Thanks to the BBC I've watched two Shakespearean plays, Richard II and Henry IV Part I in the past fortnight. I hope I don't sound pretentious but I thought both were excellent and I can't wait til they show Henry IV Part II! I've never seen a Shakespearean play before, I've only ever read Macbeth for school but I'm really happy that I enjoyed them. I was kinda worried that they might be a bit difficult for me to understand but they weren't. At times the dialogue was lost on me of course but I quickly picked up the gist of each of the plays. Plus the fact that Jeremy Irons and Loki from the Avengers were in Henry IV Part I didn't hurt...
Afterwards, they show documentaries about Shakespeare and his plays and one of the things that popped up was the conspiracy theory that Shakespeare didn't write the plays at all. Instead some people believe, including the actor Derek Jacobi, that another, for example the Earl of Oxford wrote them and that Shakespeare, a mere actor, took the credit. Their reasons for this include:
- Playwriting was considered shameful and embarrassing back then within families of nobility so the Earl of Oxford (if it was him) couldn't accept credit, even if he wanted to, without disgracing his family.
- Shakespeare, this great literary genius, kept his children illiterate. Why?
- There is no evidence to suggest that Shakespeare received an education so how did a son of a glover learn to read and write when his own parents couldn't?
- Shakespeare came from Stratford-upon-Avon, so how did he know intimate details of how the courts worked, politics, culture and foreign countries that are so evident in his plays?
- In Shakespeare's will, he makes no mention of his 18 unpublished plays and the only theatrical reference was added after he died...
- The plays were signed inconsistantly with Shake-speare or Shak-spear which leads many to believe that Shakespeare was just a pseudonym or a made up person as characters with hyphens in plays such as Master Shoe-tie and Sir Luckless Woo-all were usually fictional.
I found this conspiracy theory really interesting but I don't know if I believe it. Sometimes it feels that if someone shows great talent or is extremely successful then people want to take it away from them and it feels like people are doing that to Shakespeare. Maybe they're right and Shakespeare is a fraud but want good would it do if it was proven true?
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