Was Shakespare or Wasn’t Shakespeare the writer of the greatest works in English literature?

shakespeare-faceoffBy this time you have learnt pretty many things about Shakespeare and the Elizabethan time. There is a recent film that raises the issue some scholars around the world are debating, namely that Shakespeare’s works were not all written by him. I personally do not believe in this theory, yet I think it is fascinating to realize how deeply mysterious the life of the great Bard still is and it discloses how passionate people can get about the question of Shakespeare’s identity. Moreover it highlights another important aspect you have investigated with other teachers: history is never objective. What we find in history books is tinted with different subjective elements: who selects the sources to be published, what documents are used, what artefacts are not known or are still hidden to us.
“Nobody will ever know what really went on then,” the filmmaker Mr. Emmerich said. “But certain things are very hard to explain, like how this commoner wrote these 36 — or some say 38 — plays”.

Anonymous_2011_film_posterWatch the trailer. Why is the film entitled Anonymous then?

Emmerich’s film, Anonymous, argues that the greatest plays in the English language were not written by William Shakespeare. Rather, they were the secret work of a nobleman, Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford. Shakespeare of Stratford, he proposes, became Oxford’s frontman (main figure) in history’s greatest literary scam (fraud/dishonest plan).

111102_fakespeareShakespeare_trial_1916Was Shakespeare a fraud? Weigh the evidence on both sides of the authorship debate with this study guide to the film Anonymous.

On October 28, 2011, the movie Anonymous opened: it flopped (was unsuccessful) at the box office, but there was considerable discussion of the film at the time. William Shakespeare is a character in the movie, but the central character is Edward de Vere, the 17th earl of Oxford, who is the real author of the works commonly attributed to William Shakespeare (an argument called the Oxfordian Theory) and who was the incestuous lover of Elizabeth I (a twist known in academic circles as the Prince Tudor Theory Part II). These Oxfordians are convinced of the fact that Shakespeare’s works could never have been written by a mere middle-class person like Shakespeare himself, only a nobleman (an Earl), a noble soul, could possibly have done it. Alternative candidates for the “real” Shakespeare have numbered the Cambridge-schooled Christopher Marlowe (who also happens to have been killed before the greatest of Shakespeare’s plays appeared) and the philosopher–statesman Francis Bacon. But the hottest candidate for some time has been the Earl of Oxford, himself a patron of dramatists, a courtier-poet of middling (average) talent, and an adventurer who was at various times banished from the court and captured by pirates.

There is, of course, no reason to credit the earl with even one line of any work that has traditionally been attributed to William Shakespeare: not a shred of documentary evidence has ever been found that connects de Vere to any of the plays or poems. Perhaps the greatest obstacle facing de Vere’s supporters is that he died in 1604, before 10 or so of Shakespeare’s plays were written. John Shakespeare was indeed illiterate. But his son William was not, as we know incontrovertibly from no fewer than six surviving signatures in Shakespeare’s own flowing hand, the first from 1612, when he was giving evidence in a domestic lawsuit. By the time he was 13 or so, Shakespeare would have read (in Latin) works by Terence, Plautus, Virgil, Erasmus, Cicero, and probably Plutarch and Livy too. How could Shakespeare have known all about kings and queens and courtiers? By writing for them and playing before them over and over again—nearly a hundred performances before Elizabeth and James, almost 20 times a year in the latter case. His plays were published in quarto from 1598 with his name on the page. The notion that the monarchs would have been tricked into thinking he was the true author, when in fact he wasn’t, beggars belief (is unbelievable). The greatness of Shakespeare is precisely that he did not conform to social type—that he was, in the words of the critic William Hazlitt, “no one and everyone.” He didn’t need to go to Italy because Rome had come to him at school and came again in the travels of his roaming mind. His capacity for imaginative extension was socially limitless too: reaching into the speech of tavern tarts (prostitutes) as well as archbishops and kings. As Hazlitt beautifully and perfectly put it, “He was just like any other man, but … he was like all other men. He was the least of an egotist that it was possible to be. He was nothing in himself, but he was all that others were, or that they could become.” What matters is what Shakespeare wrote, not who he was.


The case for Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, dates from 1920, when J. Thomas Looney, an English writer who loathed democracy and modernity, argued that only a worldly nobleman could have created such works of genius; Shakespeare, a glover’s son and money-lender, could never have done so. Looney also showed that episodes in de Vere’s life closely matched events in the plays. His theory has since attracted impressive supporters, including Sigmund Freud, the Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia and his former colleague John Paul Stevens, and Mr. Emmerich.

Harvard Shakespeare scholar Stephen Greenblatt once compared Oxfordianism to Holocaust denial and lamented this in a letter to the Times several years ago:

The idea that William Shakespeare’s authorship of his plays and poems is a matter of conjecture and the idea that the “authorship controversy” be taught in the classroom are the exact equivalent of current arguments that “intelligent design” be taught alongside evolution. In both cases an overwhelming scholarly consensus, based on a serious assessment of hard evidence, is challenged by passionately held fantasies whose adherents demand equal time. The demand seems harmless enough until one reflects on its implications. Should claims that the Holocaust did not occur also be made part of the standard curriculum?

And if Oxfordianism is not exactly the literary equivalent of Holocaust denial, it’s not entirely harmless, either. Inevitably, a few people will end up denying themselves the pleasures and rewards of reading and rereading Shakespeare’s works for the thrilling iambic pentameter and instead opt to read for “clues” pointing to the mind-rotting conspiracy theory.

Anonymous is a drama set in the Elizabethan era, it boldly questions the authorship of Shakespeare’s works. In doing so, it prompts consideration of the intersection of art and politics and the role of the artist in society. Lots of scholars reacted negatively to this film. Do you think this movie confuses students or make Shakespeare more interesting to them? Try to support your views.

James Shapiro wrote the following criticism to the film. How do you respond to it?

