Donald Trump: Shakespeare’s Lord of Misrule

  • Yu Jin Ko


The so-called New Historicism in literary studies began with a disconcerting insight borrowed from Foucault that was applied to Shakespeare’s history plays: namely, that subversive opposition has a way of reinforcing Power. The plays seem to invite subversive skepticism by highlighting the fraudulence and Machiavellian calculation behind the workings of Power. And yet, somehow, as Henry V leads his outnumbered troops in battle against the French, audiences and readers invariably get swept away by nationalistic passions (“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers”). My essay explores how the history plays illuminate the phenomenon of Donald Trump, whose improbable rise has been so crucially fueled by relentless subversive opposition. The essay looks in particular at how Trump combines the Machiavellian cunning of Prince Hal with the shameless but subversive egomania and excess of Falstaff to become a Lord of Misrule that feeds on opposition.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yu Jin Ko
    • 1
  1. 1.Wellesley CollegeWellesleyUSA

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