Last Wednesday night I saw a performance of Richard III, purportedly Shakespeare’s first blockbuster hit. The performance was unusual on two counts. Richard was played by a women, Kate Mulvany, who is not only a good actress but one of Australia’s better playwrights. Secondly Richard was played by an actual cripple, Kate suffers from a spinal deformity.
Richard III is the first of Shakespeare’s great corporate psychopaths. One reason I particularly like the Humm/7MTF model of temperament is that is the only system I know that includes psychopaths as part of its profiling methodology (who are high Hustler/GoGetters with low levels of Normal/Regulator). In my workshops I often read an excerpt from a great article in the New Yorker: What Would Jesus Bet? 30 March 2009. The article is about the first professional poker player to win $1 million in a single tournament: Chris Ferguson.
“I asked Rodriguez how unusual Ferguson was in being so fluent in math. “A lot of players know the math,” he said. “There’s no way around it, really, but the majority of them go on instinct, or feel, or a read on a player. It seems like a lot of them are just born with a sense of games. If you talk to a lot of these guys outside, they’re never not playing a game. They’re reading you. That’s why they’re so engaging. They know what people want; it’s very easy for them to please you. They also know how to deceive.”
This sums up corporate psychopaths perfectly. Achieving success is a game; they easily use deceit. They have little sympathy but very high levels of empathy, they spend a lot of time working out what makes someone tick and manipulating them. Shakespeare captures these traits brilliantly in Richard III.
One great scene occurs early in the play when he starts wooing Lady Anne to become his wife. She initially refuses accusing Richard of killing her husband. Richard first denies then admits he did so, but excuses himself that it was done in battle, he did it because Anne’s beauty had captured his soul, and her husband is now in heaven. He finally persuades Anne to accept his ring by giving her his sword and telling her to kill him. After she refuses she departs, ring on the finger. Richard then praises his manipulative skills in a wonderful soliloquy, wickedly executed by Kate Mulvany.
Yet this performance is bettered by Kate in a second scene late in the play. Anne is dead, Richard is now king, but want to increase hold on power by marrying his niece, the daughter of his deceased brother, King Edward IV and Elizabeth. He pleads with Elizabeth to persuade her daughter to marry him. She initially refuses on the reasonable grounds that while he was their Protector, he had her two sons murdered in the Tower. Richard says that while she has a case what’s done is done, and she should be looking to the future. If he marries her daughter and they have children their sons will be her grandsons, and future Kings of England. The dialog between the two is a wonderful demonstration of a corporate psychopath in action and Kate Mulvany does it brilliantly.
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