The most troubling thing about “Anonymous” is not that it turns Shakespeare into an illiterate money-grubber. It’s not even that England’s virgin Queen Elizabeth is turned into a wantonly promiscuous woman who is revealed to be both the lover and mother of de Vere. Rather, it’s that in making the case for de Vere, the film turns great plays into propaganda.(“Hollywood Dishonors the Bard”, October 16, 2011, The New York Times, The Opinion Pages)

Ron Rosenbaum in his article “10 Things I Hate About Anonymous”, points out

  1. Shakespeare translated and composed verse in Latin, he attended a grammar school in Stratford.
  2. The movie has many historical distortions such as having “Shakespeare’s company” put on a production of Richard III to support the insurgency of Lord Essex. It is well-established that the play the real Shakespeare’s company actually put on during that insurgency was Richard II, not Richard III. Richard II is about a deposition of a sitting monarch.
  3. Shakespeare was well known as a playwright. To quote the great scholar Brian Vickers: “We have a huge number of allusions [to Shakespeare], both laudatory and envious, from fellow-writers and others in the London theatre-world who knew him well; an almost continuous series of references from 1592 to his death in 1616, all of which identify him as both actor and author.”
  4. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a highly sophisticated, intricately woven meditation on the nature of love and sex and in Anonymous, we are informed that the play was written by an 11-year-old (the future Earl of Oxford)!
  5. The fact that Oxford died in 1604 has always been troublesome for the Oxfordians, since someone calling himself Shakespeare continued to write plays until 1612. Most scholars agree that Shakespeare wrote a dozen plays, including some of his most profound later works—Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus, The Winter’s Tale, and The Tempest—after Oxford was dead. Did Oxford somehow emanate them from beyond the grave?

So if Anonymous may be defined as “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing” because it supports the bogus theory that Shakespeare never wrote the works he is renowned for, why watching it?

So who’s right in the authorship dogfight? Those casting doubt on the Stratford man point out that there is no original manuscript in his handwriting and only six shaky examples of his signature. Equally, his will doesn’t mention the 37 plays. On the other hand there are lots of scholars that claim there’s a mass of documentary evidence to prove the genuine authorship. Then historians pointed out that the Thames wasn’t frozen in 1603 and Elizabeth’s funeral is well documented as being on land.

What conclusion have you come to, if any, after this short analysis?

Watch the following video. What did Shakespeare’s “fans” do to protest against the film Anonymous? Do you think Shakespeare would like the film Anonymous? Why (not)?

A famous scholar of Shakespeare mentions why the idea that Shakespeare did not write his works is just looney. What information do you learn from him you did not know of before?

I would love to end this “controversial” post with a quotation of James Shapiro, Shakespeare Scholar at Columbia University and author of Contested Will:
The premise of Anonymous is that Shakespeare didn’t write his plays, the Earl of Oxford did, even though he died before ten of the plays were written. If you were teaching in a high school, and your students asked you, “Who wrote Shakespeare?” how would you respond?
First, I’d urge those students to think hard about what’s at stake in that question. Then I’d suggest that if they are really interested in the authorship controversy, to investigate it further to their own satisfaction, and to acquaint themselves with scholarship on the subject (and I mean scholarship, arguments grounded in evidence, not surmise or fantasy—Contested Will has an extensive “Bibliographical Essay.”
But my real advice to any high school student is to read the plays (especially aloud, with friends), go see as many productions as possible, and take the plunge and act in them as well. Shakespeare was an actor, and there is no better way to understand why they were written by a man of the theater than by performing the plays and seeing performances of them. (source: http://www.folger.edu)

SO ENJOY SHAKESPEARE. I hope he hill SHAKE and not SPEAR you!

If you want to investigate more, look at this nice prezi presentation.

or browse this page:

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44 Responses to Was Shakespare or Wasn’t Shakespeare the writer of the greatest works in English literature?

  1. Beatrice Silvestrin says:

    The film ” Anonymous” is an interesting and open-minded movie. As the title says, this film gives us an enigma: is William Shakespeare the author of the most famous plays written in the Elizabethan age? This film make us undestrand that some people do not think so.
    It is true that certain thinkgs about Shakespeare are very mysterious and these things make some people sceptical in believing in him. For example, he had only a grammar school education and he came from a small village where he did not have the possibily to know all the things that he wrote in his plays. In addition to this, the letters he wrote to his wife were not written as well as a writer should wrote them. So, os he the real writer?
    Personally, I do not think that he was not the author of these plays and I think that watch this film, after studied Will, can make us reflect and study Shakespeare with an open mind and with more interest and important as studing it! Because mysteries can involve poeple a lot.
    So, watching the film afeter studied the real story of Shakespeare and his plays can be very interesting. Instead, if people watch itw before they study all the Elizabethan period, the film can be an obstacle because people can become reluctant in believing in the real story presented to us in our books.
    In conclusion, people who are “funs” of Shakespeare were not so happy with this representation of their idol and they protested against the film “Anonymous” covering every symbol of the writer in Stratford-Upon-Avon. However, I think that Will, as the sarcastic person he was, would like this film also because, in my opinion, he loved to create mystery making people curious.

  2. Erica Corazza says:

    In my opinion the film is entitled “Anonymous” because we don’t know exactly who wrote the thirty-seven plays that we are used to consider as Shakespeare’s works. It’s all a mystery. There are a lot of things that can lead us to think that he didn’t write the plays and maybe they were written by Edward De Vere, or someone else, but there are even a lot of things that let us think the opposite.
    “Anonymous” is a great film because it leads people to reflect. Everyone has his/her own mind, so maybe this film can’t be appreciated by all people. However, after seeing the film, some students may be more curious and more motivated to study Shakespeare because they want to discover the great works in depth and the thoughts of this mysterious man that are hidden in them.
    I agree with critics like Ron Rosenbaum, most of all when she claims that “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” was written by an 11-year-old. But how can a young boy be experts of love and sex? It is almost impossible. But there isn’t only negative criticism because I must also say that the scriptwriters were very good because they have reproduced 16th-century London very well. I would also like to say that “Anonymous” may be defined as “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”, but it must be seen because at school we study Shakespeare’s plays, sonnets and poems, implying that he wrote them himself, but perhaps it isn’t so.
    I think that if Shakespeare could watch this film he would be happy if he weren’t the true author, but he would be angry if he actually wrote them and some people don’t believe it and they give credits to Edward De Vere.
    In conclusion, only Shakespeare knew the truth.

