MTI’s Masterpiece Literature Presents: The Pursuit of Happyness

by Hunter Althiser

In The Pursuit of Happyness, a father (Chris Gardner) has invested his entire life savings into bone density scanners, a minor upgrade to the standard x-rays most offices have, and plans on selling them to make an easy profit. While he has sold a lot of them, he is having trouble selling the last few, and with his current debt crippling him, his wife (Linda Gardner) ends up leaving him and moving to New York, saying that he isn’t responsible. Chris has to not only care for his son (Chris Gardner Jr.) but also find a job to survive.

Throughout his conquest, he meets Jay Twistle, a manager for Dean Witter Reynolds, in a taxi and impresses him by solving a Rubik’s cube while on the taxi ride. Later he applies for an internship with Jay, but the day before the interview he gets taken in for parking tickets while painting the walls of his apartment and when it’s time for his interview, he comes in with his shabby clothes. Even with this discouragement, he still lands the internship by impressing the interviewers.

After starting the internship, the IRS garnishes his bank account due to unpaid income taxes, causing him to become homeless with his son. They live in various places, mainly the homeless shelter and train station, all the while Chris continues to pursue the internship, impressing his bosses and even lending them money he can’t afford to give away. When the final day of the internship arrives, Chris wears a new shirt, saying that he thought he would dress up for the last day working for the company. The employers tell him to wear it tomorrow when he comes in, saying he has landed the job. Chris bursts into tears, thankful for the employment, and years down the road after working for the company he leaves and opens his own multimillion dollar brokerage firm.


Throughout the story, Chris Gardner has to overcome challenges to become successful. When comparing this to Hamlet, they are somewhat similar, as Hamlet too has to overcome difficulties in order to succeed in taking revenge for his father. While Hamlet needs to guarantee that the visions of his father are truthful, and that the current king is guilty of the murder of his father, they both overcome challenges they couldn’t have foreseen. Chris has to endure being evicted and living on the street, while Hamlet has to overcome his friends spying on him.

Chris Gardner doesn’t begin his journey as a high-powered figure, he is actually the opposite, he begins at the bottom, steadily working his way up to his fortune. Hamlet on the other hand, is born into fortune and never has to worry about it, his problems are to seek revenge for his father in secret. Both men have different problems, but they overcome them in similar ways. Hamlet and Chris both show determination to complete their end goals.

While most of the story revolves around Chris Gardner and his son, many minor characters help him out throughout his journey. Jay Twistle, for example, gives Chris an internship in his business, eventually leading to a job that Chris later turns into a multimillion dollar company. The antagonist in this story is loosely himself, as he was the one who had bought the machines, and he is the one in search of a job while having to take care of his child without the help of his wife. The wife could also be seen as an antagonist, because she leaves him all by himself, with a son to take care of and the machines to sell.


While there are few poetic qualities in Pursuit of Happyness there are many interesting dialogues, mainly with Chris Gardner and his son. Most of these dialogues are life quotes that he tells his son, to help inspire his son even though they are in tough times. While in Hamlet the whole play is written as a poem, sneaking in riddles and making the reader think about what was just said. There aren’t a lot of parallels between the way both are written, but they were both written to be performed, whether it be on a stage as a play or re-watched on a TV screen.

Hamlet has been read by many generations, and for good reason. Not only is it an interesting story, not only does it possess impressive literary skills, but it also challenges the reader. Since it is written in older English, a reader must think about what is being said, as words may have multiple meanings. It’s remembered and cherished among a select few, but should be studied by all, as it shows literary skills that are not common in society today. Pursuit of Happyness, while not as cherished as Shakespeare, is still a memorable film recognized by almost anyone.  Everyone has had a bad time in their life, and everyone can relate to improving themselves for the better, and overcoming obstacles. Even in the olden times of Shakespeare, people could have related to an “underdog” story.


3 thoughts on “MTI’s Masterpiece Literature Presents: The Pursuit of Happyness

  1. This movie seems inspirational. Chris starts at the bottom of the chain and through his actions he works his ways up. This is nice because it shows how the real world works. Typically you don’t walk into a job as a manager, you start off at the bottom of the industry.


  2. this movie seems very heart worming. I do see the similarity between the pursuit of happiness and Hamlet. I like how you made Chris Gardner to be a hero, most might see him as a hopeless man who failed to take care of his child. you make me see though Chris’s eyes and see the positive side to life.


  3. The comparison between Hamlet and The Pursuit of Happyness was perfect, I like how you were able to find something similar between those two stories, which is how they are seeking for something that will change their lives. Pursuit of Happynes shows that everything is possible in this life if you don’t give up and follow your dreams no matter what you’re going through.


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