Sophocles Oedipus Tyrannus Platos ‘Crito Platos ‘Euthyphro and Shakespeares Hamlet

Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus, Plato’s ‘Crito’, Plato’s ‘Euthyphro’, and Shakespeare’s Hamlet

The essay for this unit will consist of a 1500 word critical analysis of TWO texts studied on the unit up to and including week 7: Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus, Plato’s ‘Crito’, Plato’s ‘Euthyphro’, and Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Students must choose to answer ONE of the questions below.

NOTE: Students must make detailed reference to the primary texts in their answer and include direct quotations from the texts, as well as make reference to secondary resources. Students can choose to be independent in their research, but they can also choose to make use of the secondary reading lists on the unit’s vUWS site. In all instances, students should not resort to quoting from general online secondary resources.

QUESTION 1:
‘Frailty, thy name is woman!
A little month, or ere those shoes were old
With which she followed my poor father’s body,
Like Niobe, all tears, why –
O God, a beast that wants discourse of reason
Would have mourned longer! – married with my uncle,
My father’s brother, but no more like my father
Than I to Hercules. Within a month,
Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears
Had left the flushing in her galled eyes,
She married. Oh, most wicked speed, to post
With such dexterity to incestuous sheets!
It is not, nor it cannot come to good.’
(Act 12, Scene 2, l. 146-158)

In his soliloquy in Act 12, Scene 2, Hamlet expresses his anger over his mother’s speedy marriage to his Uncle, Claudius. Hamlet’s language frames Gertrude as both a sensual and frail, or morally weak, character. Using this speech as a starting point, discuss the treatment of women more broadly in the play, and compare and contrast this treatment with the female characters in Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus.

QUESTION 2:
‘Let four captains
Bear Hamlet like a soldier to the stage,
For he was likely, had he been put on,
To have proved most royal’.
(Act 5, Scene 2, l. 369-372)

At the end of Hamlet, Fortinbras claims that had Hamlet been alive to rule as King of Denmark, he would have been a good king. Oedipus is King of Thebes in Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus, and Hamlet is (for most of the play) heir to the Danish throne in Hamlet. With reference to their royal positions in Thebes and Denmark, compare and contrast the characters of Hamlet and Oedipus.

QUESTION 3:
‘To be or not to be – that is the question.
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them.’
(Act 3, Scene 12, l. 57-61)

In his soliloquy in Act 3, Scene 2, Hamlet indirectly poses the question to himself of whether he should suffer the murder of his father, or enact his revenge against his father’s killer: his uncle, the king. Here and throughout the play, Hamlet debates the right or moral course of action. Compare and contrast the discussion of morality, and/or the moral course of action, in Hamlet and EITHER Plato’s ‘Crito’, OR Plato’s ‘Euthyphro’.

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