  3. Pozzi Valentina says:

    The film is entitled “Anonymous”, because as the trailer explained, it is supposed that Shakespeare – although he is considered the most famous author of all the times – didn’t write a single word. This means that all of us have been played; this film wants to show that the writer of 37 plays,154 sonnets and several epitaphs, wasn’t Shakespeare but an anonymous.
    The two authorship debates reveal two different ideas: those who are “Fakespeare” state that a man from the middle-class and without a proper education can’t have written such plays. The others who support Shakespeare defend his autthorship. There are a lot of doubts as regards Shakespeare’s identity as a writer: how could almost 10 plays have been published after Vere’s death (in 1604), who is told to be the real author of these works?
    Shakespeare,or who for him, was able to use both the language of the prostitues and the one of the Church; he didn’t need to visit Italy or to read the classics and get educated , because his greatness and fame don’t lie in what he was, but in what he wrote. The counterpart supports this position.
    In order to deny something or someone’s existence we should have some concrete proofs, otherwise it would be like saying that Holocaust never happened, and this is pure madness.
    I think that it is important watching “Anonymous”, because only through the comparison between two opposite beliefs we can get our interpretaion, whose roots lie in the knowledge and awareness that we reach only by considering both the pros and cons, not only about Shakespeare but about everything.
    Who’s right? It is difficult to say in absolute terms, because everyone believes in his documents and evidence and is prone to defend his own idea; but in my opinion there is an only truth: Shakespeare actually lived and wrote his plays.
    Shakespeare’s fans didn’t protest angrily against the film, they almost ridiculed it by saying that “Anonymous” only tells a story, it’s only a film and not a document and it can even bring some advantages, because people feel curiosity and start going to the theatre more often.
    I think Shakespeare would apprciate this film, because it would make him laugh and he would surely be able to point out the ignorance and jealousy of all the other authors, who will never rich his greatness.

  4. Giorgia Lena says:

    The film is called Anonymous because the real writer of the novels did not want to reveal his name so he signed the papers as ‘Anonymous’, than Shakespeare pretended their were his works and he gained the respect of the theatergoers.
    In the movie Shakespeare is described as a fraud but I don’t think he was, he was just a man who had the incredible talent of writing and lived his dream of becoming a playwright.
    Even if I personally didn’t like the film I think it was interesting watching it so I could understand the point of view of other people; this interpretation of Shakespeare’s life made me understand that some people are so interested in him to make researches and find new theories.
    In my opinion William Shakespeare was the real author of his plays and anyways I don’t think that is important who wrote them, the important thing is that we have them and we can study them, it doesn’t matter who gave us all the words and information that are present in the plays.
    I don’t think that Shakespeare’s ‘fans’ would like it, because this movie gives a wrong image of their favorite author, but I think the William would like because we know that he was a peculiar person and I think he would laugh a lot watching it.

    • cristianaziraldo says:

      Shakespeare had a sense of humour (you will see it as soon as we start analysing his plays) and matered irony (we saw it with its sonnets), these ingredients can make us think that he would be entertained by this film, you are right.

  5. Laura Manzan says:

    The film is entitled Anonymous because we don’t know if Shakespeare really existed and if he didn’t we don’t know who wrote the plays. In the film infact William only set the plays and the plays were written by Edward de Vere. In my opinion William Shakespeare really existed because there are too many evidences that assert his existence and why remember the existence of a common man? Moreover I don’t believe that De Vere wouldn’t have said a word while William was becoming famous and rich thanks to the plays of Edward. I think this film confused students; personally if someone told me that Shakespeare didn’t exist I wonder “why should I study the plays of somebody that didn’t exist?”. Moreover the plot was very difficult to understand because of the continue flashbacks and there were too many characters. I agree with James Shapiro, obviously not only De Vere knew of the fraud of William so why nobody talked? In my opinion watch Anonymous it is useful to know the things that happened in London(for example how people lived) and what happened in the court, but I don’t think that is useful to learn something about Shakespeare because it only confuses you. I think that the theory that affirmed that William existed is right, because I don’t think that steal the plays of somebody else was a priority at the time. London was a city with a lots of poor people and have a job like an actor was a fortune, I don’t think that William were so stupid to risk to got the sack. Against the film the fans of Shakespeare covered up some monuments in his honour. I don’t think William would like the film because it represents him like a fraud and if he really wrote his plays I don’t think he would be happy about it. I didn’t know that there is a monument of Shakespeare.

  6. Deborah D'Angelo says:

    The film is entitled “Anonymous” because, to the director’s mind, Shakespeare isn’t the true author of all the sonnets correlated to him, so the real author is “anonymous”, because nobody knows who is he. There are some aspects that could make us think that Shakespeare couldn’t write all those great and immortal poems, but all the different theories bring us to him, even if around the 1920 existed a particular theory that explained how impossible was for Shakespeare write that kind of poems, according to his social background. To the film director Shakespeare was a fraud, because in his opinion, the real author of these sonnets is Edward de Vere. He supports that Shakespeare wasn’t able to write so important poems, being an illiterate glovers’ makers’ son. But we know that Shakespeare wasn’t illiterate and de Vere died many years before Shakespeare’s works, so this is a half truth; but personally I believe that was Shakespeare the real author of the sonnets, because I love his intriguing story. Another relevant point, which I support, is contained in this sentence: “What matters is what Shakespeare wrote, not who he was”. I agree with this statement because we are interested in his poems and the feelings held in them, not in who wrote them: even if Shakespeare’s wife wrote these sonnets they’d be great. Although all these theories could be false and easily rebutted, I think it’s interesting watch a film like “Anonymous”, because it opens our minds and, maybe, it changes our opinions, because it offers a totally different point of view. I don’t think that this film confuses us (students) because we know that it’s just a film and in it there’s the director’s opinion, not ours: it’s up to us think if we agree or not with the film maker, so watch this movie just offers us a different idea of Shakespeare. Personally, I believe that Shakespeare really existed because there are so many proofs of his existence and because I think that he was born with a talent for writing and not just for be a scriptwriter. Edward de Vere could be just a minor playwriter, jealous of Shakespeare fame. There are even other reasons that make us understand that Oxfordian theory isn’t reliable, so Shakespeare is worthy of his works. I think Shakespeare wouldn’t like the film because it’s all against his worthiness: if he was alive I think he would write a poem against who takes another person’s worth, and the film director would say sorry to him. But it isn’t a problem: Shakespeare’s fans protected him: they protested saying that “Anonymous” is a tentative to rewrite English History, disregarding historical facts. They added that Shakespeare is symbol and exportation product of the whole England. Finally I agree with Shapiro because I don’t believe in Oxfordian theory and there are so many signes that bring us directly to the great bard: Shakespeare.

