Who Wrote Shakespeare: Defining Authorship Essay

Who Wrote Shakespeare: Defining Authorship Essay

Length: 1900 words (5.4 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Term Papers

Open Document

Essay Preview

The works of Shakespeare are some of the most respected in English literature. They have set the standard for all the great writers who followed. Although these works have been attributed to William Shakespeare of Stratford, they could have been written by anyone. The definite authorship of a work is always uncertain, but these works are particularly contested. There are those who believe someone besides Shakespeare of Stratford wrote the works, while others believe his identity, as a whole, is a conspiracy. Clearly the author of a work is important, but some wonder if knowing the author’s identity is really worth all the fuss. The works of Shakespeare will still reign at the top of English literature no matter who wrote them. Therefore, the question of authorship may not even be relevant.
Before delving any further into the question of authorship, it may be helpful to define what an author is. According to Focault, the actual identity of an author is irrelevant. He believes that the author is a concept, not an individual. This is because when works are accredited to an author, some may be left out if the writing style, wording, subject matter, or historical time frame is drastically different from the others. This makes the author specific to a certain style, and outside of that style, the author must be someone else. He uses the example that if it were discovered that someone other than the man from Stratford wrote Shakespeare’s works, it would not change the function. Either way, the works will still be called the works of Shakespeare. So essentially, Shakespeare is no longer an individual’s identity; it is an ideal for a certain form of writing.
This loss of identity can be seen in the raging debate over the Shakespeare auth...

... middle of paper ...

...bjectivity in Barthes, Focault, and Derrida. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1992. Print.
Focault, Michael. Language, Counter-Memory, Practice. Selected Essays and Interviews. New York: Cornell University Press, 1980. Print.
Heller, S. In a centuries-old debate, Shakespeare doubters point to new

evidence. The Chronicle of Higher Education v. 45 no. 39 (June 4 1999) pg. A22-3

Howard, J. A. Shakespeare Scholar Takes on a ‘Taboo’ Subject. The Chronicle

of Higher Education v. 56 no. 29 (April 2 2010) p. B11-12

Lye, John. The ‘Death of the Author’ as an instance of theory. Brocku.ca. Department of English Language and Literature, April 30, 2008. Web. Feb 14. 2011.
McDonald, Russ. The Bedford companion to Shakespeare. Bedford: St. Martins, 2001. Print.
Shapiro, James. Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2010. Print.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The Authorship of Shakespeare Essay

- Shakespeare was a playwright from Stratford who had arguably the most influential affect on English literature and the English language. His works are still praised to this day for their divine superiority, however, controversy in exceeding amounts has risen over the dispute of his authorship. This controversy has been the topic of many arguments between differently opinionated scholars who support opposing theories and beliefs (Friedman XV). "A difficult dilemma confronts biographers who tell the story of the glove maker's son from Stratford-on-Avon who is supposed to have become the world's greatest poet and dramatist" (Whalen 3)....   [tags: English literature history]

Term Papers
1631 words (4.7 pages)

Essay on The Shakespeare Authorship Debate

- The Shakespeare Authorship Debate Although William Shakespeare is considered to be one of the most revered and well-renowned authors of all time, controversy surrounds the belief that he actually produced his own literary works. Some rumors even go so far as to question the reality of such a one, William Shakespeare, brought on by paralleling the quality of his pieces with his personal background and education. With such farfetched allegations, it persuaded others to peek into the person we all are taught to learn as “Shakespeare”, but who is actually the person behind these genius works of literary promise and enlightenment....   [tags: Shakespearean Literature ]

Term Papers
1616 words (4.6 pages)

Everyone and No One: Jorge Luis Borges and Shakespeare Essay

- “I am not sure that I exist, actually. I am all the writers that I have read, all the people that I have met, all the women that I have loved; all the cities that I have visited, all my ancestors . . . Perhaps I would have liked to be my father, who wrote and had the decency of not publishing. Nothing, nothing, my friend; what I have told you: I am not sure of anything, I know nothing . . . Can you imagine that I do not even know the date of my death?” (“Borges-Quotations”) The work of Jorge Luis Borges has been the subject of much literary criticism and research....   [tags: Literary Analysis ]

