Comparative Essay

Essay by madyamsHigh School, 11th grade October 2014

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Spencer Beaudry

IB English 1A

January 15, 2014

The Downfall of Life in Hamlet and The Grapes of Wrath

The emptiness of the red country fills doubt in many; a false king whom rules on a throne of lies brings the downfall of many once trusted. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck is an iconic American novel and Hamlet written by William Shakespeare is a well-known tragedy. The Grapes of Wrath illustrates the typical family hardships during America's great depression in the perspective of the Joad family. The main character, Tom Joad, is recently released from prison for homicide only to find that his family is leaving for California in search for jobs and a new home. The family travels westward dealing with the hardships the great depression had brought onto many families during the time period. Hamlet demonstrates the true potential of revenge that lies in the main character, Prince Hamlet, troubled by the recently learned fact that his uncle Claudius had killed Hamlet's father.

Hamlet then swears to his father's ghost that vengeance will be brought down onto Claudius. However, Hamlet becomes mad in the process ultimately leading to the downfall of Prince Hamlet. The theme of life and death is prominent in both works.

Firstly, Steinbeck and Shakespeare use archetypes to portray the theme of life and death. For instance, Steinbeck writes, "In the gray sky a red sun appeared, a dim red circle that gave a little light, like dusk; and as that day advanced, the dusk slipped back toward darkness, and the wind cried and whimpered over the fallen corn" (Steinbeck 5). The "red sun" symbolizes the people's hope and livelihood disappearing into "darkness" effectively foreshadowing the death of the people and their hope. Furthermore, Steinbeck uses personification to continue the theme of death...