  7. Chiara Tosi says:

    I personally don’t think Shakespeare was a fraud. Even if we don’t know if he really wrote all his plays, we know for sure he had been a known playwright.
    And how can we explain he his dubbed as the most important author of English literature if we think he didn’t exist? If we deny Shakespeare’s existence, we deny English literature.
    I liked “Anonymous”, it develops an interesting and involving plot and I really liked the sceneries and the way it is organized. It is useful for who wants to understand something more of the Elizabethan period.
    I think that movies like Anonymous confuse a bit us as students. I personally had some difficulties to understand who was whom and the big number of flashbacks made me a bit confused. Maybe because I had already studied Shakespeare’s life and I expected to see a movie that treated his true story.
    I agree with Shapiro’s statement because it seems that the film director didn’t have respect for Shakespeare’s private and social life. He minimized his works and didn’t care a lot about what story tells us. He invented a new story basing on a theory that is not true to what historically happened, so you have to take it with a pinch of salt because he is telling the story through the eyes of the Oxfordian, not from the objective point of view.
    And this is a problem most of all for the people that don’t know so much about Shakespeare’s life and watching this movie could make a negative and wrong idea of him. For this reason I think you have to watch it after reading some of his works, and studying his life. The good aspect of watching this movie is that you can have an idea of how was London like in Shakespeare’s time, the relationship and the behavior of the Queen and you can understand how Oxfordian thought.
    Then, as with all the things, we have to be careful about what we see and catch its positive but also negative aspects.

    • cristianaziraldo says:

      Happy to read you like the movie, because it is considered to be very controversial. As a matter of fact lots of your classmates did not particularly like it. Some claim they were puzzled by the many falshbacks.

  8. Anna Borin says:

    What human being would give his value to another person? I think that nobody would do this. Let’s suppose that the plays were not written by Shakespeare, but by a different person. In my opinion, when the plays became famous he wanted to let people know that the author of these masterpieces is him, not someone else. Every person would do so. Then, if wasn’t Will to write these plays and sonnet, what tell us that the real author is a man like Edward De Vere? I mean, in Elizabethan period men had lots of rights and they could act and write; so even more could be a woman the real author, maybe she had a lots of ideas and inspirations and she wanted to show to the community her talent, but it was forbidden to female, so she had to find a cover. But I think that even in this case the secret would come to light. So I think that Shakespeare is the real and magnificent author and I disagree with the plot of the film “anonymous”. Yes… we don’t have to believe to all the things that we read in books, rather we have to pay attention and believe only to some things. This film didn’t make me reflect about the fact that the author could be someone else, even because I didn’t understand all the passages, and sometimes I confused the characters. Speaking about the film, I think that the plot was too puzzling and flashbacks were not helpful. Finally in my opinion, Shakespeare was a great author and, nowadays, people want to wreck him, maybe to let others know that they are doing a breathless discover and so to become famous.

    • cristianaziraldo says:

      So the real Shakespeare could have been a woman? Interesting point. Whoever, whatever, we are lucky enough we can read great works by someone called Shakespere, aren’t we?

  9. Luca says:

    “Anonymous” directed by Roland Emmerich is a film about the real existence of William Shakespeare, one of the most famous writers in the world. The movie is entitled like this because raises an issue: did Shakespeare personally wrote all of his plays or was he only a sort of mask for the real author of these plays?
    The film affirms that Shakespare wasn’t an aristocratic, so he wasn’t as intelligent as others kinds of people, as like as the aristocratics. But we know that William went to a Grammar school in Stratford-upon-Avon, the city where he bwas born.
    This one is only an example of this film is contraddictory to what we know about the writer, so it’s difficult tu impose which one of these affermations is the right one or no.
    I didn’t like the film not only for this contraddiction to what we call “reality”, but also because it’s full of flashbacks and so it’s really hard to understand all the plot of the film (in fact I searched into the Internet the plot).
    In conclusion I can state that there’s no right and no wrong, but there are two different suppositions that contrast each other.

    • cristianaziraldo says:

      Is there any aspect of the film that you appreciated? It is intersting that like other classmates of yours you were put off by the use of flashbacks. I thought you would love this technique, whereas I was wrong.

  10. Sonia Bruccoleri says:

    The film is entitled Anonymous because we don’t really know if was Shakespeare the writer of all these works and significally i won’t ever say that it would represent “a tale told by an idiot”. It is truth that the film has some mistakes, but it wasn’t made to be a documentary so we don’t have to look this part but try to understand the real meaning of the film that shows us a total different view of the person that we know as Shakespeare.
    Personally i agree with the meaning of this film. Of course i don’t rule out the fact that he couldn’t do it, but i’m more inclined to believe that was a nobleman or someone else that had the chance to learn all the things that were written in the works. I think that for some people is more easier thinking that was Shakespeare the writer. Obviously everyone has an own opinion about all this story, but we have to accept also this possibility because is a part of the mistery and this is the thing that fascinate us.
    Well, this is only my opinion, after all nobody knows what happened and maybe we’ll never know it.

    • cristianaziraldo says:

      It is not clear what you mean when you write “Personally i agree with the meaning of this film”. You did not mention what the meaning of the film is to you, so…
      Did you like the movie? Why (not)?

