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William Shakespeare is easily considered the most famous and accomplished writer of all time. Almost everyone has at least heard of him. Shakespeare coined hundreds of words in the English language, and had by far the largest vocabulary known to man. People devote their entire life to learning more about the man William Shakespeare. There are a few questions that cause quite a bit of argument. There are some scholars and professors who do not believe that the man William Shakespeare actually authored his works. There are many different people who are said to have written the works which are so highly acclaimed. It is strange to think that something that should be so simple to figure out is highly debated in the academic world. Another question is if Shakespeare really did author his works, was he just writing for fun, or did they reflect on his life? Both of these questions are regularly debated at an advanced scholastic level. In this paper, I will address the question of the sonnets. Did Shakespeare really write them? Were they based on his life? I believe the answer to both those questions is a definite yes. William Shakespeare did write his sonnets and they were a reflection of his life and emotions.
The first question is did Shakespeare really write his poems and plays? Were the sonnets actually authored by him or someone else? In any argument, there are always two sides. You cannot just ignore the side of the story you do not agree with. You must take the evidence from both sides, and then draw your conclusion. Let us first take a look at the side in which scholars believe he did not author his works. Many people are believed to have written Shakespeare's works rather than himself, but we will only look at the top three people.
The first person believed to have authored Shakespeare's works is Edward de Vere. Edward de Vere was the 17th earl of Oxford and a medieval poet around Shakespeare's time. It is believed by some that William Shakespeare was just a pseudonym that Edward de Vere used. It is believed he did this to protect his family from humiliation. Poets were not considered very "cool". His poem writing ended just as soon as Shakespeare's started to pick up, so it makes sense to think that Edward de Vere and William Shakespeare were one in the same, however, other than coincidence, there is not a whole lot of proof for support (Online Shakespeare 1).
The second person believed to have written Shakespeare's works is Sir Francis Bacon. The reason Francis Bacon has been thought to write them is the fact that his works and Shakespeare's works are exceedingly similar. Bacon delighted highly in nature and flowers. He mentioned, in one of his works, thirty-two of the thirty- five flowers ever mentioned by Shakespeare. Bacon and Shakespeare also both shared a dislike of large crowds. The people who believe in this theory are called Baconians. They believe all this because Bacon's and Shakespeare's ideas and literature are so alike (Wilson 15). Just because two people view the world the same, does that mean that they are the same person? I do not believe so. There is not a whole lot of proof to believe that Sir Francis Bacon was really William Shakespeare.
The third and final person I am going to address is Queen Elizabeth herself. Believe it or not, many people actually believe that William Shakespeare was Queen Elizabeth. The main reason for this idea is the physical resemblance between Shakespeare and Queen Elizabeth. There are two doctors who established this fact. Dr. Lillian Schauartz and Dr. Leslie Dressler claim that Queen Elizabeth and William Shakespeare were one in the same by digitally matching their facial features (Wilson 20). Does this mean that every two people who look alike are the same? The answer to this is absolutely not. Even identical twins are not the same person. Yes, I agree that the Queen could have faked being a man named Shakespeare, but could she fake his marriage and children? I don't think so. It is quite a stretch to think that the Queen of England and William Shakespeare were the same people.
I have given three examples of supposed alternate Shakespeares. I would now like to present the case I have chosen to argue. I believe William Shakespeare was a real man who wrote his own works. There are a few facts that are hard to deny when studying this topic. These facts cannot be argued, hence they are facts.
The first fact that cannot be argued is that William Shakespeare was a real man who wrote for the Globe Theater. Shakespeare had a share of the Globe Theater (Kathman and Reedy, 1). If Shakespeare was a writer and owned part of the theater, why would he not write for the theater? Shakespeare was also a vivid actor. He performed with the acting company known by many names such as Lord Chamberlain's men, Lord Hudson's men, and The King's men (Kathman and Reedy, 1). Shakespeare started acting in 1592. He then acted for seventeen years (Wilson 60). He also acted in all of his plays (Wilson 68). Ian Wilson writes "The universally agreed fact about Shakespeareâ€¦ is that Shakespeare was an actor" (61). It is very hard to disagree with this statement, seeing as how it is fact.
The last point to make regarding this subject is that Shakespeare's name actually appears on his works (Kathman and Reedy, 1). Why would anyone want to argue that Shakespeare did not write his works when his name is clearly written on them? During Shakespeare's life, eighteen of his plays were published. After his death, fellow actors put together the rest of his works (Wilson 5). It is easy to see that the people of Shakespeare's day accepted him as the author of his works. A quote by Reedy and Kathman sums this up very well. "So now we've established that William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon was an actor in the company that performed the plays of William Shakespeare, and was also a sharer in the theater in which the plays were presented. To anyone with a logical mind, it follows that this William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon was also the writer of the plays and poems that bear his name. He is the man, with the right name, at the right time, and at the right place" (1).
There is still the question of the sonnets. Now that we have established that Shakespeare was the author of his works, we have to wonder about the sonnets. Were they written about this personal life? Did Shakespeare write them as a reflection of his personal life, or did he merely write them as fictional sonnets? I present the case that Shakespeare did write his sonnets as a reflection of his life.
Why might one believe that Shakespeare's sonnets were written about his life? Well, why would anyone write so passionately about a person if the person were fictitious? Shakespeare spends many sonnets trying to convince a young man to reproduce (Rolfe 1). Poets almost always had a patron who would support their writing, so Shakespeare was most likely writing to his patron. It is not very often an author composes sonnets of that matter in honor of a fake man. Shakespeare also addresses a very allusive "dark lady". There are many questions as to her identity. It was very normal for business men to have mistresses away from home, so his mistress could have been the dark lady. The theaters were built next to brothels, so the dark lady could have very well been a prostitute as well. I guess no one will ever know for sure. Many people think that "The sonnets are a unique window into William Shakespeare's private life in London" (Durr 85). When anybody writes something, you can always see a little bit of that person's personality. It is nearly impossible to write something totally objective.
Another crucial reason Shakespeare's sonnets were based on his life is the fact that he did not want them to be published (Rolfe 1). These sonnets he had written were private to him and he did not want everyone reading them. If they were written fictitiously, why would he care? The sonnets were not meant to be published. They are written as very personal letters to a friend. Shakespeare also uses the word "I" a lot, which makes the sonnets that much more personal (Durr 82). People everywhere love to read things that are not meant to be read. If a sign says do no enter, the first thing people do is enter. Shakespeare did not want his sonnets to be read, so what did people start doing? They read them. "Nothing could have kept a hundred and fifty poems by so popular an author out of print if there had not been strong personal reasons for maintaining their privacy" (Rolfe 1). People wanted to know what was going on behind Shakespeare's closed doors.
Even though there are many questions concerning Shakespeare's authorship, it is very clear to myself and many others that William Shakespeare is the true author of his works. It is also very clear that his sonnets were a reflection of his life. All my arguments can be summed up in one simple quote. "How do we know that Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare? We know because the historical record tells us so, strongly and unequivocally. The historical evidence demonstrates that one and the same man, William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon, was William Shakespeare the player, William Shakespeare the Globe sharer, and William Shakespeare the author of the plays and poems that bear his name" (Kathman and Reedy, 1). So Shakespeare did author his sonnets and they reflected his life.