In the play Hamlet: Prince of Denmark, a young prince is in search of the truth behind his father s murder. At first, Hamlet sees the ghost of his deceased father and it tells him he was murdered by the now current king, Hamlet s Uncle Claudius. Hamlet has to think about how he will get revenge for his fathers death, but because his only knowledge came from a ghost that only Hamlet heard speak, he is hesitant to get his revenge quickly. Hamlet does everything he can to show others the truth he knows. It is important to Hamlet that he gets revenge but he also wants to torment the king and show everyone the truth. Hamlet knows his anger toward his Uncle may cause confusion in his judgement of the truth so he is hesitant to kill him right away. Hamlet second-guesses himself throughout the play only to end up dying, but not before he kills Claudius.
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In Oedipus the king, a child is born to a royal couple, this king and queen want to know how their child will be in the future. So they ask an oracle to tell them the future and it tells them he will kill his father and marry his mother. They have the child taken away to be killed, so they save themselves, but instead the child ends up in a new castle and is raised by another couple as their own child. They never tell Oedipus that he is not their own. When Oedipus hears he is to kill his father and marry his mother, he leaves his parents and searches for a new residence. Except he meets up with a man on the road and kills him. He then finds a castle that is being terrorized by a sphinx and answers the riddle it asks. He then marries the Queen and rules over the kingdom. In the end, the city is threatened by a plague that the oracle said will cease when the city gets rid of the one who murdered the king, Oedipus announces that the murderer will be punished. However, while searching for the truth Oedipus discovers that he is the murderer and the son of his wife. In the end, Oedipus finds his wife/mother hanged herself, so in the midst of all this Oedipus gouges his eyes out and banished himself from the castle.
In both these plays, truth played a major role in the outcome. Hamlet became so engrossed in the truth; he was too hesitant and continued to second-guess himself throughout the play. He may have become king but because truth was so important to him Hamlet ended up dying as well. As for Oedipus, knowing the truth may not be all it is cracked up to be. Would Oedipus have really murdered his father and marry his mother if they had not asked the oracle about the future? These plays question the power of truth but is it better to know what is lurking behind every door, or is it better to be curious about it, but never actually seek it.
Knowing the truth was very powerful in both these plays and it had a major effect on the outcomes of both stories. Maybe by knowing the future the truth is set. If the future remains unknown than so will truth. Truth was a deciding factor in both outcomes of the plays. If the truth were known earlier, it would have changed the entire aspect of each play.
Shakespeare, William. Hamlet: Prince of Denmark.
The Essential theatre 7th edition
Oscar G. Brocket, Robert J. Ball. Harcourt Brace College Publishers