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Shakespeare or Oxford

In: English and Literature

Submitted By mini724
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Who wrote the works of Shakespeare? Certainly it was Shakespeare, but people have doubted Shakespeare as the true author as early as the 18th century. They began to consider the true author of Shakespeare’s plays and poems. Since the 1920s Edward de Vere has been the most popular alternative candidate proposed for the authorship of Shakespeare’s works. Edward de Vere, was the Earl of Oxford in 17th century. He was the Queen Elizabeth’s principal minister, a writer and a lyric poet. He is the most popular claimant for obvious reasons – he was highly educated, tremendously aristocratic, upwardly mobile, and well-versed in country life.

After the death of Edward de Vere’s father, he became a ward of Queen Elizabeth and received an excellent education in the household of her principal advisor, Sir William Cecil. According to a curriculum in Cecil, Edward de Vere’s daily studies included dancing, French, Latin, writing and drawing, cosmography, penmanship, riding, shooting, exercise and prayer. He showed a prodigious talent for scholarship from his early years. Edward de Vere graduated from Cambridge University at age of 14; he was awarded an honorary MA by Cambridge on a Royal progress. He earned a Master of Arts of 16, and then attended Gray’s Inn to study law. “The merchant of Venice”, one of the Shakespeare’s plays discusses law. One of the important people who influence his early studies is his maternal uncle Arthur Golding, an officer in the Court of Wards under Cecil. He is credited with the translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, published in 1567, a book widely recognized as having a major influence on “Shakespeare”. William Shakespeare, by contrast, was born in Stratford-Upon-Avon to a family of unremarkable status and long stretches of his life remain undocumented. He did not have a good education, but then in his twenties, he began to publish the wisest works of literature that the world has even seen. Edward de Vere had the right education and social standing to write in detail about the classics, law, foreign countries and language, but Shakespeare? How can he write these plays and poems without any education?

Some of Edward de Vere’s early poems appeared in print under his own name. However, this stopped soon after texts were printed under Shakespeare’s name. It is suggested therefore, that Edward de Vere took on his pseudonym when Shakespeare’s earliest works were first published: “The Rape of Lucrece” (1593) and “Venus and Adonis” (1594) were dedicated to Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton, who was considering marring Edward de Vere’s daughter. At court, Edward de Vere was nicknamed “Spear-shaker” due to his ability both at tournaments and because his coat of arms featured a lion brandishing a spear. Edward de Vere used pseudonym to protect himself, because his many plays about political corruption were strictly forbidden at that times.

Many of the plays parallel events from Edward de Vere’s life, in particular the play “Hamlet”. Similarities between Edward de Vere’s life and Hamlet suggest that Hamlet was almost an autobiographical play about the Edward de Vere’s life. In the play, Polonius’s daughter, Ophelia is unhappily involved with Hamlet; Edward de Vere married Burghley’s daughter, Anne Cecil, and the couple had a very stormy relationship. Secondly, Hamlet is captured by pirates on his return to Denmark. Interestingly, the very same thing happened to Edward de Vere upon his return to England. Thirdly, Lord Burghley wrote out a set of precepts, "Towards thy superiors be humble yet generous; with thine equals familiar yet respective" (Cecil10), intended for the use of his son Robert, were published in 1618. “Hamlet” first appeared in the quarto in 1603. Also, Hamlet’s trusted friend is Horatio. Edward de Vere’s most trusted relative seems to have been Horace Vere, called Horatio in some documents. Mark Twain, the famous American writer published an article “Is Shakespeare Dead”. It explores the controversy over the authorship of the Shakespeare. Many people support his point of view, like Comic actor Chaplin, the famous American director Orson Welles. There are also many people who insist that Shakespeare is the true author. According to Justice Stevens who is an Oxfordian, “a lot of people like to think its Shakespeare because they like to think that a commoner can be such a brilliant writer,” he says, “Even though there is no Santa Claus, it’s still a wonderful myth.”

How can we ascribe these greatest works of literature to such a “commoner”, and not to Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford?

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