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Oedipus Rex and Hamlet are stories that describe the tragic lives of the protagonists as they fight with both people and spirits in determining their fates. Oedipus Rex describes the story of Oedipus the king from the time he is asked by the people of Thebes to come and rescue them from the curse, to the time he dies in Colonus. Oedipus born to the former king and queen of Thebes, Laius and Jocasta is brought up in a foreign city after a prophecy is made that he would kill his father and sleep with his mother. Despite all the efforts he makes to avoid it, the prophecy comes true and he eventually dies in Colonus while in exile (Sophocles and Barby 7-230).
Throughout his life, Oedipus meets conflicts with himself, other people and the unknown. In the conflict of man vs. himself, Oedipus learns from the auricle that he would kill his father and sleep with his mother thus he fights with himself and flees away so as to prevent it from happening. He also meets a conflict with himself when the truth about his identity is revealed thus he blinds himself saying that "What good were eyes to me?" and asks to be exiled (Sophocles and Barby 186). He does all this as he fights with his conscience.
The other conflict that Oedipus is found in is that between him and other people. He quarrels with Tiresias, Creon, Jocasta and the shepherds when he wants to known the truth about the murderer of Laius. He is annoyed at their stubbornness to give him the right information therefore he becomes angry and demand information by force (Sophocles and Barby 134). He even threatens Creon and tortures the shepherd. The third conflict is when he fights with the spirits at the oracle when he is told that he would kill his father and marry his mother (Sophocles and Barby 56). He insists on knowing the significance of the prophecy but he is not given a solid answer. The conflict arises not because he feared the prophecy but because he wanted to know his identity; really parents, but the oracle did not tell him.
Hamlet on the other hand describes the story of a young man named hamlet who is approached by a ghost, his late father's spirit telling him to seek revenge for his father's death. The deceased King Hamlet is killed by his brother Claudius who in turn inherits the throne and marries Gertrude, the king's widow. Throughout the story, hamlet desires and prepares to take revenge but he has to use both logic and evidence before revenging on his uncle, a situation that makes him to take longer in accomplishing his mission. He finally succeeds but his revenge involves the death of the whole royal family including himself (Shakespeare 20-120).
Throughout the story, hamlet fights with himself, other people and the unknown. In the man vs. himself conflicts, we see that after the ghost approaches him and ask him to take revenge, hamlet does not take action immediately; he seeks the truth before killing his uncle. Thus he sets a trap with the actors so as to see his uncle's reaction during the play. And even after confirming the truth, he does not kill him immediately; he finds him praying and postpones the mission with the belief that his uncle's soul will go to heaven as he recounts ".... And so he goes to heaven" (Shakespeare 109). This shows how his conscience fights with himself. In man vs. others, hamlet fights with Claudius in a non-physical conflict when the two secretly plan to kill each other. Another man vs. others conflict is the battle between hamlet and Laertes after Laertes learns that hamlet stabbed his father. The other conflict is man vs. unknown. This conflict is illustrated when the ghost approaches him and tells him to avenge his father's death. The ghost tells him that it must take revenge because it is not pleased by the fact that Claudius married the widow and inherited the throne as well (Shakespeare 10).