  11. Claudia Lavopa says:

    I think that Emmerich entitled the film ‘Anonymous’ because he wanted to point out his idea: Shakespeare did not write all his plays and poems, Edward de Vere did.
    I don’t think that Shakespeare was a fraud, in my opinion he wrote all the 37 plays, he wasn’t an illiterate man and so he was certainly able to write them.
    I also think that Edward de Vere did not write the poems and the plays because there aren’t documents that prove that he was the ‘real’ writer.
    I think that this film could confuse students because maybe they can doubt on everything they read about Shakespeare and also be confused by many historical distortions that are in the film; but this film can arouse them to discover the truth.
    I agree with James Shapiro, I think that Oxfordians wanted to persuade everybody with their theory and so they create Anonymous. Even if in this film they change a lot of things I think we should all watch it because we should accept different ideas that we may not agree with but these ideas can make us reflect about Shakespeare’s mysterious life. Maybe some people after watching it changed their mind and they agreed with Oxfordians and others now are firmly sure that Shakespeare writes all the 37 plays.
    I think that we won’t ever know the truth, we can just side with the theory we imagine is correct. There will always be someone who thinks that Edward De Vere is the real writer and others will think that Shakespeare is the genius who invented and wrote all the plays and poems.
    I think that Shakespeare would not like this film because he was represented like a fraud and I also think that he would feel like everybody has made fun of him.
    My idea is that we should read, find information and try to know as much as possible about this man that confuse but fascinate all of us.

    • cristianaziraldo says:

      I think that the best way to get to know what Shekespeare was really like is to read his works and ejnoy them.

  12. Alessia Giordano says:

    We are used to thinking that Shakespeare is the genius of all time because of his relevance in the English language enclosed in all his works, from the sonnets to the plays.
    The film “Anonymous” deals with the Oxfordian theory and it also supports it because it makes us think over the figure of Shakespeare.
    According to the film and to the Oxfordians,Shakespeare never wrote a single word; in fact, it is difficult to believe that Shakespeare didn’t attend university or had only a grammar school education; as we can see in his works, he probably gathered information from some books which helped him a lot.
    But then…..How could he have coined more than 3’000 words that we also use nowadays? How could he have revolutionized the English language? Of course we can’t answer to this mysterious questions because we can only tackle this reposing on the sources we have and not necessarily they might be plausible because they aren’t always objective: someone else can interpret things differently from the reality.
    The film is entitled “Anonymous” because it underlines something mysterious, unknown and different from that Shakespeare we know from our studies and maybe something that we will never find out on him.
    Saying this, the Oxfordians claim that Shakespeare was a fraud and never wrote anything and they assign all the works attributed to him to an alleged nobleman who was more learned than Shakespare.
    The film supports this view fixing in the center of the plot the character of Edward de Vere, the 17th earl of Oxford, who is the real author of all the works credited to William Shakespare and was the incestuos lover of Elizabeth I.
    In my opinion this might have happened but we can’t be sure about it because we should try to find more reliable sources on this.
    However I don’t think that Shakespeare was a fraud, for me he was really talented and gifted like few people in the world because otherwise he would have never written so many plays and sonnets.
    Personally I don’t like the film “Anonymous”, first of all because there are too many flashbacks that make the film confusing and difficult to understand and then because the plot is a bit unusual and I expected it to be more historical and not to represent the adverse of Shakespeare’s features and works,that’s why I wouldn’t recommend it to a student like me because it isn’t a documentary but a story that arouses sensation.
    I think that we can’t possibly define who’s right in the authorship dogfight, moreover this will always be a mistery for us.
    Finally, as it is said in the video, I think that Shakespeare would like this film because, even if it isn’t historical, it would involve him because it makes a stand-in of him in another circumstance of his “presumed” truth.

  13. toffoli michael says:

    In my opinion the film “Anonymous” is a film that is well done. Saying this i’m not saying that i believe in what the film says. I absolutely believe that all the plays, poems and sonnets were written by William Shakspeare. It isn’t a historical film because this is not a story that really happened. But this is only a hypothesis. The film says that Shakespeare never wrote a single word in his plays. But this is a theory which is supported by the oxfordian.
    Personaly i think that this film can change the vision of Shakespeare that we have, if we don’t know Shakespeare. In fact when i first saw it i thought immediately that and i’m still thinking it.
    We all know that William Shakespeare is the most famous writer in the world and of all time. And if we think this we must believe that Shakespeare wrote all his plays.
    In the film “Anonymous” his most important plays, such as “Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet and Macbeth”, are only stories that are written by Edward the Vere, lord of Oxford. These stories were considered inappropriate and couldn’t be written by and aristocratic and this is the reason why these stories are attributed to Shakespeare.
    For this reason, this theory should explain real and serious arguments, insted of mix historicol facts with the fantasy, and above all should preserve chronological order of the events and particulary of the plays.
    Knowing William Shakespeare, as we know, and the evolution of his plays, it is impossible that his plays were written by lord of Oxford. We also know that some plays of William Shakespaeare are taken by popular stories.
    Also, the oxfordian think that Shakespeare could never go to a grammar school to learn. But we know that Shakespaere wasn’t only the son of a gloves maker, his father sometimes worked as a money-lender. For this reason shakespeare could go to school and learn.
    Although the film doesn’t bring forward the beauty of the plays, make us think about the nature of the human being.
    The film expand on this theme through the private life of Elizabeth I and the multiple flashback that interrupt the story, making difficulties to the viewer to understand the logical sequence of the film.
    In conclusion I say that the film should be watched but after knowing a little bit of Shakespeare. I think that Shakepeare wouldn’t love the film, because all the thing that are mantioned are not true.
    His plays are taken by popular stories that are mixed with his fantasy and also beacuse he was only a normal man, not an aristocratic man, and so he could write this plays full of intrigue, fighting, love, betrayel, revenge, violence, thirst of power, and so on so forth.
    I liked the film because I could watch onather vision of Shakespeare even if I think it is not the real one.

