10 Things You Should Know About Shakespeare
People say it is a shame to not know who William Shakespeare was or what he did for this world, as he is still considered the most famous, prolific and controversial writer in the entire history of mankind. Is he the only author of all his works, or is it true that many other talented dramatists gathered under the fictional name and character “Shakespeare”? Did he even existed as a person? Did he wrote the Bible? Don’t laugh, people asked themselves this question too. Was he gay? Big Will’s figure and rather mysterious existence led a lot of researchers to dig deeper into his works, personality, life context, talent and so on. Books were written and movies were made and while the man rests in peace, the world still revolves around his life and works. So let’s see what we know and don’t know about the Bard because, hey, nobody should go through life without asking themselves at least once if “to be, or not to be”… in love with Shakespeare’s plays…
1. His pen didn’t rest for a second
William Shakespeare wrote 37 plays in all possible genres, but especially tragedies, comedies and historical and over 156 sonnets? This information is quite available and generally accepted, as almost every high school student was taught this in English class. The problem many historians, researchers and even scientists couldn’t solve until this day regards the fact that William Shakespeare was a poor child, coming from an illiterate peasant family. So, for some people, the fact that an uneducated man could write works of extreme depth and symbolism with a richness of vocabulary and stylistic subtleties, is considered ridiculous. Who wrote Shakespeare’s works? Well… this is an entire difficult, endless debate…
2. Thou shalt not…
… undermine the huge role that The Bard played in his times’ history and the development of the entire world. No matter he was an actual person or a very secret society of brilliant men, his plays helped the English language to get some standards and some rules. It is true that now we can joke all we want about the Shakespearean language and vocabulary, but let’s not forget that if we do speak this language, it is probably because of him too.
3. Macbeth’s curse
Theater in general is a place where anything can happen and everything that happens, happens with passion, personal involvement of the mind, the body and the spirit. We don’t know for sure, but it is safe to assume that there isn’t a theater in this world which didn’t stage at least one of Shakespeare’s plays and there isn’t any actor who didn’t wish to perform one of the monumental characters that Shakespeare left us with. But even if theater as a concepts equals Shakespearean plays, it also equals Macbeth’s curse. The most feared and hated character in all the Bard’s works, Macbeth, the dark one, seems to be still alive in his ghostly presence, as bad things seem to happen on stage every time this play is performed. It is said that Big Will inserted in the verses real witch and black magic curses and incantations, so on stage, accidents are known to have happened. You will never hear Macbeth’s name spoken out loud in a theater and actors confess going through strange episodes of impossible accidents or sudden illness while staging this particular play.
4. Shakespeare’s curse
Too many curses, but being that we do talk about Shakespeare, nothing is too far fetched. So The Bard didn’t stop only to Macbeth, but also left some kind of a curse to the entire world. There is an epitaph on his tomb stone that warns whoever wants to dig up his bones or move his body that disasters are going to follow soon after. “Good frend for Jesus sake forebeare,/ To digg the dust encloased heare;/ Bleste be the man that spares thes stones,/ And curst be he that moves my bones.” Dr Philip Schwyzer, senior lecturer at Exeter University, said: “Shakespeare had an unusual obsession with burial and a fear of exhumation. The stern inscription on the slab has been at least partially responsible for the fact that there have been no successful projects to open the grave.” In 2008, a team hired to restore Shakespeare’s grave in Stratford-upon-Avon worked carefully only at the surface, afraid to disturb the curse.
5. The man of many and none faces
We all know how Shakespeare looks like. Or do we? Apparently, there is no portrait or a legit physical description of the Bard to date from the times when he was alive. Moreover, what we do call now the face of Shakespeare represents only an engraver that contemporary play author Ben Johnson approved of, stating that it resembled to the Bard.
6. Marlowe, not Philip, but still the main character in a hard-boiled, noir policier story
There was a man, once, named Christopher Marlowe, the best and most famous theater play writer of his times, who was mysteriously murdered and secretly buried without any tomb stone above his head, just a few days before he was supposed to face a court and be judged – and possibly executed – for treason. It seems a juicy subject for all Shakespeare conspiracy members, who prompted the legit question of the peculiar coincidence between Marlowe’s almost surreal demise and the appearance of a new author, namely Shakespeare, almost overnight, author who until that point is said of never having written a play or a poem before. Who’s who? Science may never find out since Shakespeare’s bones can’t be taken out to be tested a little with the new forensic techniques. The physical resemblance, as seen in the two men portraits is also a very disturbing issue to consider…
7. Shakespeare had a family
Play writer or not, William Shakespeare had a wife and three children: Susana and a twins couple -Hamnet, the boy and Judith, the girl. Hamnet (whose name sounds disturbingly close to Hamlet) died when he was only 11 years old. Conspirators will jump at this bone and continue to insist that Shakespeare wasn’t what we think he was because of the evidence stating that Susana, at 27 years old, was so illiterate she couldn’t sign her own name, thus the father couldn’t have been in a million years the man who wrote things like Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? / Thou art more lovely and more temperate: / Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, / And summer’s lease hath all too short a date: / Sometimes too hot the eye of heaven shines, / And too often is his gold complexion dimm’d: / And every fair from fair sometimes declines, / By chance or natures changing course untrimm’d; / By thy eternal summer shall not fade, /Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest […] The truth may be ou there…
8. From plays to movies
We will not mention here the number of screen adaptations that were made after The Bard’s plays, nor the movies treating his autobiography, romanticizing his life and passions and so forth. We will say just this: does the expression “box office” mean anything to you? It’s that miracle box where money from a movie gather and make a fortune together, if the movie was good enough, right? Well, the box-office can be traced back to dear old William’s times when people had to put a penny into “The Box-Office” in order to enter the theater and assist to a play.
9. 101 things you didn’t know about Shakespeare
The book. Written by Janet Ware and Al Davis, this book basically presents the reader almost any question that was ever put regarding Shakespeare’s life, love life, works, identity, religion, taste in food, curses, etc, etc. It is a fun read although it is scarce in actual, factual, hard-science answers and, of course, if that even was necessary anymore, detractors arose and again, the conspiracy went live since people never got bored to dispute on the academical competencies offered by the school Shakespeare followed in his youth. Did it taught grammar and Latin? Was that just a poor country school for farmers’ children? Time will tell, we hope…
10. Bad reviews
Voltaire said about Shakespeare that he was indeed a man of literary talent, but his works were nowhere by far close to literary art. Well, de gustibus… as the Latins would say. But, up to this point, Romeo and Juliet is considered the most beautiful, famous and touching love story ever written, so no matter what people said first when they met Shakespeare’s works, now the world is at peace, at least on some commonly agreed issue: he may or may not have written everything we know, he may well not have existed at all, but one thing is certain: his plays and sonnets will live forever until the end of time.