What are some similarities between Life of Pi and Hamlet?

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mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Life of Pi and Hamlet have many similarities, even though on the surface they appear to be two completely different stories.  For example, both stories center around one main character, a male, and their personal struggle with survival in their worlds.  Pi has to survive on the lifeboat, and Hamlet has to survive at the castle, against what he feels are harsh odds.  Both of these characters struggle to make it and to maintain a sense of identity, even when they feel the entire world is against them.

Both Hamlet and Pi are religious people; Pi loves all religions, and Hamlet's religious beliefs often show themselves, especially as he ponders great moral dillemmas like murder and death.  The similarities are stronger if you believe the human version of Pi's account; his mother was brutally murdered, just as Hamlet's father was.  Pi had to reach deep within himself and bring out the fighter, and the barbarian that wanted to survive at all costs, in order to make it off the lifeboat alive.  Hamlet too, in order to exact revenge, had to tap into his fighting side, and resolve himself to the idea of killing another human being.  So both characters faced brutal odds, and fought back, hard, even if it meant doing something that they would have previously thought was barbaric.

Even though both characters are surrounded by others at different points in their stories, through the narrating style and soliloquys, we get a very detailed account of their own thoughts and struggles.  They both have enemies to fight against, moral quandaries to struggle with, and their own identity to maintain in difficult times.  I hope that those thoughts help to get you started; good luck!