  14. Sara Foresto says:

    I think the film is entitled “Anonymous” because some historian think that Shakespeare was the author of the plays although others think that was de Vere or maybe even someone else like in the film where de Vere was the author and Shakespeare a character of the plays, for this reason the opera is entitled “Anonymous”.
    In my opinion Shakespeare was not a fraud, personally I do not think he stole the works from the earl of Oxford because whereas he was the son of a glove-maker and not a noble, so a “medium person” I think he was humble and that he didn’t do this kind of things. I think that he really wrote the plays.
    If “Anonymous” is only a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury ,signifying nothing, I think that we should watch it to see different opinions of Shakespeare and of Elizabethan period and to not believe only at some “historical sources” because it is also interesting to hear different points of view.
    Since I was not born in the Elizabethan time and so I could not see how things went, I do not want to give judgment in who is right or not but maybe even because I used to think that Shakespeare was the author of the greatest plays in the English language I want to believe that Shakespeare was the foundation to modern literature. I think this, even because Shakespeare with his plays denounces different themes like the court’s scandals and the corruption and if the author of the works was a noble sure he would never write such things because otherwise it would be seen as a form of treason and maybe he would be killed. I think also that Shakespeare wouldn’t like this film because it is a sort of denial, like he wasn’t exists and it is not nice be renegades.
    In my opinion “Anonymous” was good, I found the actors really good, the costumes beautiful and even the story but personally I don’t like it so much because I found it a little bit difficult because of the numerous flashbacks.

    • cristianaziraldo says:

      Most of your classmates mention the fact that the film was a bit difficult to follow because of the use of flashbacks. Does this mean that you prefer stories and thus films with a linear/chronological development?

  15. Anna Borsatti says:

    I love so much literature in general, especially Italian and English. About the last one, I want to say that I’m completely fascinated by Shakespeare and in particular some of his works that I had the pleasure to read and analyze. I think he was and still is a genius , mostly for the fact that he created another world only with words, and this for me is the first thing to excite and capture readers. But honestly, watching the movie anonymous obviously came to my mind many doubts and many hypotheses about. I honestly don’t know where to start from, I am amazed and shocked at the same time, for various reasons. I want to clear right from the start that I firmly believe that Shakespeare wrote his own works. In this movie is introduced the idea-hypothesis on the works of Shakespeare, and in my opinion this is absolutely absurd. I can’t conceive that another person have written the works and therefore Shakespeare did nothing concrete. I’m a bit upset because Nevertheless I still think that the film is interesting from the point of view of the historical setting of the script and everything else. Honestly history can be considered compelling, but not corresponding to reality, even if I can’t say it with absolute certainty. I am a bit ‘shocked because I never thought about this hypothesis. But as I said before I don’t think so. Shakespeare for me is the greatest writer and playwright of all time, and he is the writer of his works, absolutely! There are many points in its favor and in my opinion those opposed are not entirely credible and also unverified. Although there are these different opinions, Shakespeare is and will remain a person of importance to English literature.

    • cristianaziraldo says:

      I agree with you that the film puzzles us and somehow forces us to question something we took for granted. Yet, as you clearly point out, regardless of this Oxfordian theory, we want to keep on believing that the great Bard existed and he was the one who wrote the works that are infusing us with great passion for literature.

  16. Sara Bochin says:

    In my opinion Shakespeare is really existed. We have lots of informations about him, we have his plays with is name on them. About Shakespeare there many theories, and the one that is most discussed is: “Did Shakespeare really existed?”. This question has been pointed out because William was the son of an illeterate family and for that reason he couldn’t write and read; so he couldn’t write the plays. Of course the scholars that have investigated this mistery have considered that he could have gone to school.
    So the only question that is hard to answer is: how possibly can a poor man, son of an illeterate family, whose father sold gloves, become a so great writer? How can he write 37 plays? A hundred sonnets?
    At Elizabethan time there were many famous authors that could wrote those plays. According to the studies, one is the most suspected: the Earl of Oxford. But… The Earl died in 1604. After his death “Shakespeare” kept writing plays. How can somebody explain this?
    The film Anonymous tells and explains this theory, showing to the public a different view of the history that, personally, has left me puzzled. The film answers to all the questions. It open the mind to different points of view. Even if this film has been considered a flopped I think that it’s very useful to understand even more about William Shakespeare.
    “Anonymous” is an interesting title that immediately points out the main problem with Shakespeare.
    We have lots of doubts about him; he could be Shakespeare, de Vere, Bacon… we don’t know. And when somebody’s identity is undefined, we call him “anonymous”.
    This is the name that we should use to refer to him.
    I hope that one day somebody will work the Shakespeare’s mistery out.
    Until that moment I am firmly conviced that he existed and that he was an interesting talented crazy man.

    • cristianaziraldo says:

      As you hint at, Shakespeare’s life is a mystery, but the works attributed to him are definitely the works of a genius!

  17. Alberto says:

    Anonymous is a very debatable film and we can undoubtely say the same for the issue the film is about. I start by saying that personally I’m not sure of any theory about Shakespeare existence because of a simply reason: I’ve not learnt enough about him yet. I’m just sure of one thing: whoever he was, he did a wonderful job because instead of other poems I’ve read, Shakespeare’s works (just knowing a little about him) are great and I’m extremely appreciating them.
    Going back to the main theme, I know there’s some point in Anonymous of we can take exception but I think none can knows who Shakespeare truly was so everyone can just belive in the theory he wants to. I hope this will make change a little bit the negative idea most of people have about this film. It makes Shakespeare’s figure more mistery and it has two different consequences: the first, the positive one, is making people curiosity increase but on the other hand it confuses students’ idea of the author and probably makes studying him harder.
    I think Shakespeare would not like Anonymous much because even if it’s exciting having figure so famous as his one but it’s not historically perfect so he would certainly correct something.
    So, the film is nice and describes a really fascinating figure (the Earl of Oxford) but it is not historically confirmed and it can confuse your ideas unless you have clear ideas about Elizabethan period and you have studied Shakespeare for a rather long time; in that case you can appreciate the artistic side of the film and enjoy it.

    • cristianaziraldo says:

      Thanks for your point. I had not taken it into consideration that the film might confuse you. Quite the opposite. I thought, or better, I believed that it would make your passion for Shakespeare stronger. As you pointed out, the very fact that the film questions Shakespeare’s authorship, makes me want to investigate more and to learn more about this genius.

