Liberals Love Book Drawing Parallels Between Shakespeare’s Tyrants And Trump

Posted on Mon 06/04/2018 by

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By P.J. Gladnick ~

Remember all the comparisons between Donald Trump and Hitler? Well, that already got old about a year ago. The latest shtick among those unable to deal with the 2016 election results is to compare Trump to William Shakespeare’s tyrants in his plays.

The author introducing this latest example of Trump Derangement Syndrome is Stephen Greenblatt who wrote a book of such comparisons called Tyrant. In the Los Angeles Times, reviewer Charles McNulty knows this book’s audience:

Written in lucid prose, Tyrant is New Historicism pitched to the college-educated, politically engaged non-specialist, the kind of reader who has an eye on Twitter and an ear cocked to MSNBC (and perhaps for those in Los Angeles, tickets to see Tom Hanks in Henry IV). The book is valuable less for what it has to say about Shakespeare’s plays than for how it applies the wisdom it has acquired through careful study of these works to the crisis roiling American democracy. [i.e. Trump]

Greenblatt is not exactly subtle in this effort since even a book review by Constance Grady on the liberal website Vox called such comparisons “clumsy.”

An examination of Shakespeare’s tyrants from Richard III to Macbeth, it delves into the rhetoric of tyrants and the systems that enable them and does everything possible to point in Trump’s direction without ever quite mentioning his name.

With all the subtlety of a sledgehammer.

Some of Greenblatt’s parallels can be so pointed as to be clumsy. Jack Cade — the populist mob leader of Henry VI, Part 2, whose speech prompts the famous line, “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers!” — is a man who “promises to make England great again,” Greenblatt writes. (Do you get it?)

Yeah, yeah. I get it. Now can I also forget it?

Writing on Coriolanus, the Roman general who is the protagonist of one of Shakespeare’s last plays and who fatefully abandon Rome to fight with the Volscians, Greenblatt says, “It is as if the leader of a political party long identified with hatred of Russia — forever saber-rattling and accusing the rival politicians of treason — should secretly make his way to Moscow and offer his services to the Kremlin.” (No, seriously, do you get it?)

Yeah, I get it. But like the previous example I am trying to forget it.

A few years ago, popular criticism focused trendily and myopically on the pleasure of watching tyrants at work; we could all take it as read, the thinking generally went, that tyrants are bad. What seemed more interesting was to talk about how witty and clever and existential they were. But in the era of Trump, such a reading becomes borderline impossible. It’s an impossibility I’ve experienced myself.

Mark down the Vox reviewer as being as afflicted with TDS as the Tyrant author.

Different times pull different meanings out of the plays, so that whenever we read or write about or perform one of Shakespeare’s plays, we’re always on some level talking about our own time. And what Tyrant reminds us is that our current time is one of mounting terror at what’s happening in the highest seats of government.

P.J. Gladnick is a contributor at NewsBusters and is a freelance writer and creator of the DUmmie FUnnies blog.

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