The Good, the Bad, and the Tragic: Morality in Hamlet, The Once and Future King, and Oedipus 12th Grade

We face moral dilemmas every day of our lives—whether it’s giving money to a homeless man or taking a peek at a peer’s chemistry test. Fortunately, the stakes aren’t high. The tragic figures of Hamlet, The Once and Future King, and Oedipus experience moral quandaries, too; only these characters struggle instead with violence, murder, and manipulation. The protagonists strive to navigate these plights within the strict bounds of religion. This all-consuming dogma subjects the protagonists to a tenuous morality. Hamlet, Arthur, and Oedipus rely on the divine to determine right and wrong. Upon their inevitable transgressions against dogmatic belief, the characters excuse their sin instead of recognizing man’s tendency to fault. Through their tragedy, Hamlet, Arthur, and Oedipus discover the redemption within moral responsibility. The authors promote this acknowledgement of humanness above godliness. In Hamlet, The Once and Future King, and Oedipus, the protagonists’ construction of morality drives their tragedy.

White and Sophocles mock humanity’s reliance on the gods to define morality. In The Once and Future King and Oedipus, this reliance confuses the characters’ morality and triggers their undoing. In recognizing Oedipus’...

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