  18. Chiara M. says:

    The film is entitled Anonymous because it suggests that Shakespeare was a fraud.
    Some scholars called ” The anti – stradtfordians ” think that Shakespeare has never existed and support the fact that all his works were written by other writers like Edward de Vere or Christopher Marlowe.
    They don’t believe also in the fact that a middle – class person from the XVI century could use 29.000 terms in his works!
    They ask themselves how someone could be so clever and where the proves, that show that Shakespeare really existed, are.
    Nobody ,when Shakespeare died, wrote something about him and this sounds particularely negative for ” The anti – stradtfordians “.
    However I support the Shakespeare’s scholars theories.
    First of all there are proves who confirm Shakespeare’s existence like his testament or written depositions made by persons who knew him.
    Second of all Shakespeare wasn’t an ignorant.
    He attended the local grammar school ” King’s new school ” in his city and studied the most important ancient writers in Greek and in Latin ( the school he attended was really hard also because lessons started at 6 : 30 AM and ended at 6 PM ) and he had Latin classes 6 times a week! In my opinion people watch Anonymous ( Even if they think that the film has no sense ) because they’re curious.
    They’re curious to see ” the other version ” ( the one which explain us that Shakespeare was a fraud. )
    I liked the film because it made me ask myself some questions about Shakespeare’s identity but I also think that it was a bit long and it was also a bit complicated to understand. The other things that made me think about the film were ” 10 things I hate about Anonymous ” and I totally agree with the part which says that film directors cut important parts of history and change everything.
    In conclusion If I was the film – director of Anonymous, I’d add those parts to make it more understandable and less muddler.
    Shakespeare’s fans say that Anonymous is a lot of rubbish.
    For example a famous Shakespeare’s scholar says that Edward De Vere wasn’t the son of Queen Elizabeth! If Shakespeare was still alive, he would be amused and he would use his sarcasm with his funny quotes to comment Anonymous .
    (Like “Out of my sight! Thou dost infect my eyes!”)

    • cristianaziraldo says:

      So has the film “infected your eyes” or have you appreciated it? Thanks for your post, convinced supporter of Shakespeare! He would be pround of you! Definitely so!

  19. Anna Pignat says:

    “Anonymous” is an incredibly catching , surprising (and shocking for the ones who knows a little about William Shakespeare) film about the “Oxfordian Theory” witch says that the author of the famous works attributed to William Shakespeare have been written by a nobleman. And that’s the reason of the title “Anonymous”, because Shakespeare was, attending to this point of view, nobody: he was only an idealism, he has never existed. So William Shakespeare was only a name to let the real writer, Edward de Vere the 17th earl of Oxford, anonymous. I’m firmly convinced that Shakespeare wrote all his famous plays and poems but even in you don’t know anything about his life and “Anonymous” has completely convinced you there are same important things to take in consideration. First of all we don’t have any type of documentary evidence that links Edward de Vere to Shakespeare’s works and we know that he died pbefore all the poems have been “published”. And now, knowing that the “real fraud” isn’t Shakespeare but the film, why watching it? I think “Anonymous” is really interesting and instructive, it has realistic costumes and a captivating setting. It makes you understand what was the lifestyle in the Elizabethan period. The plot is compelling, at the beginning it is difficult to understand what is happening because of the flashbacks, but after havig framed the charachters it becames easy to follow andI’ve personally really enjoied it. And why wouldn’t even the real Shakespeare appreciate it? I think he would, he was brilliant and so it’s the film. It goes against him but it is a mysterious and intresting view of the greatest english writer of all times.

    • cristianaziraldo says:

      I do think myself that though the film denies his authorship, his being the writer of the gretest tragedies and comedies in English literature, he would appreciate it. This very denial gives William Shakespeare more visibility and being a man of the theatre, that was certainly his ultimate goal.
      All the world’s a stage,
      And all the men and women merely players.
      They have their exits and their entrances,
      And one man in his time plays many parts,
      His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
      Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
      Then, the whining school-boy with his satchel
      And shining morning face, creeping like snail
      Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
      Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
      Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then, a soldier,
      Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
      Jealous in honour, sudden, and quick in quarrel,
      Seeking the bubble reputation
      Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then, the justice,
      In fair round belly, with a good capon lined,
      With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut,
      Full of wise saws, and modern instances,
      And so he plays his part.
      (from As you Like it)

  20. Carbonera Sofia says:

    The film is entitled “Anonymous” because raises the issue that Shakespeare is only the name that we can find in the works. They think that the real author is a nobleman that, to maintain his reputation, has to be anonymous, because in the Elizabethan time the English court was controlled by puritans which believe that the poetry was indecent.
    I do not believe in this theory but I watched the movie with pleasure because people like Shakespeare are so leading that it’s interesting to invent story to figure in our mind their world.
    I think that Shakespeare wouldn’t appreciate a story that denies his work, his life and makes him a profiteer and a stupid man !
    People protest in Stratford Upon-Avon against this movie, they covered Shakespeare’s name on signs.
    So it’s not a easy film to understand and accept, but I like seeing another view of the story.

    • cristianaziraldo says:

      As you point out, it is mandatory to listen to other people’s stories or view of things. They reinforce our passions and convictions.

