Hamlet and Agamemnon are two extraordinary and timeless plays. Both plays deal with the big themes of love, loss, pride, the abuse of power and the fraught relationships between men and gods. Hamlet and Agamemnon, the protagonist of the plays that were named after them, are two tragic heroes that commit some terrible crime without realizing how foolish and arrogant they have been. Both protagonist are of higher status, and have power. However, Hamlet is more tragic than Agamemnon, for several reasons. Hamlet is a good, kind men. He is the Prince of Denmark and loved by the Danish people. Unfortunately for him, his beloved father, King Hamlet, dies. Hamlet loves his father very much, and he is deeply hurt when his dad passed away. He is even more shocked and hurt by the fact that his mother, Queen Gertrude, marries his uncle, Claudius, shortly after her husband died. Prince Hamlet sees and has a conversation with his father’s ghost.
He learns that the King of Denmark was murdered by his brother, Claudius. Hamlet swears to avenge his father, and he starts to play mad so he can gather evidence and put his plan in motion. At first, he is not completely sure that the ghost was his father, and he tries to get confirmation by inviting King Claudius and Queen Gertrude to a play based on what the ghost had told him. After he is convinced that his father was murdered, he plans to kill Claudius. Hamlet is not very eager to kill his uncle, he is not happy about the situation, and he does not act fast. Agamemnon is completely different than Hamlet. He rapes Clytemnestra and murders her husband. King Agamemnon did not stop there. After he marries Clytemnestra, he sacrifices their youngest daughter, Iphigenia, to gain favourable winds to take the Greek fleet to Troy. King Agamemnon seems to be more like King Claudius. Both of them killed the rightful King, took his wife, and killed or planned to kill the Queen’s child.
Agamemnon kills his daughter, Claudius plots to kill Hamlet at least twice. Agamemnon is popular, and appreciated for his battles skills and victories. He doesn’t seem to care much about other persons and values, other than his power, battles victories, and the public’s adoration. Hamlet killes Polonius when he was talking with his mother after the play. Polonius was hiding, and ears dropping for the King. When Gertrude thought that Hamlet wants to attack her, she yelled for help, and Polonius responded, calling for help from behind the arras. In an unusual moment of spontaneous action, Hamlet stabs the concealed figure, believing it to be Claudius. The death of Polonius cased great suffering to Ophelia, his daughter. She gets a little bit mad, singing nonsense about death and sex, and ends up drowning herself. Laertes, Polonius’s son, wants justice for his father, and becomes another potential revenge hero, but unlike Hamlet, he is more determined.
He doesn’t care about the spiritual part of death like Hamlet. King Claudius adds fuel to the fire, and convinced Laertes to kill Hamlet in a duel. Laertes tells Claudius that he will poisoned the tip of the blade, to kill Hamlet. Claudius promised to poison the wine in case Laertes fails to scratch Hamlet with his sword. Hamlet is not aware of this plot, and accepts Claudius’s offer to fight Laertes. During the fight, there is a switch of rapiers, resulting in both Hamlet and Laertes being stabbed with the poisoned blade. Gertrude, meanwhile, mistakenly drinks the poisoned wine. She dies and Hamlet demands that they seek out the treachery that killed her. Laertes, realizing that he and Hamlet are both dying, explains everything and blames Claudius. Hamlet kills Claudius with the poisoned sword, finally fulfilling his quest for revenge. Laertes begs Hamlet to exchange forgiveness with him and dies. Hamlet forgives Laertes.
Horatio wants to drink from the poisoned wine, so he can die with Hamlet, but he is stopped by the Prince. Hamlet tells Horatio that he must live in this horrible world so he can tell Hamlet’s story. Lord Hamlet announces that Fortinbras, Prince of Norway, will be the next king of Denmark and dies. Despite the fact that in the end, Prince Hamlet, Laertes, King Claudius, Queen Gertrude, and Ophilia died, the order in the kingdom is restored. Clytemnestra is the one seeking revenge in Agamemnon. During Agamemnon’s ten year absence, Clytemnestra and her lover, Aegistheus, planned to murder Agamemnon on his return. Clytemnestra wants revenge for her daughter, Iphegenia. When Agamemnon comes back, he brings with him, as concubine and slave, the ravished Trojan Princess, Cassandra. Cassandra has the gift of prophecy, but nobody believes her, thanks to Apollo’s curse. She sees the Clytemnestra plans to kill both Agamemnon and Cassandra, but the Chorus do not believe her. Princess Cassandra prays for a quick death, a wish that would be granted. Agamemnon commits hubris.
He agrees to walk on the ‘red carpet’ that has been rolled out for him by his wife, even though he mentions it is treatment meant only for the gods. Clytemnestra preparing her husband for a bath, put on him a bath-robe she had cunningly sewn to be a strait jacket. Wearing this, Agamemnon was completely helpless. His wife butchered and buried him without honours. She does the same to Cassandra. In Hamlet, King Claudius dies, King Hamlet finds peace, and Denmark gets rid of a bad king. Hamlet is buried like a soldier, having a military funeral. In a way, in Hamlet, Laertes commits hubris as well. He dares damnation and he mentions he would kill his father’s murderer in a church. Since both Laertes and Agamemnon commit hubris, both of them die shortly after, which is the element of nemesis in tragedy.
Hamartia element, a tragic error, can be seen in Agamemnon when Agamemnon enters the house with Cassandra, trusting that Clytemnestra (his wife) is in fact happy to see him. Similarly in Hamlet, Hamlet agrees to duel with Laertes, not knowing that he is going to die by Laertes hand. Hamlet was a kind and honorable person. While he wanted revenge for his father, in a way he was right to do so. He did not wanted and enjoyed the idea of killing Claudius, but he pulled himself together at the last minute, right before he died. King Claudius was guilty of murdering a King, stealing a Kingdom, a Queen, and planning the murder of Prince Hamlet.
Hamlet played for his revenge with his life. Since he was buried as a soldier, and the order was restored in Denmark, the Danish people did not hate him for his sins. Also, in Hamlet, we have more death on stage. Innocent people died, like Ophelia and Polonius. Agamemnon is completely different. He raped, he killed in cold blood, he sacrificed his own daughter to win a war, and he committed hubris, and took hostage the Princess of Troy. His wife, while she might be right in a way to avenge her daughter, she was looking forward to the task of killing Agamemnon and she also killed Cassandra, even thou she was innocent. Clytemnestra and he lover, wanted to be in power and had no remorse. Hamlet is more tragic than Agamemnon, because of the innocence and remorse the major characters showed.
Courtney from Study Moose
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