Oedipus the King and Alienation

Alienation is the process of becoming a separate part of the society; this is connected to the social side of life. It leaves one with a feeling of loneliness, which can either be mental or physical. As a result, characters in this instance become alienated from the world they live in. Three examples of characters who suffer from alienation are Oedipus from the play Oedipus the King, “the monster” from the novel Frankenstein, and Hamlet in the play Hamlet. These three characters go through the several stages of alienation to relieve themselves from the feeling of loneliness.

The stages of alienation include initiation, journey, suffering, and reconciliation. Initiation is an examination of oneself to decide the steps of changing out of alienation. Journey is the process in which the alienated one goes through different steps, mentally or emotionally, from one experience to the next. Suffering is the pain or distress that alienation causes. Reconciliation is the last step in alienation that reunites the alienated one with their society, peers, or even loved ones.

In the play Oedipus the King, by Sophocles, Oedipus is alienated from the city of Thebes because he kills his own father and commits incest with his own mother. The city of Thebes was under a plague until the murderer of King Laius was found. Oedipus becomes the new King after the death of Laius and begins his search for the murderer. Oedipus searches for Tiresias, the blind prophet. When he gets to Tiresias he asks him what he knows about the murder. Tiresias responds by telling Oedipus the truth brings him nothing except pain.

He continues to refuse to tell Oedipus what he sees. Oedipus gets mad at the old prophet and begins to accuse him of the murder of the King. This angers Tiresias and he tells the truth that he has discovered that Oedipus himself is the murderer of Laius. Tiresias says “he’ll be revealed a brother and a father to his children in his house, husband and son to her who gave him birth; wife-sharer and the killer of his father” (Sophocles 74). Oedipus of course denies these accusations against him and in return he accuses Tiresias and Creon of plotting against him and leaves them.

Oedipus ends up finding out from a shepherd that his real parents are not his biological parents. The original shepherd who took Oedipus in as a child, learned of his fate, that Oedipus would kill his father and marry his mother. He decided it was best to pass the young boy onto another shepherd in the next city over, Corinth. He expected if Oedipus was in a foreign city that his fate would not come true. Oedipus realizes who he is and who his parents are. The last words Oedipus mother says to him were “to live where time allows, and have a better life than the man who fathered you” (Sophocles 89).

His mother ends up killing herself and Oedipus takes the pins from her robes and stabs his eyes out, he then is alienated from the city of Thebes. Oedipus is very much alienated from his society, friends, and family. Oedipus initiation is himself trying to find out the real story behind the murder of the King. His journey is the steps he learns along the way that build up to him discovering who he actually is. It was a long journey for Oedipus in which his fate caught up to him just like Tiresias says, “Oedipus’ cloud of darkness is inescapable, unspeakable, unstoppable, driven by cruel winds” (Sophocles 49).

Oedipus suffers from the fact that he not only killed his father, but married his own mother. He also looks like a liar to the entire city of Thebes, as they trusted him to find the murderer so they could be saved. At the end, Oedipus is reconciled with the truth and decides to stab his eyes. Oedipus is the classical example of a tragic hero who also shows the reality of fate and alienation. In the novel Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley the monster is alienated from the world. The story begins with Captain Robert Walton sailing to the North Pole. His boat gets stuck hundreds of miles from land in sheets of ice.

He decides to write a letter to his sister back in England and he talks about how he wants a male friend to keep him company on the boat. Walton then runs into Victor, a very strange man to say the least. Victor talks about his life to Walton and explains about this creature he made out of human corpses. Back in Geneva, Victor’s hometown, his brother is murdered. The house servant, Justine, is accused of the murder of William. Victor realizes the monster he made is the murderer and Justine is in fact innocent. Victor decides to go on a trip to the Swiss Alps to sleep and relax.

Victor ends up running into the monster. The monster tells him a sad story about how he was alienated from the world and how he killed the boy out of revenge. The monster is mad that he was made alone and has no friends. He talks about how he has a miserable life. The monster says “I, the miserable and the abandoned, am an abortion, to be spurned at, and kicked, and trampled on” (Shelley 67). He explains a story about how a family of cottagers gave him hope that he would soon find compassion. They ended up deserting him and driving him away and this was his last chance to connect with society.

“I am alone and miserable: man will not associate with me; but one as deformed and horrible as myself would not deny herself to me. My companion must be of the same species and have the same defects. This being you must create” (Shelley 143). The monster asks Victor to create a female friend for him. After a lot of convincing, Victor decides to do it. Victor ends up killing his attempt at a monster figuring that the first monster is tricking him so that they can destroy man kind. Victor returns to Geneva to marry Elizabeth and he then remembers the promise of how the monster wanted to be with him on his wedding night.

