Battered by a Raging Stormy

Johann Ramberg, “King Lear”

Wednesday

I’ve compared Donald Trump to King Lear in the past (see the links at the end of this post) so perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised that he has encountered a storm that he can’t control. Stormy Daniels, the adult film actress to whom he paid hush money just before the election, is outmaneuvering him and rendering him uncharacteristically silent. At least in public.

Reports are that he is storming privately, and in that way he is like Lear, whose raging in the face of the storm is witnessed only by those closest to him. Like Lear, Trump feels unmanned by assertive women (including Daniels), and like Lear his rage masks a desperate longing for love, which is denied him because he demands love on his own terms. Lear takes credit for the fury of the elements to persuade himself that his commands still count for something: “Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!” His fury, however, reveals his vulnerability and his loneliness.

Since I’ve embarked on storm images, I’ll borrow a couple from poems by women, Mary Oliver’s “Lightning” and Hilda Doolittle’s “Storm.” Oliver alludes to Lear’s howling at the end of the play, but she could also be referring to loneliness such as Trump’s:

 the wind rose, 
the shapeless mouth
opened and began
its five-hour howl; 
the lights 
went out fast, branches
sidled over
the pitch of the roof, bounced
into the year
that grew black
within minutes…

H.D., meanwhile, helps us imagine Daniels crashing over Trump, rending every leaf “like split wood.”

You crash over the trees,
you crack the live branch—
the branch is white,
the green crushed,
each leaf is rent like split wood.

You burden the trees
with black drops,
you swirl and crash—
you have broken off a weighted leaf
in the wind,
it is hurled out,
whirls up and sinks,
a green stone.

H.D., using the imagistic style for which she is famous, may be describing a depressive episode, and it is a state that Trump surely knows well. Perhaps he feels himself hurled out, whirled up, and sinking like a stone. While he characteristically blusters that he is in charge, the storm has him on the run this time.

One other thought: Given that I’ve compared Trump to Herman Melville’s Maldive shark, I find it fascinating that he insisted that Daniels watch a television documentary on shark attacks with him. Trump was reportedly both fascinated and repulsed. As a Jungian archetype, sharks (like lions and bears) represent the devouring unconscious. When we insist that we control the world and repress fears of inadequacy, our shadow turns malevolent and grows in power. “I hope all the sharks die,” Trump reportedly said to Daniels.

Previous posts comparing Trump to Lear

Assertive Women Drive Lear, Trump Mad

Trump’s Cabinet as Goneril and Regan

Lear, Trump, & the Hell of Loneliness

Trump as Lear Howling in the Storm

This entry was posted in Doolittle (Hilda), Oliver (Mary), Shakespeare (William) and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

  • AVAILABLE NOW!

  • Literature is as vital to our lives as food and shelter. Stories and poems help us work through the challenges we face, from everyday irritations to loneliness, heartache, and death. Literature is meant to mix it up with life. This website explores how it does so.

    Please feel free to e-mail me [rrbates (at) smcm (dot) edu]. I would be honored to hear your thoughts and questions about literature.

  • Sign up for weekly newsletter

    Your email will not be shared or sold.
    * = required field

    powered by MailChimp!
  • Twitter Authentication data is incomplete