William Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Paula Vogel’s How I learned to Drive plays explore the common theme of betrayal through the acts of the protagonist in the 2 literary works. The two plays thus demonstrate several similarities as they build on this theme. For instance, through Hamlet, Hamlet is portrayed as being betrayed by Claudius in whom he has trust. Similarly, How I learned to Drive’s Li’l Bit endures the betrayal of Uncle Peck whom she also trusts. Moreover, both Hamlet and Li’l Bit demonstrate that they are bright persons through their respective actions in the face of betrayal.
Another similarity is that both Li’l Bit’s and Hamlet’s families seem to be dysfunctional. The two plays however have a number of differences. For example, Hamlet belongs to royalty while Li’l Bit is a humble girl. In addition, while, Hamlet finally exacts revenge on his tormentor, Li’l Bit finally forgives her detractor. The environments of the 2 characters’ families are also different. While Li’l Bit’s family is surrounded by problems typical of common people, Hamlet’s family is plagued by problems that usually affect the high and mighty.
All in all, the 2 plays – Hamlet and How I learned to Drive demonstrate that their respective protagonists are betrayed by people they otherwise trust. To begin with, Hamlet suffers from Claudio’s (his uncle’s) malevolence when Claudius murders King Hamlet (Hamlet’s father) and later seeks to murder the young Hamlet himself. In normal circumstances, one’s uncle would not do the heinous act that Claudius does. Claudio’s commission of the offense is thus an outright betrayal of the trust that his nephew has towards the uncle. Hamlet’s doubts that Claudius really murdered King Hamlet testify to the nephew’s trust towards his uncle.
After his father’s spirit informs the young Hamlet that Claudius murdered King Hamlet, the young Hamlet is initially not sure of the authenticity of the message (Shakespeare and Edwards 69). To further build the theme of betrayal, after realizing that Hamlet is aware of his evil scheme, Claudius plots to have Hamlet murdered. Queen Gertrude, Hamlet’s widowed and remarried mother, cannot assist the son because she has married Claudius – the person who murdered her late husband. Hamlet’s household is thus rather dysfunctional, a factor that accentuates Hamlet’s pain of betrayal.
Hamlet is thus betrayed on two occasions by his uncle. Similarly, How I learned to Drive’s Li’l Bit is betrayed by Uncle Peck, a relative whom she trusts and feels close to. For instance, owing to the dysfunctional nature of her family, Li’l Bit does not enjoy the support of her family members. The only person who appears to offer the girl the necessary support and attention is Uncle Peck. The uncle teaches the girls how to drive. Li’l Bit is however disappointed when Uncle Peck’s niceness ultimately proves to be tinged with selfish desires.
For instance, the uncle molests Li’l Bit on several occasions. He therefore betrays the trust that the young niece has towards him. In addition, Aunt Mary – Uncle Peck’s husband, carries on the theme of betrayal when she refuses to come to the aid of Li’l Bit regarding her molestation ordeals by the uncle. Moreover, Li’l Bit’s mother refuses to confront Uncle Peck with regard to his unhealthy intimacy with Li’l Bit. The mother thus betrays her daughter regarding the daughter’s dashed hope that the mother will come to the daughter’s aid (Vogel 25).
Li’l Bit thus resembles Hamlet in that both come from somewhat dysfunctional families and are both betrayed by the people who should be their helpers. Moreover, both the Hamlet and the How I learned to Drive plays show that their respective protagonists are wise in their individual rights. Through such depictions of intelligence, the theme of betrayal continues to play out. For instance, Hamlet stages a drama performance that confirms that Claudius really murdered King Hamlet. This act demonstrates Hamlet’s extreme intelligence and also exposes Claudius’ act of betrayal.
Likewise, Li’l Bit demonstrates her wisdom by tactfully objecting to Uncle Peck’s indecent sexual advances. The girl does this and still manages to be friends with the uncle. Moreover, her firm refusal to engage in sexual liaisons with Uncle Peck discloses the uncle’s betrayal in seeking to have an incest-like relationship with his niece. In effect, Hamlet and Li’l Bit are portrayed as intelligent characters as they seek to contend with the betrayal which they experience. Conversely, Li’l Bit and Hamlet have several differences which serve to highlight the betrayal the two persons endure.
For example, while Hamlet is of a royal class, Li’l Bit has a humble background. The royalty in Hamlet’s family background partially make Claudius betray him. King Hamlet is murdered so as to pave way for Claudius to occupy the throne. On the other hand, Li’l Bit’s humble background partially contributes to her betrayal by Uncle Peck. This is because most of Li’l Bit’s family members are unreliable. The mother conceived during her teenage years, the father is sexist, while Uncle Peck – the molester, is an alcoholic.
This situation makes Li’l Bit become alienated and thus continue to silently suffer under Uncle Peck. Her continued suffering thus unearths her uncle’s act of betrayal. Moreover, Hamlet finally revenges on Claudius heinous act while Li’l Bit chooses to forgive Uncle Peck. The characters’ respective actions thus show that their relatives are betrayers who deserve either punishment of forgiveness. In conclusion, Vogel’s How I learned to Drive and Shakespeare’s Hamlet play explore the theme of someone being betrayed by someone they have always trusted.
In How I learned to Drive, Li’l Bit is betrayed by Uncle Peck, her mother, and her aunt, all whom she trusts. Conversely, Hamlet’s Hamlet is betrayed by his uncle – Claudius, and his mother – Queen Gertrude. The two plays however have several differences which however contribute to the theme of betrayal. Works Cited Shakespeare, William and Edwards, Philip. Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003. Vogel, Paula. How I learned to Drive. New York: Dramatists Play Service, 1998.
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