Comparative Study

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    • #11953

      Hey :)

      I’m currently repeating my leaving certificate, and would love to get a better grade in my english. Unfortunately, as the english course changes every year, none of the studies i did for my comparative study last year are on the course.

      I was wondering what are the easiest comparatives to do so that i can get a good grade, and would anyone recommend a book that i could get with them comparatives in them?

    • #67081
      Jon Ryan

      Hi geriimc,

      I would recommend the following:

      1) Dancing at Lughnasa, Plough and the Stars, Oedipus the King – as they are all relatively short compared to some of the longer texts/ novels on the syllabus

      2) Inside I’m Dancing, Billy Eliot, The Constant Gardener – as these are relatively recent films which you either may have seen or will find interesting

      3) Hamlet – if you are not comfortable with doing Hamlet/ Shakespearean text as a single text it would be of worth to write about in a shorter and easier fashion in the comparative section, where you do not have to write about in as much detail, or write on The Tempest, which means you will not have to do a Shakespearean text for the single text section

      4) If you are looking for great texts, I would recommend Lies of Silence, Wuthering Height and Casablanca

      We have notes all texts on the syllabus so email us at if you want notes for whatever texts you choose – I have written notes for and you can see more of these notes on


    • #67082

      The comparison study

      The theme of betrayal

      Betrayal is a deep cardinal sin but as a sin it is part of the human condition to lie, cheat, steal and murder in the name of greed and want. In the next three studies we can see the causes and effects of 6 separate acts of betrayal from the streets of Kabul in the kite runner by Kaled Hosseini, the plains of Africa in the major motion picture the constant gardener directed by Fernando Meirelles and finally to rural 1950s Ireland where we read Sive written by John B Keene’s. These settings are all very different from one another but they share the theme of betrayal and it is this underlying theme that is key to the overall message of the three titles. This theme is woven into the fabric of the film, novel and play effortlessly. Throughout each piece of work we can see the similarities and the effects of betrayal on all the characters lives and how they each react to these acts individually. We will now explore the first act of betrayal within the film the constant gardener.

      The constant gardener is a movie of intense parallels. It encompasses massive social and cultural differences and really sets the scene of a world very much divided with the former imperial power on one side and the underdeveloped former colony on the other. This scene is set in Kenya where we see a major pharmaceutical company betray the African people. The company KDH is testing their newest drug “Dypraxa” on poor African people. The company is refusing to give them health care for HIV and AIDS unless the take the test for tuberculosis and take Dypraxa. Both Arnold and Tessa are immediately sceptical “drug companies never do anything for free”. The drug in fact has side effect that include death and leads to 69 unsuspecting Africans dying from taking the drug. The company KDH and the Kenya, British governments have betrayed the African people by allowing this to go on. Sandy sums up the argument conclusively “they built a large plant in whales and set up 2000 jobs they could have gone elsewhere, we owe them”. This wholesale murder is effectively done in the name of profit and is betraying innocent Africans who are simply looking for health care to stay alive. The director vividly shows how these companies are ruthless, lethal machines that will stop at nothing to get what they want. This aspect of a large company or group of people betraying another group of people directly parallels the kite runner, in terms of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan following the soviet invasion.

      In the book the kite runner, Afghanistan was originally ruled by a monarch but this was then toppled with the invasion of the soviet army in 1972. The invasion caused massive unrest and led to massive emigration and destruction. The invasion was followed by warring and the Taliban a group of Islamic extremists were hailed as being Afghans saviours. But soon the Taliban turned out to be as much as a menace to the Afghan people as the recently departed soviets. In the book they introduce a number of decrees “prohibitions against music, female exposure, shaving and kite flying”. Women’s rights were severely curtained and as such the afghan people were betrayed by the very men they had hailed as heroes. Hassan describes their actions against his wife in the letter to Amir “the other day I accompanied Farzanna Jan to the bazaar to buy some potatoes and naan. She asked the vendor how much the potatoes cost, but he did not hear her, I think he had a deaf ear. So she asked louder and suddenly a young Talib ran over and hit her in the thighs with a wooden stick. He struck her so hard she fell done. He was screaming and shouting that the ministry for vice and virtue does not allow women to speak loudly”. This attitude against women and against people themselves becomes a powerful part of the book. We can see the afghan people being betrayed as we can see the sadness in their speech especially Rahim khans. Who continually speaks about the constant lingering death that exists in Afghanistan since the coming of the Taliban. We can see this when Amir asks “is it as bad as they say?” “Nay it is much worse they don’t let you be human”. This sense of betrayal is felt all throughout the book.

