King Lear’s Similarities to Donald Trump

The Tragedy of King Lear, written by Shakespeare, was first performed over 400 years ago on December 26, 1606. Since then, people all around the world have enjoyed the plot through books, movies, and of course, more plays. The play tells the story of a King (Lear) who divides his kingdom between his daughters based on superficial expressions of love. As the play progresses, Lear descends into madness as his entire world is turned upside down.

Not only were the themes explored in King Lear relevant to Shakespeare’s time, but they also translate to unique parallels in US politics. The play serves as a cautionary tale of the dangers of ego, flattery, and unchecked power. In particular, this post will be detailing some of the similarities between Donald Trump and King Lear.

Certain traits in Lear’s personality echo those of Trump. In the opening scene of the play, Lear can be characterized as someone obsessed with flattery. He first uses flattery to distribute land to his daughters. This mistake is what changes the trajectory of the story and builds the initial plotline.

“Which of you shall we say doth love us most, That we our largest bounty may extend”

(Lear, 1.1.56)

Similarly, Trump sought power and recognition throughout his political career. Trump was known for his desire for flattery and his tendency to make decisions fueled by his ego, rather than what was best for the American people. He often paid more attention to his reputation and what people would think about him than taking meaningful action that would serve the American people.

An example of this can be seen when Trump invited his White House employees to praise him during a cabinet meeting. He listened intently as secretaries swooned over him. A link to the event can be found below:

Much like Lear dividing up his kingdom, Trump uses superficial methods to stroke his ego. The effects of these can make it extremely hard to decipher integrity from lies. By creating an environment that promotes words over actions, people become focused on pleasing others over serving their constituents. This toxicity is one of the reasons why the messages within King Lear are more important than ever in todays day and age.

Another theme explored the play is excessive pride. As a King, Lear believes that he is superior and more powerful than everyone else. Although this works for him at the very beginning, after distributing his power away, people start to question his true authority. Lear, not used to this, stays overconfident, stating,

“I will do such things– What they are yet I know not– but they shall be The terror of the earth.”

(1.4.x)

This quote showcases Lear’s excessive pride and superiority complex. His willingness to take drastic action ultimately leads to his downfall. Similarly, Trump’s excessive pride caused him to take extreme actions. These actions eventually lead to a low approval rating and impeachment trials.

Overall, King Lear’s character archetype has a lot in common with Donald Trump. In conclusion, we still have a lot to learn from a 400-year-old play,

3 thoughts on “King Lear’s Similarities to Donald Trump

  1. Owen S

    I find some of the comparisons interesting that you made. It is cool how you found examples of Trump wanting praise which is similar to Lear. I also like and agree with the message that you said of what of how we have to watch out for our humility and be careful of what we do with power.

    Like

  2. Isaac K.

    I found this take on King Lear very interesting. I also noticed several similarities between Lear and Trump while reading the play. The video you linked reflects the first scene in the play very well.

    Like

  3. SOPHIA P

    This is a very interesting comparison. The examples of specific similarities between Lear and Trump gave me a new perspective on the book. It’s cool how such an old play can connect to modern politics.

    Like

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