Hamartia can be viewed a divine interventions or mental invasion by divinity, in human existence for destructive purpose. (Golden, 1978, p.
3-12). Moreover according to Harsh, Hamartia can be properly understood by the concept of tragic flaw and that this concept represents a moral failing, a weakness in the character of the hero. Then Harsh states that Aristotle judged that main influential tragic character should be at least in part morally in charge for his destiny (Harsh, 1978, pp. 3-12). There are four terrains for downfall of the tragic protagonist; first is fate, second is malevolence of particular deity, third is the ill will of some other human beings and the least but not the last is a defect in attitude or wrong decision on the part of the hero himself.
Later he shows the link between the second and forth one by believing that the responsibility of the man who makes it or can be something induced normally by the gods putting the man in such a positions that he has little choice but to make decisions that will latter recoil on him with disastrous and above all disproportionate consequence (Golden, 1978, p. 3-12). As it is clear the Hamartia is an element of tragedy so Aristotle claims tragedy as the mimesis of an action involving pity and fear. (Pity is a technical term which refers to the painful emotion we feel in the face of undeserved misfortune, and fear is a technical term that refers to the same emotion when it focuses on our own, personal vulnerability to such undeserved misfortune (Cameron 2014, pp.
161-177) .This paper is an attempt to show the hamartia in both Shakespeare’s play Hamlet and Sophocle’s play Oedipus Rex. Hamlet was not good at making decisions which ultimately leads him to his downfall and Oedipus, on the other hand, was very proud and arrogant who end up destroying himself.
In Hamlet by William Shakespeare, Hamlet’s indecision or uncertainty plays an immense role in producing the result of the play. According to the author there are possibly various Hamartia showed in Hamlet, The one which looks vivid is his Indecisiveness. Hamlet finds very hard to make up his mind about several complex situations that he is encountered with. A great example is his clash with either or not he should assassin Claudius. Hamlet’s flaw was that he ruined his life by not confronting the problem earlier, instead he wanted to obtain proof beyond reasonable doubt to justify what he wanted to do to Claudius, and nothing else would suffice.(Mueller, 1997, pp. 22-45). Therefore Hamlet makes a play within the play in order to see how Claudius reactions would be after seeing the play which was about poisoning the ear of the king while he was asleep.
Even when Hamlet has fixed upon a plan to uncover his uncle through a play in which the events of his father’s murder will be performed, we have him saying Am I a coward? Who calls me villain? breaks my pate across? Plucks off my beard and blows it in my face? Tweaks me by the nose? Gives me the lie i’ th’ throatAs deep as to the lungs? Who does me this?Ha, ‘swounds, I should take it, for it cannot beBut I am pigeon-livered and lack gallTo make oppression bitter, or ere thisI should ha’ fatted all the region kitesWith this slave’s offal.
Bloody, bawdy villain!Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless villain!0, vengeance!Why, what an ass am I! This is most brave,That I, the son of a dear father murdered,Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell,Must, like a whore, unpack my heart with wordsAnd fall a-cursing like a very drab,A stallion! Fie upon’t, foh! About, my brains.(II.ii.556-73)But even this very temperate action is unable to clear away the persistent doubts and fears that separate Hamlet from the epic and tragic heroes that are mentioned previously. In III.i.60-88, we have the most famous of all soliloquies, and it is not one that would have been spoken in Oedipus: (Golden, 1978, p. 3-12) To be, or not to be-that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer However, when hamlet has an appointment with his mother, Polonius was listening to them and hid himself behind the curtain, in that scene, once hamlet feels of that there was someone behind the curtain, hamlet put out the sword and killed the person without making sure whether the person was his real enemy or not, namely, Hamlet thought he has killed Claudius, here it is obvious that hamlet again entrapped in hesitate decision without seeing who was the figure behind the curtain ,then make up his mind. (Golden, 1978, p. 3-12).
Interestingly, we see that hamlet gets a good chance to retaliate his father’s murder while seeing his Uncle Claudius praying on the church , hamlet says A villain kills my father, and for that, I his sole son do this same villain send to heaven hence he thinks that if he kills his uncle while he is praying ,his uncle won’t be punished in hereafter which is not the idea that he liked about the revenge but controversially, he wanted to damn his uncle’s soul and send him to hell. In terms of religion, Hamlet’s believe in life and after life impacted on him and prevented him to choose taking revenge for his father’s murderer. Furthermore, Even after the Polonius scene when Hamlet is more certain than ever of the rectitude of his anger against Claudius, we find him in the same mood as earlier in the play: once hamlet kills Polonius, in which he supposed to act as conscious and no more pretending to be crazy but that seems hard on him to change, his speech is a good evident as the following :(Golden, 1978, p. 3-12)I do not knowWhy yet I live to say, ‘This thing’s to do,’ Sith I have cause, and will, and strength, and meansTo do’t.
