How I Learned to Drive

by Paula Vogel

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In How I Learned to Drive, how is Shakespeare used in L'il Bit and her Grandfather's conversation?

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Shakespeare is used as a reference to education and learning. In the conversation that Li'l Bit has with her grandfather, it is clear that the grandfather acts as a patriarchal force in the play through his crude and unwholesome suggestions that Li'l Bit can use her sexuality to earn her way in life rather than her brains. Shakespeare is thus refered to as symbolising education and learning. Consider the following quote:

What does she need to go to college for? ... She's got all the credentials she needs on her chest... How is Shakespeare going to help her lie on her back in the dark?

The grandfather clearly is responsible for presenting a very limiting and restrictive view of gender where women are expected to use their sexuality in order to get ahead and earn a living. With this kind of world view or perspective, "Shakespeare," or education, has very little role or purpose.

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