Alas Dear Yorick!
As you can see in my picture above, I’m running the risk of receiving a sharply worded cease and desist letter from an SNL attorney this week, but I couldn’t resist. Never has an image been such a perfect representation of a writing blog post.
This week, I was inspired by a fantastic interview I found at The American Prospect. In it Robert Kuttner and Allyn Burrows, the artistic director of Shakespeare and Company, a New England Shakespearean Festival, explore the similarities between the current Trump drama being played out before our eyes and the epic writings of the Bard himself.
Now, being the literature geek I am, and being especially enamored with Shakespeare, and also…how do I put this tactfully? …… Slightly less than enamored with Trump, (Oh, who am I kidding? I wrote a dystopian short story called Trumptopia [get it here only 99 cents!] for goodness sake), I felt I just had to discuss!
If Trump were to read the above mentioned interview, I think he would be extremely disappointed, primarily because Mr. Burrows does not see him as a devilishly cunning Richard III, or Iago figure. Rather, Burrows believes, if Shakespeare were portraying a Trump-like king, the character would be a clown, and that Trump is not complex enough to be a Shakespearean protagonist. Imagine what a blow to the ego that would be for Mr. President!
When looking at the power behind the throne, Burrows casts Steve Bannon not as Lady Macbeth, manipulating Trump for his own nefarious reasons, but rather as Romeo to Trump’s Juliet, whereby Trump is a perfect vessel into which Bannon can pour his ideas. Knowing he’s playing the girl would also likely dent #45’s fragile self-worth.
As Kuttner points out, Shakespeare revisits the theme of powerful people losing things they hold most dear because of obsession, paranoia, jealousy and hubris numerous times in his work, and he suggests that Trump could well suffer the same fate as the likes of Leontes (The Winter’s Tale), Othello, Lear (King Lear), Montague & Capulet (Romeo and Juliet), and Shylock (Merchant of Venice) as well as others Shakespeare twisted the knife around well after stabbing them.
Of course, whether our new president gets his comeuppance remains to be seen. That’s the beauty of Shakespeare’s work. Perhaps we are watching a comedy, perhaps a tragedy. That remains to be seen; but we should remember, as the Bard wrote in As You Like It, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” Maybe we have a bit part without any lines, or maybe we make a splashy entrance by and bursting on stage shouting to our government representatives – including those in the White House – that they need to listen to the vox populi, because we are not merely the audience, in spite of what we are told to the contrary.
What do you think of our current political climate? Is it Shakespearean? Which of the Bard’s characters do you envisage strolling the corridors of the White House? Post below and let’s discuss!
(In homage to the the golden boy himself (Oscar, not Trump), next week I’m going to share some of my favorite movie adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays. If you’ve never ventured past the compulsory high school class that made your eyes glaze over, try revisiting them through the magic of the movies. Some of them are edge of your seat nail biters, I promise!)