sample
Type of paper:  Course work
Categories: Shakespeare Hamlet
Pages: 3
Wordcount: 667 words
6 min read

1. Years of Freudian debate have linked Hamlet and Oedipus into a seemingly unbreakable unity up to the point where Hamlet is unhesitatingly diagnosed with the Oedipus complex. These two characters, indeed, have much in common. Just like Oedipus, Hamlet is involved in a series of mysterious, violent and tragic events that include the death of his father, his mother's new marriage, the quest to find the murderer and to carry out vengeance. To both of them the whole truth is revealed gradually. Both of them are set into motion by reasons more global than their own private motives - namely, the good of their people and the state that depends upon the restoration of the natural and lawful order of things. Both of them gain a kind of spiritual epiphany as to the ways of the world, the nature of human beings and their tragic lot which is symbolically signified by Oedipus's blindness and Hamlet's silence. Yet the differences here are even more important than the similarities. First of all, the role of Fortune/gods/Providence is quite different in these two stories. Oedipus is told by the oracle that he is going to kill his father and marry his mother, so, he knows his lot in advance, which determines his future destiny. As for Hamlet, he is not aware of the misfortunes to come, though, of course, a sinister premonition saturates the play. While Oedipus is trying to run away from his destiny, Hamlet is ready to act and set right the time, which is out of joint - he sees it as a mission he was born to accomplish. In Oedipus Rex, revenge is a secondary motive, while for Hamlet revenge is the ultimate purpose that finally engulfs his whole being leaving little space for anything else - love, friendship, thirst for power, etc. Finally, though Hamlet is deeply concerned with his mother's private life, he neither marries her, nor kills his father, so, he is not eventually tortured by remorse, while Oedipus commits both crimes which forces him to severely punish himself. Thus, these two characters, though united by modern psychology, are essentially different: Oedipus is a victim of fate so much feared and awed in the times of Antiquity, while Hamlet is a Renaissance hero that is actively building his own fate by making his own choices.

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2. Ophelia is one of the most poetic female characters created by Shakespeare. To a large extent, her charm rests upon such qualities as chastity, innocence, simplicity, and heartedness. Probably, this integrity is what made Hamlet fall in love with her as it stood in such a profound contrast with the hypocritical world he was living in. Being a genuine and sincere soul, Ophelia simply cannot disobey her father, lie to him and pretend, or even plot and scheme behind his back. It is out of her character. If she did this, she would probably only put Hamlet on the alert, as he is tired enough of his mother's treachery. Ophelia could try and let Hamlet know that they are being watched. This might have changed his misogynistic views at least a little for the better. But it would not have changed the whole game. Though Hamlet seems to be in love with Ophelia, his other passion - the desire to change the world and make it a better place - is a much more powerful drive. All his actions are subordinate to the final aim - to restore justice. It seems the only thing Ophelia could have done is to try and stay alive, so that she, like Horatio, could support Hamlet in his quest for justice and remain a living proof that not everything is lost yet, there is still hope for love and peace. But Shakespeare created a beautiful, gentle, fragile and delicate flower totally devoid of thorns - this is who Ophelia is. As such, she is not able to defend herself and is predestined to perish in the cold desert of Elsinore.

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