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Several books have been written and each of them presents different themes and characters with specific objectives that should be fulfilled. Every author has a message to convey in these writings. The message may be political, social and economical, among others. Moreover, a number of authors use different styles in conveying their messages. These include parables, poetry, satire, and many others, depending on the theme and plot of their story. In order to identify the author’s message from a story, it is quit important to analyze it. Characters should be identified by their roles in the story as well as the theme of the story. Through this, it is possible to draw inferences from the author’s mind and explore the possible ideas and messages presented. Character analysis is therefore a key component of showing adequate understanding of the story. This paper will attempt to asses the characters in the following set of books and plays: The New Testament, Oedipus the King, Shakespeare Hamlet and Shikibu the tale of the Genji (Lawall et al. pp.3-67). The paper analyzes the characters as they are portrayed in the stories besides relating some of these characters to the real world.
Shikibu the tale of the Genji
The novel, whose protagonist, Genji, also known as Minamoto, meaning a commoner, is born to Kiritsubo and the Emperor. Genji’s mother is considered the true love of the emperor. However, she comes from the lower court; she dies of mental anguish and leaves Genji an orphan at the age of three. Genji’s life is surrounded by many events, ranging from incest, infidelity, to imperial office works. He marries three women and continues with love affairs, notably with his father’s new wife Lady Fujitsuro. They have a son, whose real identity is unknown to the emperor who is crowned prince. Genji is therefore a sycophant, unfaithful, and dishonest going by his deeds throughout the novel (Shikibu pp.1-200). The character traits may be as a result of Genji’s desire for the love that he never got as a young person. This leads him astray into becoming a weak character that can not withstand temptations from women not even his step-mother. This can serve as a warning to parents who fail to show love to their children as early as the age of 2 years. As they come of age, they will try as much as possible to avenge the mistakes of their parents by even becoming self-proclaimed murders. Genji lives an emotionally unstable life until he dies (this is implied in the blank chapters). This indicates the implications of such characters. Therefore, it is advisable that people displaying such characters be referred to psychiatrists for help at an early age before they become monsters.
This Story is about a hero in Danish kingship, prince Hamlet whose father the King is killed by his uncle Claudius. He grows up and later gets to be told of the incident by his father’s ghost, pleading for revenge. Hamlet, himself is embroiled in a love affair with Ophelia, Polonius’s daughter and Lartes’ brother. Polonius is Claudius’s advisor, he keeps following the stories around the kingship, and this accidentally gets him killed by Hamlet. There is a plot to kill Hamlet, when Claudius realizes that he knows the secret of his father’s death, this brings the climax of the story where , the king plots with Lartes to kill Hamlet in a match, he puts poison in a drink, while Lartes puts his on the sword. Events that follow ensure everyone is dead except Hamlet’s friend Horatio, who is left to explain the incident. Hamlet is seen as an avenger and is given that role by his father through his ghost (Crystal p.23). Looking at the history of Hamlet and Genji, there is something the two have in common. The two young men are orphaned at a very tender age. Therefore, the two are deprived of the love of their parents notably the father who is supposed to guide his son into manhood.
Lack of love and parental guidance at a tender age makes the two characters avengers. However, unlike Genji who is fighting for his mother’s love through being involved with different women, Hamlet seeks to avenge his father’s demise by being involved with people who are close to those he perceives to be the main factors behind his father’s death. The implication of their character is the same. They both end up dying. Avenge may seem right to those victimized but they need to bear in mind the fact that, the measure one uses on his brother will also be used upon that individual. Avenge and sycophancies are not good characters since instead of solving a problem, they create another.
