argument top image

< Back to question Who was Shakespeare? Show more Show less

"What's in a name?" one of Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers asked. When it comes to the identity of the greatest writer in the English language, a great deal. That mantle has long been bestowed on a glover's son from Stratford-Upon-Avon. But since the 19th century, there have been doubts over William Shakespeare's identity as the writer of the works attributed to the playwright. Was the Bard from Stratford a front for another writer? Was he just one participant in a collective group of writers? Or was he a she?

The Stratfordian position Show more Show less

William Shakespeare wrote the plays that bear his name. Any claims otherwise are Much Ado About Nothing.
(1 of 5) Next position >

Shakespeare was a common man from Warwickshire

By reading the plays, it is clear the author was clearly not a wealthy individual. He is also clearly from Warwickshire.
< (2 of 2) Next argument >

Vote

Not sure yet? Read more before voting ↓

Proponents


Context

You can tell from Shakespeare’s writing that the author has a nuanced ear and understanding of the cadence and manner in which common people converse.

The Argument

This literary sympathy for the masses indicates that Shakespeare was not some aristocrat or political insider, he was simply a glover’s son from Stratford. He also displays a strong familiarity with some of the grubbier aspects of Elizabethan that would likely have been outside the realm of experience of the nobility. There is a scene in the histories where Shakespeare refers to the pestilence of fleas that gather in the corner of taverns near the 'jordan' where patrons relieved themselves between drinks.[1] Common Warwickshire vocabulary is also evident in many of his plays. In Macbeth, Banquo is described as "blood bolter'd", meaning his hair was batted with blood, echoing the sentiment that in Warwickshire, snow is said to balter on horses' feet.[2] In a Midsummer Night's Dream, he describes a "bank where the wild thyme grows", a scene that could have been pulled straight from the banks of the River Avon.

Counter arguments

The author does not have to be a commoner to have sympathies for the plights of the less fortunate; that is reverse snobbery. There is also considerable knowledge of the workings of English and European courts in the plays, and several working class characters are not treated very sympathetically. The scenes described are by no means unique to Warwickshire. In fact, there are many parts of England that could have produced the scenes mentioned in A Midsummer Night's Dream and Macbeth. Also, just because the author clearly has a strong understanding of the way normal people speak and a comprehension of some of the sleazier corners of Elizabethan life does not mean he was not an aristocrat or noble. It is perfectly possible to be of relatively high social standing but still be familiar with the working classes. The author clearly also has knowledge that a nobleman had infinitely more access to, such as travel experience, falconry, law, politics, history, medicine, and source texts that had not yet been translated into English.

Premises

[P1] Evidence in the plays suggest the author was a common man from Warwickshire. [P2] Shakespeare was a common man from Warwickshire. [P3] Therefore, Shakespeare wrote the plays.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] The scenes described are not unique to Warwickshire. Ros Barber has shown that the plays do not use Warwickshire dialect. [3]

References

  1. https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-shakespeare/blogs/shakespeare-100-objects-jordan/
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2010/mar/14/who-wrote-shakespeare-james-shapiro
  3. https://theconversation.com/the-bard-didnt-use-warwickshire-dialect-so-was-he-really-shakespeare-43822

This page was last edited on Saturday, 20 Jun 2020 at 01:05 UTC

Explore related arguments