Comparison of the Various Kings in Shakespeare’s Plays

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We all have our own individual preconceived notions of what we believe to be or what makes a good or bad King. William Shakespeare has lived through 33 wars and war is consistent topic in his plays. In times of war, I believe that Shakespeare used his plays to imply what a king’s true character shall prevail, good or bad. Shakespeare writings spoke of the current leader at the time. The play speaks of the behaviors kings displayed in the time of war. Often time, kings or people in authority hide behind their staff but it is not until they are faced with crisis is when you see what they are really made of. I will be comparing the various kings in Shakespeare’s plays in no specific order.

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In the play “Macbeth”, Macbeth committed treason and murder to gain the royal throne. I do not believe that Macbeth was a good leader because I believe he allowed the persuasion of the witch’s prophecy and from his wife for the killing of Duncan. In contrary, I do not think he was a total bad leader either. Macbeth’s greatest weakness was just being unable to stand up and make decisions on his own. If Macbeth was not so malleable, he might have been a decent leader.

In “Richard II”, Richard II had poor money management skills and caused his country to go into bankruptcy after taking over the royal throne. Richard was disliked by the common people and loved by the wealthy, which is a common characteristic of republicans. It was reported that Richard II spent money where it was not needed. He spent money on the rich and left the poor to be poorer. What makes Richard II a bad leader is that he was not considerate of everyone in his kingdom.

King John was the king of England. Although it was King John’s nephew, Arthur, who was next in line for the throne, King John was still appointed to the throne. However, King John was a bad leader. His greatest weakness was that he lacked integrity. King John was not a good leader because he was also a theft. To take the thrown knowing he was wrong, shows his poor character.

King Lear was the king of Britain. King Lear was not realistic and did poorly at his job of being King. King Lear’s greatest weakness was that he was very unaccountable to his actions of being king. He did not want to handle his king’s duties and responsibilities but wanted the fame and title.

Macbeth, Richard II, John, and Lear were all kings, but all had flaws. Kingship reminds me of politics. The similarity between these kings and politicians are that none of them are often honest. I am not sure if the desire for power over takes their honesty, dignity, and morals. It seems that in these types of positions in authority, these listed qualities are no longer necessary or practiced holding the political office.

There are several factors that make a great leader. A great leader practices integrity, courage, honesty, and humility. Also, a great leader must have vision or plan to lead. The most important of the qualities is integrity. Webster defines integrity as the firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values, incorruptibility. A great leader must have integrity. I believe that Shakespeare believes this also. Without integrity, we often question the leadership of the individual. Second value a great leader must have is courage. Often, in the role of leadership, we are faced with trials that require courage and bravery to protect what is right for your kingdom and/or the people. Thirdly, honesty is another requirement of a great leader. A great leader must be honest with his/her kingdom. An honest leader will be esteemed. Fourth, humility I believe is one of the most important qualities as well. When you are humble to your people or kingdom you are able to have compassion to lead. Lastly, having a vision or plan to lead is an important trait to have as a great leader. Some people in power can have integrity, courage, honesty, and humility but no vision or plan. Some leaders will get the throne, or the office, and have no strategic plan or direction.

What makes a bad leader is someone like our current President Donald Trump. A bad leader would be self-absorbed, lacks integrity, and egoistic. These types of leaders often ignore the people thus losing the support of their kingdom or the people. Unsuccessful leaders will eventually lose their kingship because of their disconnect with the people. reports, “Leaders without vision will fail. Leaders who lack vision cannot inspire teams, motivate performance, or create sustainable value.” A vision (or plan) should be the foundation of every goal a leader wants to accomplish during their rulership or presidency. The lack of a vision or plan opens the door for leaders to be persuaded by others who may not have the same integrity, courage, honesty, humility, and agenda. Another quality that makes a bad leader is when it is all about the leader and not about the people they lead. I believe that our current president is guilty of this. He is all about how his presidency has done this and that and really not looking at what the people need as a whole.

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