Did Shakespeare predict the future of US politics?

Short answer, yes.

“And in the end meet the old course of death, women will all turn monsters”


In King Lear, Shakespeare illustrates the idea that women in power are crazy – they won’t be able to control their emotions when making important decisions. When Goneril and Regan obtain power from Lear, they’re actions are portrayed as monstrous and they’re characterized as, “Unnatural hags” (II.iv.319) who seek to destroy the kingdom. In Act 3, when Regan kills the First Servant, she’s called a “villain” and a “naughty lady”, to reinforce that women showing this kind of assertiveness is dangerous to the men in power. 

The way Shakespeare portrayed women in King Lear was foreseeable to the future US political climate. Throughout the past 20 years, when women have stepped out of their “natural” roles, they’re depicted as dangerous, mad women. For example, Hillary Clinton was called ‘Crooked Hillary’ by Trump in hopes to portray her as a danger to society for her past. Similarly, AOC has been heavily criticized for her actions in the House of Representatives. People have called her “crazy” for doing the same things that a man in the House of Representatives would get applauded for.

Anita Hill was seen as a barrier to Justice Clarence Thomas’ trial to becoming approved by the Senate. People thought it was ploy to try to get Thomas rejected.

The political landscape of the US is very similar to the one in King Lear. When women reject the power structure put in place by society, they’re criticized. Also, one of the most important things in King Lear and to those in politics is power. When power is lost, chaos breaks loose in an attempt for someone else to regain it. If a women seeks this power, they are seen as a threat to a man’s power. Even during the 1600s, when King Lear was written, this was the societal norm, which is still very evident in US politics today.

How a Mirrorball Can Change Your Life:

You can dislike Taylor Swift, but you can’t dismiss the brilliance that goes into some of her pieces.

As a part of her eighth studio album, Folklore, Swift’s Mirrorball takes on multiple different meanings but ultimately speaks to the societal pressure people face to always have to be perfect.

A mirrorball as a physical object is a shining sphere that is held high on the ceiling for people to look at. Its purpose is to reflect light, glisten, and entertain those surrounding it.

In her extended metaphor, Swift says,

“I’m a mirrorball. I’ll show you every version of myself tonight.”

Society holds people to such a high standard that they feel pressure to always have to be on top of their game, whether that’s through a job or a relationship. In the spotlight, everyone knows everything about someone and judges them. A mirrorball is broken into a million pieces, but that’s what makes them shine. It has all eyes watching it. When the light comes off it, it is still on the ceiling doing its job, even when no one is watching.

“Hush, when no one is around, my dear. You’ll find me on my highest heels love, shining just for you,” 

This is also representative of a celebrity feeling the pressure of the public’s eye and their expectations. When they break down, all eyes will be watching them. But when no one is watching, they’re still expected to be perfect.

A mirrorball is fragile, much like a person. Through her extended metaphor, I think Swift is shining light on how much the spotlight/pressure can break someone down. Even if they’re doing everything they can, it’s never good enough.

“spinnin in my highest heels.”

“I can change everything about me to fit in.”

This song resonates with me because I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself to do well. I don’t know if it’s because of playing competitive soccer for most of my life, but I am able to connect with the way Swift talks about pressure , internally and externally.

The exact moment Meursault finds happiness.

“And I felt ready to live it all again too. As if that blind rage had washed me clean, rid me of hope; for the first time, in that night alive with signs and stars, I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world. Finding it so much like myself — so like a brother really — I felt that I had been happy and that I was happy again” (122).

In Albert Camus’ The Stranger, the main character, Meursault rejects the traditional societal structures that many people value. For example, he doesn’t want to marry his girlfriend, Marie, he doesn’t cry at his mother’s funeral, and he doesn’t believe in God. Meursault believes these relationships create false hope for people that death isn’t certain. People don’t want to face the meaninglessness of death and death itself, so they grasp onto these societal structures to escape it.