      Betrayal is an action which can take place as a passing thing. One forgetful message or a slip of the tongue but in contrast the act of betrayal involving the united nations and Dr. Lorbeer is a good example of spur of the moment and being bound by rules that you may not agree with but also a slip of the tongue that effectively ends three lives. Justin goes out to visit Dr.Lorbeer in a small village in Sudan. When he arrives he sees the aid planes dropping supplies to the remote villagers. As Justin asks for answers to what happened to his wife we see the regress of humanity to primitive raiders on horses brandishing AK-47’s. They have come to steal the aid that has been dropped by the planes and take women and children as slaves. Lorbeer describes them as “lawless thugs who will kill anyone who gets in their way”. Quick camera shots and rapid sequences show the village being burned, men, women and children being gunned down by the armed men. Justin, Abuk and Lorbeer try to escape the burning village and reach the plane. The United Nations plane will only take aid workers and by doing this it will leave the other villagers to be shot, sold or raped. Justin offers the pilot $800 for Abuk a child of 5. But the pilot is bound by political red tape “there are thousands of them, the rules are made for good reasons “and Justin must leave without her. Lorbeer says “she might walk to a refugee camp if she is lucky”. This child has done no harm to anyone and by being abandoned by the very organisation that strives to help people it shows how deep the lines of betrayal go. This is a classic example of African pitted against African much like in the kite runner where the Taliban are murdering Afghanis. Justin then learns from Lorbeer that it was him who gave his wife up and thus led to her death. Lorbeer had signed Tessa’s death warrant, Tessa had put her faith in Lorbeer and he had betrayed her causing her and Arnold’s death. This scene catches the betrayal of a child who is innocent of the goings on of the adult world and it also catches the betrayal of Tessa who was murdered simply because she wanted to expose the truth behind KDH’s new drug Dypraxa. A good parallel to the young innocence of a child has to be the link with the kite runner and amirs deep betrayal of Hassan these two points flatter each other effortlessly.

      The innocence of childhood is a theme that runs through both the kite runner, the constant gardener and of course Sive. In the kite runner we see the innocence of childhood disappear in an act of obvious betrayal. This begins with the act of Amir against Hassan his half brother. Hassan’s loyalty to Amir has always been a main feature of the novel for example Amir coyly asks Hassan would he eat dirt if he asked him to, Hassan’s reply is simple but effective and conveying his unquestionable loyalty to Amir “ for you a thousand times over”. This loyalty is the key to the betrayal Amir commits against Hassan and it also demonstrates the power Amir holds over his half brother/ servant. When the kite flying competition arrives and Amir Knocks all his competitors out of the sky Hassan shows his loyalty to Amir “right now I am going to run that blue kite for you”. When Hassan retrieves the blue kite he is cornered by Assef and two other boys. Assef wants the blue kite from Hassan to right a previous incident between them. Hassan’s defiance leads to Hassan being raped by Assef. Amir who had followed Hassan looks down the alley way at his brother and does nothing to help. It is his reaction that is the greatest betrayal “I ran because I was a coward I was afraid of Assef and what he might do to me I was afraid of getting hurt”. Amir abandons Hassan and allows him to get raped by Assef. He does nothing to help and simply runs away. This act also gives emphasis to other pressing issues within the book. Amir also believes that Hassan knows that Amir saw him get raped and knows that he ran away. But Amir’s guilt grows so considerably that inevitably even being in Hassan’s presence is painful when all he truly wants to do is forget that he was a coward. ”id forgot what I had done and that was good”. This intense act of betrayal is the key stone in the foundation of the whole novel it is upon this act of betrayal that Amir will have to earn redemption.

      In the play Sive by John B Keanes we get a very obvious sense of inter family betrayal, a family betraying a young girl as in Sive or a father betraying his sons as we see in the kite runner. In Sive we can see how Mena cunningly manipulates mike into agreeing to the marriage of Sive to Sean Dolta. She persuades him by using her sexual charm to cajole Mike into approving the match. She also cannily convinces him by reminding him of the money they will receive, and how Sive will never have to worry financially. Mena herself has been swayed to the match by Tomasheen to master of human manipulation, by promising them 100 pounds and the guarantee that nana would go and live with Sive as part of the deal. Money is of significant importance to Mena highlighting the fact that she is willing to betray a young girl’s right to love the man she marries for the love of money. This example highlights the implications of inter family betrayal very effectively. Yet as we delve into the ramifications of this betrayal we are left with death as Sive commits suicide. This is very similar to the murder of both Justin and Tessa in the constant gardener and the murder of Hassan in the kite runner.

      The act of inter family betrayal is also very prevalent within the novel the kite runner. The second great betrayal is that shared by Amir, Hassan, Ali, Rahim khan and Baba. Amir was always well aware that Hassan was Ali’s son but on returning to Afghanistan he talks to Rahim Khan who goes on to inform him that Ali was in fact sterile “she left him childless after three years and married a man in Khost. She bore him three daughters. That’s what I’m trying to tell you”. This then begs the obvious question who in fact was Hassan’s father? In fact Hassan and Amir share the same father, Baba.” How had Ali lived in that house all those years knowing he had been dishonoured in the worst way an afghan man can be dishonoured.” Baba had slept with Sanauber who had then given birth to Hassan. This act is a very large component of the larger picture of the book. It in essence sums up Babas lies to both his sons leaving them both ignorant of the very blood flowing through their veins. Hassan and Amir were half brothers. They were not so different and all the cultural and class issues collapsed and amirs guilt is worsened as he not only abandons his servant to be raped by Assef he abandoned his own brother. This deception is one of the greatest betrays within the novel and it is easy to see why. It is a testament to the level of hurt and pain that has made the plot so thick and riveting. We now learn how Hassan’s unwavering loyalty has lead to Hassan’s death by the hands of the Taliban. But the truth of Hassan’s true parentage is kept from him and as such the great lie is never revealed to him. This level of deception and betrayal affects the novel in numerous ways most notably it sets the whole tone of the novel and gives all the characters a three dimensional feel.

      Within these key moments we can see very clearly the multiple acts of betrayal that litter the three pieces of work. We begin to understand the similarities between all three pieces of work and by understanding these we delve into the complexities of the human conditions from babas betrayal of amir and Hassan and amirs betrayal of hassan

      just a little bit of notes i put together to help anyone who needs them

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