The night of the wedding the monster ends up killing Elizabeth and Victor’s father passes away from all of the grief. The monster wanted the revenge on Victor for not creating him a companion. Victor ends up chasing the monster down but the story ends with Victor dying and the monster crying over Victor’s dead body. The monster then says he has nothing to live for and goes off to die. Before he goes off, the monster says “Was there no injustice in this? Am I to be thought the only criminal, when all human kind sinned against me” (Shelley 197).

The monster suffers alienation because his maker left him alone with a miserable life. He has no compassion for anything and has no companion to spend his time with. The monster tries to get over alienation by getting revenge on the people who do not help him. His initiation is explaining his story and loneliness to Victor. The monsters journey is the story of his life without compassion, a companion, or anyone to look out for him. He suffers from being lied to a lot and gets revenge by killing people. At the end he realized Victor was the best thing going for him and regrets revenging him, this is the monsters reconciliation.

In the play Hamlet, by Shakespeare, Hamlet is alienated from society, but more importantly from his own family. Hamlet returns home from college to discover that his father, who is also the King, has been murdered. Hamlet’s mother and uncle are now dating, just a few days after his father’s death. I believe the first person to alienate Hamlet is Gertrude. The one person Hamlet would least ever expect to do this to him, his own mother. She has not grieved at all over her husband’s death and has completely ignored Hamlet’s feelings about the situation. She ends up marrying Claudius, who was her husband’s brother, and soon to be found murderer.

Since Claudius marries Gertrude he is the new King, this strongly angers Hamlet. Gertrude does not even see why her son is so angry about the situation. These are two examples that show how Hamlet’s family members alienated him. Then Hamlet catches Claudius and Polonius spying on him, this frustrates Hamlet extremely. Claudius murdered Hamlet’s father and Hamlet is out to prove it. Procrastination stops Hamlet from taking actions into his own hands towards Claudius and this causes problems within the family. Hamlets own two best friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, are even sent just to spy on him and watch him for Claudius.

Hamlet does not know who to tell about the murder so thoughts of suicide posses his mind. He says “I am myself indifferent honest, but yet I could accuse me of such things that it were better my mother had not borne me” (Shakespeare 146). Hamlet is feeling helpless and unaware of what to do about his father’s murder. It only makes it worse on him that he has no parents to talk to about the situation. He has thoughts of killing Claudius but he can not tell his mother, Claudius, Polonius, or Ophelia about his plot to kill Claudius.

Hamlet feels like he is trapped, he says “Denmark’s a prison” (Shakespeare 112). He can speak to no one just as if he were a prisoner in jail. Not having the ability of talking to others for help about situations leaves one with a feeling of alienation. Ophelia also experiences alienation. She experiences hers through Hamlet. Ophelia ends up killing herself though, unlike Hamlet. Gertrude blames Ophelia for the way Hamlet was acting and and says: “For your part, Ophelia, I do wish that your good beauties be the happy cause for Hamlet’s madness” (Shakespeare 140).

The queen has a guilt complex and always has to blame someone; she rests the guilt of Hamlets madness on the shoulders of Ophelia. Hamlet and Ophelia both suffer from alienation. Hamlet has no one to talk to about his whole situation and is forced to feel alienated about it all. He has to figure everything out himself and prove himself right. He is a very strong character and makes it through to prove his point. Hamlet and Ophelia suffer from alienation throughout Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet. Hamlet and Laertes are spied on by Claudius and Polonius so that Claudius is kept safe.

Gertrude also blames Ophelia for Hamlet’s insanity and as a result of the alienation; Hamlet and Ophelia meet a tragic end. These three characters discussed, Oedipus, the monster, and Hamlet, all suffer from various forms of character alienation. All three of them suffer through the stages of alienation: initiation, journey, suffering and reconciliation. In this sense, they are all similar. They also differ in their alienations. Oedipus is not alienated until then end, until his fate unfolds. The monster has been alienated his whole entire life and therefore takes it out by revenging on people.

Hamlet is alienated when he comes home from college and discovers his father has been murdered. Over time Hamlet reconciles and proves himself right, reviving from alienation. Oedipus and the monster never recover from alienation. All of these are examples of characters who have been alienated by different ways. In the end though, fate will always catch up rather it be positive, in Hamlets case, or negative, in Oedipus’. These characters initiated, went for the journey, suffered the pain and they reconciled, all because of alienation.

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