Examples gross as earth exhort me. Witness this army of such mass and charge, Led by a delicate and tender prince, Whose spirit, with divine ambition puffed, Makes mouths at the invisible event, Exposing what is mortal and unsure(IV.iv.43-66) Sophocles, on the other hand, shoes the self “assertion which is an act of asserting one’s superiority over others, in the of play Oedipus Rex, Oedipus has over pride which ultimately leads him to his downfall, in the beginning of the story, Oedipus thinks he is able to solve the riddle by sphinx while the other people which wise and intelligent were among them could not dare to solve the riddle, According to the author, Oedipus possess traits which are important flaws. He has self “confident as well as arrogant so in the ability of human reason, relying in his extraordinary intellect to come up with solutions for all the issues and while he is untouched by the compassion for his community, still holds himself above common men, and is looked upon almost as god by such men (Kane, 1975, p. 16-20)
The tragedy of Oedipus fates lies in his search for truth and his personal excesses of pride. However noble his efforts, however honorable his reasons, his excessive pride blinds him to the truth of reality in favor of the truths that he wish to be ( Olszewski) But according to Alireza (2013) the theory of tragic flaw of Aristotle works only when tragic hero possesses fatal flaws and element of over pride. This element is very much clear in the character of Oedipus, despite of the intervention of destiny, there is a tragic flaw and self-confidence and over pride which lead Oedipus toward the verse conditions. In so many places in the play his pride has been revealed by Sophocles. Basically the concept of tragic flaw has been discussed by Aristotle in his Poetics. According to him the best fitting hero is the one, who has qualities of a great man but due to the element of judgmental error, he will suffer and make such decisions which will lead him toward his downfall (Peter, 2003). So these qualities can also be seen in the character of Oedipus. In the beginning of the play the character of Oedipus has been shown as an ideal tragic hero. In order to save his people, he tries his best but at the same time his character shows that he is actually fighting against himself. He starts search for the cursed polluted thing which has become the main cause of destruction of the city.
In order to save his pride and popularity in Thebes, he becomes very much frustrate person. His speech with Prophet Tiresias reveals that he is the actual killer of his father but due to tragic flaw he does not stop searching until he finds the reality. Not only this but in the second scene, when he solves the riddle of Sphinx, he gets queen as a gift, but he ignores her age. It is possible that she may be his mother because she is as old as his mother can be. When Shepherd reveals that he is not originally from Corinth, he seems to be shocked and again starts an investigation, in order to know the reality. His curiosity for self-identification does not let him to go far from reality. Being a self-determent person he neglects even his beloved wife Jocasta, who tries to stop him from the inquiring facts and figures about his reality because she knows all. In the last, when shepherd of Thebes refuses to reveal the truth, Oedipus abuses him and even he puts influence on him to tell the truth. Eventually it was his self-investigation and determination about himself which leads him toward his own tragic flaw.
If he did not investigate any thing, then he would not be banished from Thebes and might be living with his beloved Oedipus blames on Creon about conspiracy against his kingdom he does not consider the words of Prophet but against of this, he put blames on the Creon and Prophet. Because of his anger and pride, he calls Prophet as blind and evokes him to let the cat be out of the cage. As the play moves forward we come to know that due to pride and his own free will, Oedipus has made mistake so many times in the past. When he meets with people where three roads meet, due to pride he does not pay any attention on their commands and starts fighting with them and in the last kills them (830-840). When he solves the riddle of Sphinx, he gets queen as a gift, but he ignores her age. It is possible that she may be his mother because she is as old as his mother can be.
Overall, what differentiates hamlet with Oedipus Rex is that hamlet is uncertain and unable to make the right decisions and the avenge is the major impact on his thought while Oedipus has too much pride which leads him to his tragic flaw, hamlet would not have a tragic flaw if he could have made his thoughts and decided to do the right things at the right moment, interestingly, if he had killed his uncle Claudius while he was praying, which considered to be a thoughtful mistake(Mueller, 1997, pp. 22-45). None of the other events would have occurred like Ophelia’s suicide, his mother’s drinking poison however Oedipus was feeling he can challenge his fate and defeat it ,his self-excessive pride was the essential reason of his downfall, if he did not care of the riddle by the sphinx, he would not end up killing his father and marrying his mother the least but not the last blinding himself.