A Tangled Web
Woven by Trump is Growing

This essay has two foci related to this famous quote, “Oh what a tangled web we weave / When first we practice to deceive.” The first issue is the debate about the origin of this quote. Many people claim or at least assume that the author was William Shakespeare. Some even maintain that it was from Macbeth. Not so. In fact, it was written by Sir Walter Scott.

Sir Walter Scott statue at Scott Monument

I walked past the Scott Monument every day while I went to classes at New College at the University of Edinburgh. Actually, anybody that went to classes at New College, lived, or worked in Edinburgh would see that monument every day.

Scott wrote Marmion in 1808. Essentially, it is about Lord Marmion’s desire to marry Clara de Clare. However, she is engaged to Sir Ralph De Wilton. Marmion hatches a plan to get rid of Wilton by forging documents, which indicated that he was guilty of treason. The poem ends on Flodden Field where Marmion dies in battle.

The battle on Flodden Field

However, Wilton bravely does battle and is a hero, which allows the two lovers to marry and live together in marital bliss.

The happy couple

Sir Walter Scott used this couplet, “Oh what a tangled web we weave / When first we practice to deceive,” to describe Marmion’s fall from grace. He lied and conspired, which resulted in his demise.

Now, you know the backstory about the tangled web that Marmion wove. That tangled web occurred a couple of centuries ago. What about the present? Our fake president who claims, “Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart.”

He possesses two assets...really?

Trump is an embarrassment to anyone who is Scottish. I don’t like the idea that we share common Scottish ancestry. Nonetheless, one would think that he would have read or had someone read to him things that Scottish writers had written. However, Trump’s defense of the CIA whistleblower’s complaint is creating what Scott wrote centuries ago, “Oh what a tangled web we weave / When first we practice to deceive.” Now, it isn’t just Trump that has gotten entangled in a web, but the web has entangled Rudy Giuliani, the president’s attorney, William Barr, the Attorney General, Mike Pence, the Vice-President, Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State, Lindsey Graham, senator, Mick Mulvaney, acting White House chief staff, and the list will get longer.

While Trump didn’t read Marmion, apparently, he didn’t read Bobby Burns’ poem, Ode to a Louse…On Seeing One on a Lady’s Bonnet, at Church either. We just call that poem today, To a Louse. In the last stanza, there is this single haunting line is Burns’ wish, “To see ourselves as others see us.”