Term Papers
1767 words (5 pages)

The Believe that William Shakespeare wrote the Works Attributed to Him Essay example

- It was found in a survey by Education Life, that the overwhelming majority of Shakespearean professors believe that William Shakespeare of Stratford-on-Avon wrote the works attributed to him, and do not believe there is a strong argument disproving his authorship (Niederkorn 1). This conclusion comes from numerous sources and pieces of evidence, one of the most important being the First Folio, the complete collection of Shakespeare’s works published in 1623. The First Folio gives essential information about the identity of the author, a name, face, date of death, and hometown, and informs the public that that he was an actor whom at least two earls knew of....   [tags: stratford upon avon, shakespeare, first folio]

Term Papers
949 words (2.7 pages)

Essay about Shakespeare Authorship Controversy

- Shakespeare, the man who wrote 37 plays and more than a hundred sonnets, is known throughout the world. Many people consider him one of the best English playwrights of our time, others say that he was a genius. William Shakspere was born in Stratford-upon Avon in 1564 and died in 1616 at the age of 52. In the mid-19th century, questions had arisen about the Shakespeare authorship controversy, and many scholars wondered whether Shakspere, the man from Stratford, wrote the plays. Ralph W. Emerson once said, ?I can not ?marry....   [tags: William Shakespeare]

Term Papers
1490 words (4.3 pages)

Shakespeare Authorship Controversy Essay

- John and Mary Arden Shakespeare gave birth to William Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-Avon on April 23, 1564. William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright and his works are known throughout the world. There are no official records of William Shakespeare's actually birth but it has been said that he was the fourth child out of the Shakespeare’s eight children. Shakespeare supposedly attended the best grammar school in Stratford around the age of five but there are also no official records to prove when exactly he started his education....   [tags: Historical Mystery, English Literature]

Term Papers
1344 words (3.8 pages)

Doubt Of Shakespeares Authorship Of His Plays Essay

- Doubt of Shakespeare's Authorship of His Plays Over the years, various persons have expressed doubt as to the authorship of William Shakespeare. These doubts are as old as his plays. American author, Henry James once said, "I am haunted by the conviction that the divine William is the biggest and the most successful fraud ever practiced on a patient world. (Hoffman 27) On the other hand, author Calvin Hoffman was convinced that Shakespeare was "the author of the most magnificent English dramatic prose and poetry ever written....   [tags: essays research papers]

Term Papers
2391 words (6.8 pages)

Shakespeare - Authorship Essay

- In 1564, a man was born by the name of William Shakespeare. He was born to a poor family, was given little education, and had no interaction with sophisticated society. Thirty-eight plays and over 150 sonnets are not attributed to this ignorant man. Those who believe that Shakespeare was the author have no definitive proof but instead point to Hamlet’s declaration: "The play’s the thing(Satchell 71)." The true author, however, lies hidden behind he name of Shakespeare. Edward de Vere the premier Earl of Oxford is not only considered a great poet in history, but he may also be the great playwright who concocted the sonnets and plays which are now attributed to William Shak...   [tags: essays research papers]

Term Papers
1790 words (5.1 pages)

Who really wrote shakespeares work Essay

- Who really wrote Shakespeare's works. One of the most well-known writers in history is also one of the most controversial writers. William Shakespeare has been credited to thirty-eight plays, but did he actually write all of them. The debate whether he wrote all of his plays has been debated for generations. One of the main reasons was if his education level was high enough to be a world-famous writer. But if Shakespeare didn't write his works, then who did. One of the most controversial and accused writers was Sir Francis Bacon....   [tags: essays research papers]

Term Papers
765 words (2.2 pages)

Authorship debate Essay

- William Shakespeare’s works being just that is a notion most accept; however, there has been a lot of evidence and arguments by historians, who opt to challenge this notion, arguing that Shakespeare was the pen name of Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford had to conceal his authorship for social and political reasons. After careful examination of historian’s evidence this theory doesn’t measure up and it was indeed Shakespeare, who was the genuine author. The world has come to accept that William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, during the year of 1564....   [tags: essays research papers]

Term Papers
1603 words (4.6 pages)