The Rooting Hog King (or President)

Richard [III], as Shakespeare conceived him, was inwardly tormented by insecurity and rage, the consequences of a miserable, unloved childhood and a twisted spine that made people recoil at the sight of him. Haunted by self-loathing and a sense of his own ugliness — he is repeatedly likened to a boar or rooting hog — he found refuge in a feeling of entitlement, blustering overconfidence, misogyny and a merciless penchant for bullying.

From this psychopathology, the play suggests, emerged the character’s weird, obsessive determination to reach a goal that looked impossibly far off, a position for which he had no reasonable expectation, no proper qualification and absolutely no aptitude.


The conventional wisdom says Donald Trump is motivated by a pathological narcissism. By drawing a comparison to Shakespeare's Richard III, Stephen Greenblatt opens up a different way of seeing Trump, one that seems germane after the Access Hollywood tape revelations. The live mic caught Trump trying to impress an insignificant toady in the celebrity-fawning industry. Somewhere deep inside Trump there's a "bunchback'd toad," the "loathed issue of thy father's loins." Could this soliloquy be lurking inside?

There is no creature loves me,
And if I die no soul will pity me.
And wherefore should they, since that I myself
Find in myself no pity to myself?


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