Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Shakespearean Tragedy unfolding. Story at eleven.


"I had rather be any kind o'thing than a fool,
yet I would not be thee, nuncle;
I am a fool, thou art nothing." (I. iv.)

When I was in middle school, my mother was a high school English teacher. Each year she took her classes to a play and took me - the only one of her children receptive to her culture-vulture tastes - along with them. The year I was eleven, the play was King Lear and I went to see it seven times. I remember watching it each time with queasy fascination as, over the course of the play, the old king dismantled and destroyed his life. It's the same way I feel now when I watch John McCain on TV.

When John McCain ran for president in 2000 I actually liked him. It's hard to believe now, but those were the days before the straight-talk express had veered off the road entirely. Even though I disagreed with a lot of his policies, he seemed candid and (for a politician) reasonable. So to see him now, using not only the same hateful techniques that were once used against him, but also hiring the very people who whispered and lied about him then, is both repellant and pitiful.

Lear is manipulated by his own vanity and desires into rejecting those around him who speak the truth (think Colin Powell), while those around him who want power betray each other and him and leave him to wander alone in the wastes (think of poor McCain wandering on that stage in the second debate). In the end, all Lear's children are dead and he has lost everything.

I won't belabor the similarities, but if all goes as I hope it will on election day, a once good (enough) man will have betrayed his own principles, his own experience, his own reputation, to no end but his own destruction. It's foolish of me to hope that he will realize his folly before it's completely over. But I do. And he won't.

11 comments:

sageweb said...

Very well said. Only 14 more days..and I am more nervous than ever. I am afraid McCain is going to spit more fury and scare the middle and some swing states.

yellowdog granny said...

i thought john mccain when he ran the first time was a good guy too..but then seeing how easily he turned..im beginning to think this is the real john and the other was a sham...

Sparkleneely said...

I am sick about the whole thing... Lear is a perfect analogy.

On a different note, have you heard of fieldreport.com? Elizabeth, it was made for you. Please check it out and submit...
xoxo

Will said...

The guy from fivethirtyeight.com (who is also the genius behind Baseball-Prospectus' PECOTA forecasting system) was speculating that with Obama opening up larger leads in various polls, McCain's little 'rise' last week was a phenomenon called 'Dead Cat Bounce'. You don't have to wiki that one to figure it out! 1-20-09 couldn't seem closer.

Miss Janey said...

Excellent analogy, Miss Elizabeth! Miss J has thought the same thing but not nearly so eloquently.

jason said...

Ah yes...sad.
And he's certainly got himself Fool in Act 1.

mrpeenee said...

It is an insightful analogy, isn't it? That's what I like about Elizabeth.

Elizabeth said...

Thanks all! It is tragic, but meanwhile I'm glorying in each new humiliation for him and his fool. $150,000 at Saks and Neiman Marcus! What were they thinking?

Sparkleneely - I just checked it out and it looks really good! Thanks for the heads up.

Will - "Dead Cat bounce!" Yeah, I do hope McCain is a dead cat!

contempocasual13 said...

This is an excellent analogy. I have read the play as well and agree 100%. Like you I originally liked McCain but, the more he campaigns the less I like him. I only hope the whoever does get into office does something for the better of the country and not for the better of their friends.

a thousand shades of twilight said...

yes, well put (as usual!).I'm still stuck on the fact that 11 year old you saw Lear seven times -that's fantastic! Were you a grave and melancholy child?

Elizabeth said...

contempocasual - Thanks for stopping by and for your comment! Fingers and toes and everything else crossed that Obama will win and that he will be the leader we need to guide us out of the many crises facing us.

1000 shades - I know! Lear seven times! It's such a grisly play - with people's eyes being gouged out and young daughters getting murdered. But I enjoyed it (remember, I grew up hardened by evil older brothers).

I wasn't a grave and melancholy child. I was a silly, dreamy, dramatic, and occasionally melancholy child. In other words, I haven't changed much. I was also a complete aesthete - whether born or made, I don't know. But I also remember my mother reading me A Midsummer Night's Dream when I was eight.