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Shakespeare Authorship Controversy Essay

1903 words - 8 pages

Shakespeare Authorship Controversy Zach Radel
The Shakespeare authorship controversy is the disagreement involving the dispute of whether William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon wrote the thirty-seven plays attributed to him. The authorship of the great works was first seriously questioned in the mid 19th century when reverence of Shakespeare as the paramount playwright in history had become the mutually broadcast opinion. Shakespeare's biography, which gleaned the details of his somewhat unexceptional origins and his reasonably secretive existence, seemed incompatible with his reputation for poetic genius. The controversy has spawned over seventy "authorship candidates", whose supporters argue that there are more plausible authors than Shakespeare. They state similar quotes such as, "Shakespeare's writings testify to the training of a scholar and a traveller, and to an intimate acquaintance with the great and learned." (Schoenbaum 545) Most contemporary scholars however agree with the opinion that, although other persons such as Christopher Marlowe, Francis Bacon, and Edward de Vere could be seen as possible authors, evidence, tradition, and history state that Shakespeare stands the legitimate author of all thirty-seven plays.A popular theory of anti-stratfordians is: The Marlovian theory. The theory holds that the Elizabethan poet and playwright Christopher Marlowe was the true author of the Shakespearean works. A question arises though, when you realize that if he was already a well-known playwright, why didn't he take credit for the plays that he supposedly wrote under the pseudonym of Shakespeare. One of the main arguments for the Marlovian theory is the similarity in style. Many parallelisms can be drawn between the plays by the authors including one set, which includes very similar versage from the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet and Marlowe's The Jew of Malta. However, when comparing the written work between the two authors, the main problem with using similar writing style as an argument is it is not completely possible to determine whether they were by the same author, or if Shakespeare copied them knowingly or unknowingly. It is also worth mentioning that Shakespeare seemed to only "copy" from Marlowe, no one else and that Marlowe's influence is actually acknowledged by almost all Shakespeare scholars. His influence is duly noted in many of Shakespeare's early historical plays like The Life and Death of King John or Henry IV"As new information has become available over the years, however, the Marlovian argument about Marlowe's death has itself changed from thinking that because, in their view, he wrote Shakespeare his death must have been faked; to challenging the details of the inquest in an attempt to show that it must have been; to claiming that the circumstances surrounding it suggest that the faking is the most likely scenario, whether he went on to write Shakespeare or not." (Pinksen 19)This seems unlikely though because an...

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