William Shakespeare's Authenticity Essay

3477 words - 14 pages

William Shakespeare's Authenticity

Over the past several centuries, many scholars have been debating the authenticity of Shakespeare and his works. Many books have even been published questioning if the legendary playwright from Stratford is the author of his many plays and poems. This theory still remains as a possibility today and much of the evidence stems from Shakespeare’s great literary achievements, his humble beginnings, his inadequate education and the missing chapters in his life.

Throughout his writings, there is evidence of similarities between the language and literature of the time period with subjects such as law, history, politics and geography as well as manners and knowledge of the courts which would not have been known by a common citizen or the son of a tradesman. The range of knowledge which he displays would only be expected of a man of extensive education during the time period that was familiar with the royal figures that are depicted in his works. The insufficient records have added even more mystery as none of the original manuscripts have survived and were possibly destroyed to conceal the identity of the actual author. Although Shakespeare is considered by many to be the greatest playwright of all time, much speculation surrounds his authenticity through theories based on linguistic and historical problems as well as criticism.

Since the four centuries that have passed since Shakespeare’s times, several theories have been developed which claim that others may be the legitimate authors of his works. The playwrights usually focused on are Francis Bacon, Edward de Vere, William Stanley, Roger Manners and Christopher Marlowe. Other theories support the fact that perhaps several of these individuals collectively wrote his works or that Shakespeare himself stole the countless pieces of literature and claimed them as his own.

The day to day life of the author was ordinary. He was a hard-working, middle-class man that made good money and took care of his family. Such a basic lifestyle has led many to believe that this ordinary man could not have written these extremely passionate and thought-provoking works. No one surrounding Shakespeare ever commented on his greatness and that a man with such little education could not have known about the aristocratic nature of the upper class.

However, some men such as Meres and Jonson did see him as a respectable gentleman and a talented writer. This argues the fact that a simple Stratford boy could have become a literary icon simply because of his genius and that his knowledge might not have been obtained in a school and wasn’t simply learned. His genius might have been applied by making accurate observations on everyday life. It is also important to remember that many great authors had even less schooling.

Bacon, though, has been one of the candidates for the true authorship of Shakespeare’s works due to references...

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