How can you compare Hamlet to an automobile?

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jseligmann | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted on

Funny question, but what the heck:

If Hamlet (the character and not the play itself) were a car, he would be a red Ferrari GT250. Now, we're not talking just any red Ferrari GT250, but the one in the movie "Ferris Bueller's Day Off."

In the movie, Ferris Bueller plays hooky from school and wants to borrow his good friend's fathers's Ferrari for a day of surreptitious fun. The good friend, Cameron, is horrified by the idea. Why? Well, the car his father prizes so highly is a showpiece with a room all its own, and it is rarely, if ever, driven. At first, of course, Cameron refuses Ferris's pleas outright, but he finally relents. Ah, yes...

That car is Hamlet. It's beautiful, elegant, intelligently designed, the quintessence of dust and driveability, yet it amounts to nothing. It never goes anywhere. Like Hamlet, the car is full of potential and yet it can do nothing but be admired. And the longer it sits in its own space doing nothing, the longer other people (namely Ferris) have to plan uses for it... just the way Claudius had plenty of time to plan Hamlet's demise. And plan he does... just as Ferris gets to take the Ferrari for joy ride.

Later, when the marvelous machine is returned to its showplace, a futile and ultimately fatal attempt is made to undo the wrong done to it (the miles that have been added to the odometer). Ferris jacks the vehicle up and puts it in reverse... as if that could undo the wrong. But all is to no avail, for the red 1961 Ferrari GT250 California that sat so long unattended and undriven, falls off the jack and, like poor Hamlet, crashes backwards to utter ruin.

ps. One more telling similarity, if you please: As the play begins, and all the way through to the tragic end, Hamlet is back home to attend the wedding of Claudius to his mother, Queen Gertrude. He has taken this time off from the school he attends in Wittenberg. Which just goes to show you the trouble one can get into from playing hooky.

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