Authorship Theory

.. mbling, royal adviser Lord Burghley (nicknamed Polus), as the officious, bumbling royal adviser Polonius. The parallels between Burghley and Polonius are so vast and detailed that even the staunch Stratfordian A. L. Rowse admitted that there is nothing original anymore in asserting this widely recognized connection.

Furthermore, like Polonius, Burghley had a daughter. At age twenty-one, Oxford was married to Anne Cecil, and their nuptial affairs were anything but blissful. The tragically unstable triangle of Hamlet-Ophelia-Polonius found its living parallel in Oxford-Anne-Polus. In short, from the profound (Oxford’s mother quickly remarried upon the untimely death of her husband) to the picayune (Oxford was abducted by pirates on a sea voyage), Hamlet’s Mouse-trap captures the identity of its author. Helena. Just as details of Oxford’s life story appear throughout each of the Shake-speare plays and poems, Anne Cecil’s tragic tale is reflected in many Shake-spearean heroines, including Ophelia, Desdemona, Isabella, Hero, Hermione, and Helena.

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In All’s Well That Ends Well, Helena seeks out and eventually wins the hand of the fatherless Bertram, who is being raised as a ward of the court–precisely the situation Oxford found himself in when Anne was thrust upon him by his guardian and soon-to-be father-in-law. Like Helena, Anne was rejected by her headstrong new husband, who fled to Italy rather than remain at home with her. Both Oxford and Bertram refused to consummate their vows–and both eventually impregnated their wives by virtue of a bed trick (the strange and almost unbelievable stratagem wherein the husband thinks he is sleeping with another woman but is in fact sleeping with his own wife). Falstaff. The comic conscience of the Henry IV plays, Falstaff can be read as an authorial self-parody embodying two of Oxford’s more notorious qualities: a razor wit and a wastrel’s worldview.

In The Merry Wives of Windsor, Falstaff also provokes Master Ford’s jealousy, lampooning the author’s own hypocrisy in flying into a jealous rage at his wife when he suspected her of infidelity. And the romantic subplot involving the daughter of the other merry wife–Anne Page–so specifically skewers the marriage negotiations between Oxford, Anne Cecil, and her onetime prospective husband, Sir Philip Sidney, that the dowries and pensions mentioned in the play match precisely those of the play’s historical counterparts. In the same play, Falstaff brags to Master Ford that he fear s not Goliath with a weaver’s beam. This odd expression is in fact shorthand for the biblical Goliath’s spear as it is detailed in II Samuel 21:19: Goliath the Gittite: the staff of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam. Not only did Oxford mark the verse in his Bible; he even underlined the words weaver’s beam.

King Lear. In a play whose dramatic engine is the family dynamics of two tragically flawed patriarchs (Lear and the Earl of Gloucester), Shake-speare stages the exact familial relationships that Oxford faced in his twilight years. His first marriage to Anne Cecil left him a widower, like Lear, with three daughters, of whom the elder two were married. His second marriage produced only one son, whose patrilineal claims could conceivably be challenged by Oxford’s bastard son–a mirror of the gullible Earl of Gloucester’s situation. As if highlighting one of the thematic underpinnings of King Lear, in his Bible, Oxford marked Hosea 9:7 (The prophet is a fool; the spiritual man is mad), which Lear’s daughter Goneril inverts in her venomous remark that Jesters do oft prove prophets.

Prospero. The Tempest’s exiled nobleman, cast-away hermit, and scholarly shaman provides the author’s grand farewell to a world that he recognizes will bury his name, even when his book is exalted to the ends of the earth. Oxfordians, in general, agree with scholarly tradition that The Tempest was probably Shake-speare’s final play–and many concur with the German Stratfordian critic Karl Elze that all external arguments and indications are in favor of the play being written in the year 1604. Before he takes his final bow, Prospero makes one last plea to his eternal audience. Drawing from a contiguous set of Oxford’s marked verses at Ecclesiasticus 28:1-5 concerning the need for reciprocal mercy as the precondition of human freedom, Prospero delivers his farewell speech with the hopes that someone will take him at his word:. R elease me from my bands With the help of your good hands! Gentle breath of yours my sails Must fill or else my project fails, Which was to please.

Now I want Spirits to enforce, art to enchant, And my ending is despair, Unless I be reliev’d by prayer, Which pierces so that it assaults Mercy itself and frees all faults. As you from crimes would pardon’d be, Let your indulgence set me free. Like Hamlet, The Tempest’s aristocrat cum magus begs those around him to hear his story and, in so doing, to free him from his temporary chains. The rest, as the academic ghost-chase for the cipher from Stratford has ably demonstrated, is silence. At the end of The Tempest, Prospero uses the metaphors of shipwrecks and stormy weather to deliver his closing salvo against the desolate island he called home.

During the final year of his life, the Earl of Oxford clearly had such imagery on his mind, as can be seen in his eloquent April 1603 letter to his former brother-in-law, Robert Cecil, on the death of Queen Elizabeth: In this common shipwreck, mine is above all the rest, who least regarded, though often comforted, of all her followers, she hath left to try my fortune among the alterations of time and chance, either without sail whereby to take the advantage of any prosperous gale, or with anchor to ride till the storm be overpast. The alterations of time and chance have been cruel to Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford. But the last five years of discoveries and developments have made two things increasingly clear: the tempest has broken, and Prospero’s indulgence is finally upon us. Added material. FOOTNOTE* Another intriguing reference comes from the satirist Thomas Nashe, who included a dedication to a Gentle Master William in his 1593 book Strange News, describing him as the most copious poet in England.

He alludes to the blue boar, Oxford’s heraldic emblem, and roasts William with the Latin phrase Apis lapis, which translates as sacred ox. I am a sort of haunted by the conviction that the divine William is the biggest and most successful fraud ever practised on a patient world. The more I turn him round and round the more he so affects me. But that is all–I am not pretending to treat the question or to carry it any further. It bristles with difficulties, and I can only express my general sense by saying that I find it almost as impossible to conceive that Bacon wrote the plays as to conceive that the man from Stratford, as we know the man from Stratford, did. Bibliography Shakespeare Essays.


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