This brilliant cartoon by Matin Rowson at The Guardian got me thinking of how Boris Johnson can bring to mind Shakespeare in all his glory.
The golden-haired mayor of London never ceases to show his credentials as a Shakespearean character – unfortunately never one of the more noble ones. With the high living style the privileged enjoy, even in lean times, he becomes increasingly like Falstaff – unfortunately more regarding his physical dimensions than his intellect.
We have already pointed out the striking similarity to Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, wanting to play all the roles himself but appearing to others as an ass. And now, after cosying up to Prime Minister Cameron in the hope of rising up the ladder of power, he is Iago in Othello, undermining him in the hope of destroying him.
After drawing attention to himself by dilly-dallying over which campaign he would support – remaining or leaving the European community – Boris finally went with the leavers, in the knowledge that most of those who would elect a new prime minister on the departure of Cameron are leavers. Like Othello, he has no principle on which to base his actions other than envy and spite towards those more successful than himself.
Like Iago he spits out racist language and his attack on Obama on his visit to London last week was more than shocking, referring to the President’s African antecedents in a way that even Obama-haters in America would not, instead of addressing the President’s arguments.
If any modern person compares with the noble leaders one finds in Shakespeare’s plays, it is Obama who, confronted with the buffoonery of the jester who would be king, rose above it and ignored it.