Just who the hell is this Will Shakespeare?

by joannadandy 13 Replies latest watchtower scandals

  • joannadandy

    I have always heard the arguements, rather absent mindedly in the dark halls of Riverview (the english department's ancient building on my campus) that Shakespeare is not responsible for writing what is ascribed to him.

    My Shakespeare professor had to deal with this the first day of class, when someone said, "Shouldn't we be talking about Marlowe" and he handled it as best he could in those circumstances, "For the purposes of this university and this class it has been decided you need to study Shakespeare. I'm just presenting it, and it's good stuff. I don't care who wrote it, or how many people wrote it, it's just good literature." I tend to agree with him. (Tho for my own purposes, it's good, but not that good! The guy (whoever he is) is very ambiguous which leaves everything open to interepretation. Does that mean he was deep? Or just incomplete and toying with audiences.) Now before all Shakespeare fanatics slam me, don't get me wrong, I do like him. I am just not sure he is the Greatest Literate mind of the English Language, but then again, I can not quickly point out someone better suited to the title so I will keep my opinion to myself on this.

    So as I was saying...I didn't pay a lot of attention to this debate or know a lot of the details. In my Renisance Lit class, my professor said "Marlowe was a slacker. He had to use his spy connections in order to graduate. In fact while I am not a HUGE fan of Shakespeare, I like Marlowe even less. He seems far too heady for me and deep. Shakespeare is far more playful in my mind. However I do see inconsistancies in Shakespeare that lead me to believe if he did write them, he did not do so alone.

    Frontline just had a very interesting documentary on PBS tonight presenting the "evidence" and the supposed theories about the authorship of Shakespeare called "Much Ado About Something". It was really great. (Or at least to me it was interesting) Here is a link:


    The theory proposed is that Marlowe didn't die, that in fact he went to Italy in exile to escape pressures as being labeled a heretic by the church because he said Jesus was a bastard and Mary was a good liar (funny stuff) among other things. Just as the case against him was being compiled and drawing to an end, he died and was quickly burried in a mass grave. Or so history says. These theorists believe he escaped. His patron Wallsingham carried his plays back to England and they were given to Shakespeare who was essentially a stooge. The maker of this documentary thinks Shakespeare did present the plays and added his own stylistic charm to them, but the themes of exile, loss, faked death, resurrection, desire to return to one's homeland, etc. are so strong in all of Shakespeares work that seems odd an unlettered man who lived in England his whole life would write about such things.

    Anyway it was interesting to think about. If any of you are interested I would highly recommend seeing this show if you get the chance.

    I'm also curious as to what people think. Does it matter who wrote them? Is this a great travesty of the English literature that Marlowe is swept under the rug? Do you think these theories of faked death are plausible?

    Fill me in...I'm curious to know what you all think...

  • joannadandy

    sheesh peeps, I was just asking for opinions, not for you to review your Oxford editions of the Complete Works of Shakespeare.

  • Stephanus

    You're posting to the wrong crowd here, Joanna! I've thought of posing the question as to whether King Arthur has so little historical evidence attached to the legend because he may actually be known to history by another name, but I thought "Why bother?" I'd have got the same number of responses as you in your own deep and meaningful thread.

    BTW, do you remember the episode of the Muppet Show where they have their intellectual panel discussion and that week the question was "Was Shakespeare Bacon?", followed by a whole bunch of Miss Piggy jokes?

  • Abaddon

    The arguement, as you allude to at the start, is largely irrelevant.

    We have a virtually incomparable corpus of work. We have very little evidence of who wrote it, but then we have very little evidence of anyone other than Shakespeare writing it.

    Most speculation is just that, and not only Marlow, but Queen Elisabeth II, Edward de Vere, Bacon and Derby, amongst others, have been acclaimed as the author. They differ only in their degree of implausability, but some aspects of Shakey's life are implausable (although anyone calling him unlettered needs ignoring quick as they're speaking out the wrong hole) - for example, he just stopping writing at a certain point, and his utter disinterest in preserving his work.

    Here are some relevant links;





    Most of them are quite partisan, but I've tried to give a selection of viewpoints.

    I have to confess to very little interest in the authorship debate. There's not enough evidence to make it anything other than dinner party conversation. Bit like god *ducks*.

    It's far more fun to debate about whether Shakey was gay, or bi. Read the last few dozen Sonnets. Homoeroticism that has been ignored by bigoted scholars, or explained away.