Oedipus the king
This is an ancient story about a King of Thebes called Laius, who had begotten Oedipus with his wife Jocasta. The protagonist’s father had been cursed for violating sacred laws when he abducted and raped Chrysippus, the youngest of King Pelops’ sons. This curse was fulfilled even though Laius tried to kill Oedipus at infancy. He went through the care of shepherds to the King of Corinth where he grew up. When it was revealed to him that he was not the King’s son, he decided to consult an oracle, which instead said he would sleep with his mother. Trying to escape, he went to Thebes, killing his father on the way, after a quarrel. When all these became known, Jocasta committed suicide, leaving him dilapidated, plunging gold pins in his eyes. Oedipus is portrayed as morally upright and cannot stand an abomination (Mitchell-Boyask p.1).
The New Testament is part of the bible that contains Christian beliefs, which seems to conflict other faiths like Muslims and Judaism. The main Protagonist in the 27 books is Jesus Christ of Nazareth. He is Believed to be the Messiah that was to come and had been awaited throughout the Old Testament to redeem the Israelites. He clearly disagrees with the mode of priesthood in the Jews culture and constantly contradicts their faith. The Jews priests in turn accuse him of blasphemy and finally get an opportunity to crucify him on the cross with their false accusations. One of his 12 disciples called Judas, betrays him to the Jews and makes it much easier, but he says that God the Father had planned it all. He resurrects and all his disciples witness this, He then goes to heaven, setting the disciples to preach the word of salvation, which he had brought to humanity, by dying for their sins on the cross. He also gives numerous revelations of his second coming, through his servants (Smith p.1). The birth and live of Jesus can be likened to that of Oedipus. Their births are surrounded by controversies as the two are said to be unwanted. Their enemies try to stop their births but in vain. They also share the same fate; one is crucified while the other is dilapidated. They are both victimized because of their stand for humanity, brotherhood, the new faith and honesty.
Unlike Jesus, Oedipus is also portrayed as an avenger and of weak faith. When the Oracle predicts that he will finally sleep with his mother; he believes and tries to run away and in the process kills his father for his deeds. Jesus is of strong faith and forgiving. Even when it dawns to Him that he will be crucified and betrayed by one of his disciples; he does not run away or try to avenge. He held to His faith to the last minute thereby fulfilling what had been foreseen. There is a lot one can learn from the two characters charging form their live histories. There is need to be faithful, believers, persevering, decrease and increase according to hardships if at all we are to live the life that we desire. Avenge leads to death and deterioration as depicted in the story of Oedipus.
Character analysis is essential in analyzing stories and interpreting their messages as well as understanding the whole story. The paper has given an elaborate character analysis as they are depicted in the stories. Their character traits have been compared and contrasted. Besides, it was discovered that, these character traits can be of significance in the real world. That is, guiding individuals on how to go about their day to day activities.
In the first novel, we explore Genji’s life, which is marred with romance and infidelity, as well as jealousy. The second investigates Hamlet’s life as the avenger for his father’s death. On the other hand, the third, talks of power of oracles, which, according to the story, must be accomplished, while the last gives people the hope of finding another life after death and that there is power in believing and strong faith. Various lessons can be learnt from these stories, for instance, the Hamlet teaches that you can never get away with murder, however secret it is done, on the other hand, the New Testament gives hope for the living, and Oedipus’s story tell us that your Destiny is in your hands, if you mess, you face the consequences. Genji’s story gives as the culture in Japan, and the product of unstable relationships as can be seen in Genji’s frustrated life (Lawall et al. pp.3-67).
- Lawall, Sarah., Clinton, Jerome., Abiola, Francis., Heather, James., Owen, Stephen., Lee, Patterson., Viswanathan, Peterson and Thalman, William. The Norton Anthology of the world literature (2nd ed.). W.W. Norton & Company, 2009.
- Smith, Barry. The New Testament and its context. Crandall University 2008.
- Crystal, David and Ben, Crystal. The Shakespeare Miscellany. New York: Penguin, 2005.
- Mitchell-Boyask, Robin. Study of Sophocles’ Oedipus the King. Philadelphia. Temple University, 2002.
- Shikibu, Murasaki and Suematsu, Kencho. The Tale of Genji. Singapore. Tuttle Publishing, 2003.