In the last chapter of the novel, Meursault rises above these societal structures and realizes the indifference of the world. After waiting in his prison cell, hoping for the appeal to his eviction to come back positively, Meursault finally grasps the certainty and reality of death. “Everybody was privileged. There were only privileged people. The others would all be condemned one day. And he would be condemned too” (121). No matter what anyone did in their lives, they were all elected to the same fate. During their lives, people are never satisfied because they always try to reach greater success.

Through Meursault, Albert Camus argues that one isn’t truly happy until they face the certainty of their death. They can live their lives with meaning once they accept their inevitable fate. In The Stranger, once Meursault accepts his appeal will never come back positive, he spends every waking hour appreciating his last days. The guards were going to take him away to be exiled at night, so he takes peace when dawn comes around knowing that he will live another day.

Once Meursault accepts death, he finds happiness.

Did the Elephant really Vanish? A response to “The Elephant Vanishes” by Haruki Murakami

“That’s probably because people are looking for a kind of unity in this kit-chin we know as the world. Unity of design. Unity of color. Unity of function” (327).

In “The Elephant Vanishes” Haruki Murakami illustrates a contrast between unity and disorder. In his little town in Tokyo, the community members seem to be in constant disagreement. First, it was a disagreement about if the old elephant should even be kept. Then, it was a disagreement about where the elephant should be kept. Finally, once the elephant “vanished”, some townspeople blamed the Mayor, “As they had the year before, the opposition-party members of the town council made accusations” (316). Evidently, this town is constantly split into opposition with each other, maybe even on some accounts, they are polarized. Therefore the elephant “vanishing” may be a sign of the town’s inability to compromise, leaving them with an even larger problem.

Murakami takes such a deep interest in this elephant vanishing because he can see the unity between the elephant and keeper that isn’t evident in the town. Additionally, the unity that isn’t present in his own life. Although he seems to be a very structured person – having the same morning routine every day and reading the newspaper in chronological order – he uses these things that he can control to be structured. He admires the elephant and keeper’s relationship, “I had the feeling that to some extent the difference between them had shrunk” (325).

Ultimately, the question appears to be, did the elephant actually vanish or was this an alternate reality that the narrator wanted from his own life? It’s hard to tell from just the writing in the story because it never clearly states what actually happened to the elephant. I believe based on the evidence presented above, that the narrator saw the “elephant and the keeper become balanced” to signify something he deeply longed for in his life. Whether or not the elephant vanished, he saw something in their relationship that made him long for the same thing: unity and recognition of both sides. I think the narrator wanted his town to recognize where others were coming from and open up to the possibility of compromise.

How much do parents influence their children? George Saunder’s “Victory Lap” gives a possible explanation.

In many instances, children gain their beliefs, values, and their ways of living from their parents. This is inevitable, socialization plays a key role in how children act and shape their identity. George Saunders’ “Victory Lap” illustrates three different characters whose parental influence shaped their actions when faced with conflict. Saunders writes in the third person from inside the character’s minds.

Allison is fun-loving, positive, and sweet. She loves her life and her parents. They have created a supportive environment in which she can see her own value. After her incident involving Kyle and the stranger, Allison’s parents reassured her that she did the right thing. They said, “You did so good” and “Did beautiful”. It’s interesting to see how impactful parent-child dynamics can be. Her positive outlook comes from her parent’s constant support and kindness.

On the other hand, Saunders portrays Kyle’s parents as overbearing and strict. Since Kyle is their only child, they justify their actions by saying, “I know sometimes we strike you as strict but you are literally all we have.” In his every action, Kyle constantly thinks about what his parents have taught him to do and if his actions will be approved by his parents. Although the ending is unclear, Kyle may have gone so far as to “blow up” from his parent’s constant control over him.

Finally, Saunders gives his readers a glimpse from the stranger’s point of view. Even after 15 years of his stepfather, Melvin being dead, he still has a major influence on him. “Melvin appeared in his mind. On Melvin’s face was the hot look of disappointment that had always preceded an ass whooping, which had always preceded the other thing. Put up your hands, defend yourself.” This clues the reader into the reasoning why the stranger did what he did to Allison. To me, violence is probably the only thing the stranger knows: his way of life. He’s doing this to girls because he feels he has something to prove to his father: he’s not a disappointment.