Compare and Contrast Essay about Two Dramas "Hamlet" and "How I learned to Drive" - Literature Essay Example

Running head: Compare and Contrast Essay about Two Dramas “Hamlet” and “How I learned to Drive”

            Through his 1997 How I learned to Drive play, playwright Paula Vogel explores issues such as betrayal, revenge, and manipulation - Compare and Contrast Essay about Two Dramas "Hamlet" and "How I learned to Drive" introduction. Such concepts play out via the actions of the plays protagonists, namely, Uncle Peck and Li’l Bit. Similarly, Shakespeare’s Hamlet play dwells on the concepts of revenge, manipulation, and betrayal. The actions of the play’s main character – Hamlet, assist in demonstrating these issues. The two plays are however different regarding a number of significant elements. For instance, while the revenge in Hamlet is carried on to fruition, How I learned to Drive’s revenge is put off. Moreover, the manipulation and betrayal found in Hamlet consists of violent murder. Conversely, in How I learned to Drive, the issue of violence and murder does not play out. In effect, the 2 plays elaborate the issue of someone being betrayed by someone they have always trusted and the betrayed parties’ attempts at revenge.


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            For example, Hamlet, the protagonist in the Hamlet play, is disappointed when he learns that Claudius – Hamlet’s uncle, has betrayed the nephew by murdering Hamlet’s father.  This deep sense of betrayal makes Hamlet to have serious reservations regarding the authenticity of the message that Claudius killed his (Claudius’) own brother.  For example, Hamlet says ‘To be, or not to be,’ thus indicating his indecision (Shakespeare 93). The concept of betrayal thus plays out.

            Similarly, in the How I learned to Drive play, Li’l Bit is frustrated by Uncle Peck’s action of molesting the niece although the uncle is the only person whom Li’l Bit has close ties with. The niece’s sense of betrayal makes her very disturbed because she does not expect the trusted Uncle Peck to do such a thing to her. She thus terms Uncle Peck’s as illustrating a masculine ‘get it now’ attitude (Vogel 26). The uncle’s incestuous inclinations thus develop the theme of betrayal.

            On the other hand, the Hamlet play shows that Claudius seeks to manipulate and control Hamlet. For example, Claudius banishes Hamlet from Denmark when Hamlet accidentally kills Polonius. Moreover, Claudius manipulates Laertes by lying to Laertes that Hamlet maliciously caused Ophelia’s and Polonius’ deaths. The infuriated Laertes thus supports Claudius’ evil scheme of making Hamlet duel with Laertes whereby Hamlet is to be killed. This manipulation eventually causes the deaths of Hamlet, Laertes, Claudius, and Queen Gertrude.  Shakespeare thus aptly explores the concept of control and manipulation.

            Likewise, the How I learned to Drive play dwells on the theme of control and manipulation especially through Uncle Peck’s schemes against Li’l Bit. As an illustration, as he seeks to gain the trust of his niece, Uncle Peck pretends to be a very good person who is sincerely concerned about the welfare of the niece. For example, he takes Li’l Bit through driving lessons. Afterwards, it however turns out that Uncle Peck’s alleged interest in Li’l Bit’s welfare is only made-up. Rather, the uncle seeks to have illicit sexual liaisons with the niece. Vogel thus depicts Uncle Peck as an expert in manipulation and control.

            Shakespeare’s play however varies from Vogel’s work because the oppressed parties have varied opinions about the concept of revenge. On the one hand, Hamlet seeks and finally manages to exact physical revenge on Claudius by killing him. Conversely, Li’l Bit finally changes her views regarding her revenging on Uncle Peck, instead choosing to forgive her former tormentor. She regards the driving lessons that Uncle Peck gave her as enough to warrant her forgiving him.

            In conclusion, the revenge, control, manipulation, and betrayal found in Hamlet as well as the How I learned to Drive plays depicts that the protagonists are frustrated. Such frustration however makes the tormented parties have varies opinions of revenge.

Works Cited

Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. New York: С. Лов, сон, анд ко., 1860

Vogel, Paula. How I learned to Drive. New York: Dramatists Play Service, 1998.


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