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The Controversy In Macbeths Romeo And Juliet English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1487 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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What do Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, and Hamlet have in common? Anyone who underwent a high school English know these stories share a common author, William Shakespeare. However, the average individual may not know the story behind William Shakespeare’s life. With minimal research one could find out that William belonged to a family, in Stratford-upon-Avon, a family not noted for their significant wealth. Historical evidence also shows that Shakespeare’s parents lacked education; to the extent of illiteracy. To most it seems impossible for a boy born to illiterate parents to develop into the world’s greatest writer. His writings show in depth knowledge of wealthy families that only someone born into a wealthy family could portray with such accuracy. Scholars commonly combat this point by arguing his intelligence; Shakespeare portrayed nothing less than works of genius. Six signatures remain as the only example of William Shakespeare’s handwriting. Of all Shakespeare’s works, no proven version contains Shakespeare’s authentic handwriting. While many different viewpoints exist on who originally wrote “Shakespeare”, all can agree on one thing; the plays accredited to William Shakespeare are literary works of genius and among the finest writings in human history.

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Once Shakespeare’s authenticity came into question, claims to the “real” Shakespeare became common. Three divisions exist between Shakespearian scholars; Stratfordians, Oxfordians, and Baconians which all believe in a different “Shakespeare”. The Stratfordians believe that William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon wrote “Shakespeare”. The Stratfordians essentially do not believe in the “Shakespeare Controversy”. Supporters of Francis Bacon were the “Baconians”; Francis Bacon, a famous author, scientist, and statesmen, frequently shows up as a likely candidate. Parallels in political viewpoints exist between Shakespeare’s plays and known stances of Bacon. Born into a wealthy family, Bacon had the potential to acquire the appropriate education to write such masterpieces. Francis Bacon also left his hometown at some point in his life; a detail that William Shakespeare did that have the good fortune to have in his resume. Why Bacon would use a pseudonym where this trail begins to end. Only radical theories exist to explain his secrecy. Christopher Marlowe appears as another potential Shakespeare, but Marlowe seems likely as Bacon. The majority of historians believe Edward de Vere as the most likely Shakespeare. Those that support Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford as the Shakespeare are categorized as “Oxfordians”.

Edward de Vere, 17th earl of Oxford, was born in 1550 in Essex, England. Like many of the proposed Shakespeares, Edward de Vere’s writings stopped shortly after Shakespeare’s first pieces. De Vere traveled much of Europe and had extensive education so his background does not bring forth controversy as far as his potential as a playwright. Because of the unconventional nature for aristocrats to write plays or poetry, the Earl had good reason to use a pseudonym, which often explains Edward as being the real Shakespeare. A few topics portrayed in Shakespearian plays that would have been contentious for a man in De Vere’s position. Edward had his own acting troupe called “Oxford’s Boys” that he managed which displayed his thorough background in acting, plays, and poetry. De Vere also held a lease to a theater that competed with the Globe Theater. When comparing something written by Shakespeare and a piece by De Vere, scholars notice slight similarities that are often blown out of proportion to support their own theories. Edward de Vere certainly is the most qualified to be the greatest writer in history. Edward graduated from Cambridge at the age of 14 and had a library substantial enough to prove that he had the resources to write about the things Shakespeare did. Numerous links between Hamlet and Edward’s childhood life exist; showing that Hamlet could have been an autobiographical story. There are also numerous, small facts that cannot go unheard. For example, Edward had the nickname “Spear-Shaker” which bears a strange resemblance to “Shakespeare”.

Although there good evidence pointing to Edward de Vere exists; there also exist a few minor complications. He died before over 12 plays were produced. Fortunately in Edward’s favor, proof exists that the dating of plays is not always accurate. Proof exists that it actually was legal for aristocrats to write and publish, it was just not traditional. Because of the lack of controversy involved in Edward to writing plays, this makes it unlikely that he would need a pseudonym. Other reasons could exist for him to use a pseudonym, however, so this does not entirely disprove him as Shakespeare. There were also topics Shakespeare wrote about that if a man in Edward’s position published, he would receive criticism for writing about.

Information discrediting the Stratford man is easy to come by but this information should be disregarded. Without thinking of every little nuance that appeals to Oxford as Shakespeare; keep in mind that not for 150 years after the Stratford man’s death did any controversy surrounding his authorship exist. Not a single contemporary of Shakespeare’s ever once mentioned their thoughts pertaining to the chance the Stratford man simply took credit for another man that a desired to remain anonymous. An analogy to illustrate this would be Christian’s belief in God. When Jesus walked the Earth performing miracles and preaching of God; people were content with believing Jesus. Unfortunately, many years passed and they no longer witnessed the great things Jesus did and then people began to doubt God’s existence as proof no longer existed that he actually walked the Earth at some point. The same can be said for William Shakespeare on a different scale. Shakespeare was such an extraordinary playwright that after he was dead and gone; people began to doubt that someone from a poor family could develop into such an incredible writer. The mere fact that Shakespeare was literally a legendary writer is also important. Had he been a mediocre writer; no one would have looked so far into his life to try and discredit his writings. Scholars that attempt to prove the Oxford man as William Shakespeare are only piecing together an imaginary puzzle. On several occasions, contemporaries of the time referenced the Stratford man as being the Shakespearian writer.

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In Shakespeare’s writing, examples from literature found in grammar schools occur frequently. Examples also occur from his prerequisite to grammar school. Two plays produced at St. John’s College, Cambridge mention Shakespeare as a writer, poet, and playwright who lacks an education from a university. This simple fact rules out all other candidates as being Shakespeare except for the Stratford man. In one of the two aforementioned plays, The Second Part of the Return from Parnassus, a scene contains one actor Kempe saying to another actor Burbage,” Few of the university [men] pen plays well, they smell too much of that writer Ovid, and that writer Metamorphosis, and talk too much of Proserpina and Jupiter. Why, here’s our fellow Shakespeare puts them all down, aye and Ben Jonson too. O that Ben Jonson is a pestilent fellow, he brought up Horace giving the poets a pill, but our fellow Shakespeare hath given him a purge that made him bewray his credit.” This shows how Shakespeare’s lack of university education actually benefitted him. Others skill became corrupt with other’s thoughts. Shakespeare remained original and innovative and because of this he is remembered as a legendary writer.

The big question pertaining to the controversy is; why does it matter who wrote “Shakespeare”? Whether it pertains to giving credit to the true author or because people cannot sleep knowing Shakespeare is a fake, people simply want to know the truth. While it remains a relevant topic amongst literary scholars, not many actually know much of this or have even heard of the controversy. This is primarily because of the lack of concrete evidence to support any side of the debate. Many different opinions exist, but most of them are not noteworthy because of their sheer irrationality. Some that believe Queen Elizabeth I wrote “Shakespeare”. While many different viewpoints exist on who originally wrote “Shakespeare”, all can agree on one thing; the plays accredited to William Shakespeare are literary works of genius and among the finest writings in human history.


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