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Images of Oedipus, Socrates, and Hamlet in the Interpretation of Tragic Heroes

King Oedipus is the central character of the same name’s play, a bright and significant person with an unshakable strength of spirit and a thirst for knowledge. The literary prototype of King of Thebes is the central character of Shakespeare’s play ‘Hamlet.’ Prince of Denmark is a multifaceted image, which is attractive for beliefs in the truth, the desire to understand the essence of human existence. The famous Greek philosopher Socrates had similar thoughts and actions.

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He continued to preach wise ideas and share them with people, despite the vicissitudes of evil fate. Socrates considered this a mission God had entrusted to him and could not deny what he said or did. These memorable images have crossed the time in which they lived and performed actions. Thus, the enormous power of tragic denunciation contained in the temper, nature, and actions of these characters has not lost its relevance even today.

Sophocles’ Oedipus is a classic example of a tragic hero who courageously accepts the blows of fate, preserves his greatness and self-respect under all circumstances. He is determined to find out the whole truth about his origin, not afraid of it. This unshakable strength of spirit is found again in Shakespeare’s hero – Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Hamlet is also at war with the fate that took his father, but he is also fighting with himself to give answers to impossible questions. The most significant life merit of the great ancient Greek philosopher Socrates consisted of a tireless struggle against his contemporaries’ lies, vanity, and greed.

He searched for the truth to the last, was not afraid to oppose society and called on others to search for it — and it ended badly for him. In fact, what Oedipus, Hamlet, and Socrates reflect on with an external superficial similarity turns out to be essentially incomparable objects. Oedipus says: ‘How dreadful the knowledge of the truth can be, when there’s no help in truth.’ Therefore, these persons are becoming more and more accustomed to the imperfection of the world, which once seemed fundamental.

Socrates faced cruelty and cynicism towards his person too; he was sentenced to death because of his philosophy and belief in a higher God. The sage rejected the request to be saved, accepted the offer with the most incredible calmness, and believed that that was not a catastrophe for him. He died in the full force of his genius, with imperturbable nobility of the soul, like a hero after victory, a martyr who sealed truth. Socrates believed that flight would be incompatible with his teaching, would disgrace him. Death was easy for Socrates, with the blissful consciousness that he was constantly improving himself and his friends.

The truth that Oedipus learned horrified him: he would kill his father, marry his mother, and from this marriage, children would be born, cursed by the Gods, and hated by all people. The character says: ‘How terrible – to see the truth when the truth is only pain to him who sees!’. Oedipus is ready to be responsible for his actions – he is ready to suffer the most severe punishment for what he has done, even if out of ignorance. The tragic threat is all-powerful with his life, but it can do nothing against his soul, against the strength of his spirit. Although the death of a person is tragic, the tragedy has content – the moral death of a character, what led him to a destructive path ending, as also happened with Hamlet.

In conclusion, Oedipus, Hamlet, and Socrates are united by firmness, steadfastness of the spirit, thirst for knowledge, and a tragic fate due to predestination and a ‘special destiny.’ The characters are truth-seekers, the philosophers who ‘lose their minds’ in the pursuit of truth. They can do anything but in different ways in these searches and do not care about the danger of specific actions and deeds.

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Work Cited

Sophocles. Oedipus Rex. Edited by Harold Bloom, New York: Chelsea House, 2007.

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StudyCorgi. "Images of Oedipus, Socrates, and Hamlet in the Interpretation of Tragic Heroes." December 22, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/images-of-oedipus-socrates-and-hamlet-in-the-interpretation-of-tragic-heroes/.

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StudyCorgi. 2022. "Images of Oedipus, Socrates, and Hamlet in the Interpretation of Tragic Heroes." December 22, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/images-of-oedipus-socrates-and-hamlet-in-the-interpretation-of-tragic-heroes/.

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StudyCorgi. (2022) 'Images of Oedipus, Socrates, and Hamlet in the Interpretation of Tragic Heroes'. 22 December.

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