Hamlet and Orestes: Contrasting Heroes
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The hero of the revenge tragedy is known for having certain characteristics. These include that the hero is compelled to act by certain forces, that the existing authorities are unwilling or incapable of satisfying the hero's craving for justice, that the hero has a detailed and devious plan they are determined to carry out and that there is a moment of declaration where the avenger tells the victim why they are going to be killed. "Hamlet" (William Shakespeare) and "The Libation Bearers" (Aeschylus) are two revenge tragedies, with the heroes of each Hamlet and Orestes. Since Hamlet and Orestes are both revenge heroes, it would be suggested that they are similar characters and they would each meet the criteria of the revenge hero. However, a close look at the two plays in this paper show that Hamlet and Orestes are very different characters. Orestes meets the fours criteria of the classic revenge hero, while Hamlet pushes all the boundaries of what would be expected and either only partially meets, or does not meet, the four criteria at all. To illustrate the differences, Hamlet and Orestes are compared, based on the four characteristics identified.
From the Paper:"The second characteristic of the classic revenge tragedy hero is that the existing authorities are unwilling or incapable of satisfying the hero's craving for justice. In both plays, the authorities are unwilling to right the situation, meaning that it is left to the hero to right it. Hamlet's and Orestes's circumstances are the same on this point. However, the two heroes differ in that Orestes has a craving to right the situation and Hamlet does not. The circumstances in both plays are very similar. In Hamlet, Claudius has killed the king and assumed the role of king. This puts Claudius in the role of power and since Claudius is at the highest level, the authorities cannot right the situation. This creates a need for someone to right the situation and Hamlet is assigned to this task. Seeking revenge is then a way to avenge Claudius's murder, as well as to restore harmony. In The Libation Bearers Orestes's mother Clytaemnestra has murdered her husband and Orestes's father, King Agamemnon. Clytaemnestra has obtained the highest seat of power, just as Claudius did. With Clytaemnestra at the highest level, the authorities cannot right the situation. The task of righting the situations falls to Orestes, with this necessary both to revenge his father's murder and to restore harmony."
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Hamlet and Orestes: Contrasting Heroes (2003, July 09) Retrieved August 13, 2020, from https://www.academon.com/analytical-essay/hamlet-and-orestes-contrasting-heroes-28889/
"Hamlet and Orestes: Contrasting Heroes" 09 July 2003. Web. 13 August. 2020. <https://www.academon.com/analytical-essay/hamlet-and-orestes-contrasting-heroes-28889/>