    Make yourself a cup of coffee, sit down, read 'em, what you think?

  • Cicatrix

    I don't know a whole lot about Shakespearean historicity, but I've felt "the play's the thing" ever since I first read all of Shakespeare's works the summmer I turned sixteen. I didn't really understand a lot of what I read, but was drawn to it anyway. I find that as I get older, I appreciate the works-whoever wrote them, even more. Oddly enough, my son fell in love with Shakespeare when he was five,with no encouragement from me whatsoever. I've spent the past five years attempting to find books for him on Shakespeare. He seems to also be drawn to the sheer beauty of the words, without a complete understanding of their meaning. We often pop a recording of Shakespeare's sonnets in the cassette player when we travel.

    I've heard various arguements as to Shakespeare's identity, most commonly that it was his wife that actually penned his works (I think even an Awake at one time posed that theory). It seems that authorship has been something argued about since time began lol. I don't ascribe to the theory that it couldn't have been Shakespeare himself that wrote the works because of his lack of formal education. I have known too many children who have been "unschooled" who exhibit talents that go far beyond their formally schooled peers to believe that only persons who recieve a formal education can do great things. There are many ways to obtain a well-rounded education. As far as the works resembling Marlowe's,one should keep in mind that imitation was considered to be a way of honoring respected ones at that time.That may explain the similarity to Marlowe's works. Or it may have been Marlowe himself-- who knows. I would think that if Marlowe really cared, he would have left some indication when he died that they were his.

    What concerns me is that the conjecture tends to pull people's attention away from what makes the works so timelessly compelling. It doesn't draw one to it, if every time you hear Shakespeare, you are confronted with the controversy about who wrote the works. In an era when aliteracy is becoming the norm, we should want to do all we can to encourage people to delve into the material and appreciate the things that Shakespeare had to say about the human condition, as much of it is as relevant today as it was then.I think that may be what your professor was trying to get across to the class.

    Now I'll get off my soapbox and tell you that although I like the works of Shakespeare, I tend to agree with you about all of the hullabaloo. Just what exactly makes one "the greatest mind of all English literature"? Writing is about perception-it's not something that can be proved factually beyond a shadow of a doubt. How could there be one greatest mind of literature, when there are so many wonderfully diverse points of view to consider? And so many unique writing styles. Personally, I don't want to narrow my enjoyment of the written word down like that:).

    So which of the works moves you the most? I particularly like Othello and Sonnet 16.

  • cruzanheart

    When I was in high school I wrote a brilliant essay about the possibility that Shakespeare was the alter ego of Christopher Marlowe and some other gentleman whose name escapes me in my old age. I got a "C" because my teacher had absolutely no imagination, but I thought it was an interesting theory. Personally, I agree with the philosophy that it doesn't matter who wrote it - it's brilliant stuff and I enjoy reading the plays and watching the performances. Once upon a time in Dallas, I had the privilege of watching a young unknown actress named Sigourney Weaver make a guest appearance at "Shakespeare in the Park." You could tell then that she was destined for greatness. (And for breast implants - you never saw such a flat-chested lady!)

    Anybody seen the movie "Scotland, PA" that came out a year or so ago? It's a pretty cool take on


  • expatbrit

    I'm pretty much like Abaddon, in not having much interest in the questions of who wrote the plays. While there are theories of alternative writers, there doesn't seem to be any solid evidence to back them up.

    My favourite play is Henry V. Simple, to the point, and the French get smacked.

    Anyone read Webster? Shakespeare with PMS.


  • Abaddon

    I like Hv, but I'm basically a bit of a fan of Hal, who became Hv, and whose career of going from utter libetine to Frenchy walloper is covered in 1Hiv and 2Hiv, as well as Hv. Love his speech that starts "I know you all, but, hell, it's time to go home!!"

  • truthseeker1

    You missed the article in AWAKE! about William Shakespear??? It comes directly from god so it must be the correct answer.

  • heathen

    Mel Gibson played a great Hamlett. I also saw a twilite episode with John Lovitz that was pretty good where he wants the part of mcbeth so bad he kills the competition only to find out he is in a psycho ward and they behead him. At least I think it was mcbeth ,well substitute the right play if that is wrong I always get my shakespear mixed up .We did study some Shakespear in high school we did Julius Ceasar and there was no mention that he stole anyones work .You are right the language is hard to follow but once you get the gist of old english it becomes a very descriptive piece of work . Beware the ides of March bwahahahahahahahhh

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