Analysis of A Midsummer Night’s Dream versus Oedipus Rex

We acknowledge the fact that Shakespeare and Sophocles are legendary writers who expressed themselves outright in writing. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, authored by William Shakespeare depicts the life around four Athenian lovers and six other characters who inhabit a forest where most of the play takes place.Oedipus the King is a play by Sophocles which tells the story of a king, Oedipus, in line with a prophecy that he would kill his father and marry his mother. This article analyses similarities and differences between “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Oedipus the King” in context to their religious, cultural, historical settings.

Shakespeare wrote this play approximately between 1595 and 1596 (Calderwood 72). The drama is a comedy about love like many other plays written by Shakespeare. The book was later published by Thomas Fisher on 8 October 1600. David Wiles of London University and Harold Bloom of Yale University both suggest that this play was written for a wedding (Calderwood 93). The structure of this play suggests a historical aristocratic carnival and part of a wedding night.

Sophocles wrote Oedipus Rex in a Greek setting in Thebes. This play was initially performed 429 BC. The play is a story of a tragedy that befell Oedipus who was a king in Thebes. Oedipus Rex was initially written in classical Greek language and later translated to many other languages. The play was first premiered in the Theatre of Dionysus in Athens. Sophocles wrote this play as second in his compositions about plays dealing with Oedipus. The story simply outlines how Oedipus’s own mistakes led to his downfall. Fate is also a great contributor in this story as it follows that all prophecies of the oracle come to be realized no matter how Oedipus tried to run away from fate.

The two plays show a whole lot of differences in their context, humor aspect, levity, tone of the play just to name a few. Kinship is a subject of concern in both plays. Relationship in both plays commands the plots greatly. Family ties affect how all actors relate to each other. David Bevington explains that A Midsummer Night’s Dream tells of the dark side of love (David 84). Oedipus is a king with a clear vision for his people. Clear vision being a metaphor to mean that he is knowledgeable and insightful to the people’s interests at heart. Nevertheless, he is blind to his origin and family ties, and inadvertent crimes. The prophet Tiresias is blind but can clearly see the truth. Great revelations are being revealed to him despite his physical sight being absent.

It is ironic that Tiresias the blind man can see the truth better than Oedipus in spite of his challenge. Oedipus is a proud man no wonder even after he was notified of his future, hedoes notheed to the seer’s advice. He is completely blinded even into incest where he marries his mother unknowingly though.

The two plays portray similarity aspects too. Both plays show points of confusion and mistaken identity to the better part of the play. These plays are ideally set from different cultures. Shakespeare has been primarily influenced by the Greek culture and history to a large extent. Oedipus is a good king who is fighting to restore order among his people but oblivious of the fact that he is to kill his real father, Laertes.

A Midsummer Night’s Dreamis based on a love story thus the theme of love is prominent. Love in this context is divided into two, cruel and comforting. Comforting in the sense that people from the civilized end of this play show love to each other since everyone respect the other with a feeling that everyone has rights and responsibilities. Cruelty is evident in the forest where characters feel insecure from the fairies. Amidst all this insecurity love takes charge of the situation. The lovers seem to lose their rational mind to love seldomly misjudging certain circumstances.

In Oedipus the King, fate is a major theme taking charge all the way. Fate proves that the idea of trying to escape anevent for instancetragedies are what accelerates their happening. Fate makes the prophecy come to be as Oedipus comes to kill his father and marries his mother though unknowingly and later comes to learn his real identity though too late. Fate is an imminent theme in many Greek myths.

Feminism is a topic in the A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The male dominate in all aspects of life. The female primary achievement is to get married. Men do whatever they please as some laws apply only to women to deter them from doing certain things for example following their passion in life. Men pursue their drems to the point of being recognized far and wide. Louis Montrose outlines the gender roles and norms according to Elizabethan culture (A Midsummer Night’s Dream 34).

Maurice Hunt explains the faint beings of reality and fantasy (Maurice Hunt 54). Shakespeare presents the fairy world eloquently preparing the reader’s mind to understand the fairy world. Maurice argues that the breakdown of the identities of individuals is the point that the central conflict occurs. A fairy dispute causes nature disturbance between Oberon and Titania which affects therelationship between other lovers. Failure to identify is what similarly makes Puck mistake a pack of couples for another.

Gender oppression is at its height in the Oedipus Rex. Laius being a guest to Pelops king of Elis abducted and raped Chrysippus, the youngest son of the king. Chrysippus later committed suicide due to shame. After Laius and Queen Jocasta sire a son, Laius learns that he is doomed to be killed by this child. He orders the servant to kill the child, but he hesitantly takes him up the mountain to die there from exposure.The child is rescued by a shepherd who names him Oedipus, which means swollen feet. The child is taken to another childless king, Polybus of Corinth, who raises him up as his own. 

Identity crisis emerges when Oedipus hears a rumor that he was not a biological son to Polybus and Merope. He learns of the prophecy from the Oracle that he is to kill his father and marry his mother. Oblivious to the truth, he runs away from home to escape that fate. On his way to Thebes, he meets Laius whom they quarrel, killing him together with his men fulfilling part of the prophecy. He later cracks a riddle that had baffled many even the diviners. The question asked who walks on fours in the morning, in twos in the afternoon and threes in the evening. He answered man since a toddler crawls on fours, walks upright when older and needs a walking stick at old age. He is given the widowed queen as his wife hence becoming the kingfulfills the prophecy entirely.

The two plays are a complete reverse of each other. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a comedy while Oedipus Rex is a tragedy. A Midsummer Night’s Dream begins with a problem that is later on solved successfully while Oedipus Rex begins with a problem that ends up as a tragedy.Tragedies and comedies start with serious problems, and the difference is noted in the repercussions and the way both problems are solved whether they are completely solved or partly. The consequences the victims face are also factors to consider.

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