Shakespeare & Sophocles: Revenge & Moral Requirements

Compares & contrasts Shakespeare’s HAMLET with Sophocles’ ELECTRA. Focuses on the theme of revenge & the moral requirements placed on the protagonists.

The central issue in both Hamlet by William Shakespeare and Electra by Sophocles is revenge and the moral requirement placed in the protagonist to seek revenge. Hamlet is charged with seeking revenge by the Ghost of his murdered father. Electra and her brother, Orestes, seek revenge for the murder of their father as well, and they are carrying out a revenge that is expected of them as a moral act to make things right once more. In both cases, the kingdom that had been ruled by the father was in turmoil precisely because the ruler had been murdered, and the act of revenge will also have the effect of returning the kingdom to a state of peace.

Both plays are examples of tragedy and represent examples of that form of drama, and the tragic hero in each case fulfills the norms set down by Aristotle. Tragedy in this conception finds the (…)