  21. Chiara Turchet says:

    Film “ANONYMOUS” by Roland Emmerich

    The history fascinates us for the mysteries that it conceals. We are always researching the absolute truth in things and, also in the history, we would like to respond with certainty to questions we are not able to investigate. The answers we can only have access to are contained in a multitude of words that hand down deeds, heroes, wars, epidemics, myths and tradition. Words are an instrument that conveys the stories of the people of the past we can’t possibly know: they are and they will remain the mediation between past, present and future. We will become words for the future one day, too. And, when our body will be dissolved and only our soul will still be able to hear, we will really understand how we used the unique and precious gift, the strongest weapon: the word. Because words will exist until the last breath, or rather until the end of human existence, as is stated at the end of the film. It won’t matter how we were, where we lived or what was our name, it will only matter the kind of person we were and what we said and given during the story of our life. The proof of this, is one of the greatest minds of art and literature in the world ; the one whose words were remembered and always will live in all of us: the one we call William Shakespeare. And that one, in the Emmerich’s film is called “Anonymous”. Whatever identity had William Shakespeare, for me, it will always remain the Anonymous who wrote poems and playwrights full of stories and intense reflections on the human being. Anonymous is maybe the perfect name to attribute to this man or woman, because he/she had an importance and uniqueness unreachable. I think his/her identity must remain one of the great mystery of the history.
    I really appreciate the film, because I think it honors the identity of the prestigious anonymous and what he wrote and created. I think the director of the film has offered a great boost to all, students and adults to reflect on the figure of this great writer, who has given a lot in terms of human knowledge. I think he was a real master of life who was able to convey to his pupils the passion for his work. In my onion, presenting the figure of Shakespeare as a mystery that has to be revealed, it is even more engaging and interesting, above all for young students who are moved by curiosity to discover the writer and his works.
    In the film, the director used a lot flash backs scenes that sometimes I found dispersive and complexes, but only at the end of the film I understood how important they were for the plot. As I could understand, there are also some misconducts of the historical facts and in the characters, but I found them essential to involve the audience in the story. I really liked the character of Edward de Vere, the 17th earl of Oxford, because he represents a nobleman that, in addition to be a noble, he is also a man that considers writing as an instrument of absolute power, that can accomplish and achieve anything. As a weapon must be used by an expert and should be used at the right time and for a good cause. The Really I don’t know if the author of all those works is the Earl of Oxford, an actor, or a son of a glove maker, and I think that none of these is a fraud or something like that. But, what I’m sure is the importance of the contents that he wrote: his works are rediscovered each time more and more, and the more you dig deeper, the more you continue to know yourself better.
    The true art of writing is to see a dream that comes reality from a paper. In the end, I think the title and the film are not meant to express the true physical identity and the name of who we call William Shakespeare, but the film wants to represent the power of words for any person, whether he is poor, rich or noble. It has no borders or obstacles: it is unattainable, eternal, infinite, immortal, invincible.
    I think Shakespeare would be really proud of the representation he had in the film “Anonymous”.
    I’d like to meet William Shakespeare not only to discover his real identity, but above all to thank and congratulate him for the person he was. Sensitive in excellence and excellent in his sensitivity.

    • cristianaziraldo says:

      A philosophical post indeed, Chiara. I loved reading it and I am quoting you “History fascinates us for the mysteries that it conceals. We are always researching the absolute truth in things and, also in history, we would like to respond with certainty to questions we are not able to investigate.” So history, being highly subjective, is imbued with mystery. This is the reason why we are still fascinated by the identity of William Shakespeare. We cannot know it, yet we keep investigating. As you point out, he was a genius, both of the mind and the soul of human beings, he mastered the English langauge and with the power of words managed to make his views of the world eternal. He understood that whoever “possesses” words, whoever masters a language can have a strong impact on people.

  22. Alexia Toniol says:

    The movie that we watched is entitled Anonymous probably because it is based on the life of one of the Elizabethan aristocrat Edward De Vere,the seventeenth earl of Oxford, lover of poems and dramas. Since Edward was a child he was devoted to theatrical performances, including his first entertainment made to Queen Elizabeth I, who loved them, even if the theater was considered by some aristocrats a subject of the devil.
    According to the films plot the works of Shakespeare that nowadays we know were indeed written by Edward, who remained anonymous for his entire life during the representations of his poems even when some people discovered that the works that everyone thought were written by William, were creations of Edward.
    Edward’s poems were delivered by Ben Jonson, a young and promising poet, to William Shakespeare.
    In my opinion the movie could be true, but also couldn’t. I think that nobody will ever know and it will remain a mystery.I disagree with the movie for many reasons, for example, the reason that it seems impossible that a mere middle-class man could write so many poems such as the ones that we know and it seems more possible that a noble person could ,since we know that William Shakespeare attended school and wasn’t illiterate. Edward died also ten years before the period in which Shakespeare’s plays were written.What if Ben Jonson gave William Edward’s poems after his death?? We will never know. It remains a mystery.
    Watching the movie, in my opinion ,was like a revision of the Elizabethan period so it helps me to remember what I studied. It’s was also interesting to know the opinions of others people who tried to solve the mystery.
    Shakespeare’s fans protest against the movie. I think that Shakespeare, if he is or isn’t the author of the poems that we know, wouldn’t like Anonymous,because nobody likes when others start to talk and investigate about your life.

  23. Beatrice Silvestrin says:

    ROMEO: (coming in front of the stairs of the school with his friends) oh boys, look at that hot chick over there at the end of the stairs in front of the snack machine with long blond hair. She is so beautiful and cool looking that I feel embarrassed to ask her out. She must be mine and no one else’s. I want to take care of her boys (Romeo burps). Look at her curves, all her perfect imperfections. She is so sexy guys I cannot imagine her without clothes. She is lovely. Ohhh…look at her smile, her eyes. She is perfect, boys, a real bomb: Belen would become pale in front of her. She seems so calm and beautiful in all her movements
    JULIET: (speaking with her friend in front of the snack machine) have you seen Romeo the boy in 2°F? He is a real man! It is absurd that his family name could take him away from me, and look at his muscles…(Juliet says softly) he trains four times a week (Juliet leans her hand on her front pretending to faint). (After having taken her snack she stands up and she turns to Romeo) Hi my darling, how are you? I know you love me and I love you too. But look at me…came on! You must not be afraid or embarrassed! Teach me how to play, please baby ignore your name and take me. Think about this: “Montague” Is only a name and it cannot make you as happy as I can (Juliet winks).
    ROMEO: (looking at her astonished) Really?! Oh, Juliet of course I will! Make me happy and I will throw away everything I do not need. You are so beautiful and your eyes are the light day…
    JULIET: (a little annoyed by his lovely words) what eyes? What lips? What smile? Run away with me and I will show you the real light (Juliet giggles).
    ROMEO: (placing a foot on the second step) oh saints help me! This girl is crazy and I love her so much! I will do what you want and I will be yours, my little hot chick.

    “Hamlet” is a play full of references to our contemporary society. In particular, in Hamlet’s speech “to be or not to be” Shakespeare described life as an injustice for human beings. He also pointed out different topics that reflect our own society.

    we live in a society of corruption and injustice, where love is unrequired and where there is political corrution and insolence. but the worst thing of all is that nobody does anything. How can’t we realize all these things, when Shakespeare did?

    we are prisoners of our society. We are the machines of a corrupted world where only the most powerful con enjoy life. We are used to keep rich people powerful. So, as Hamlet says, why should we let this unfair life consume us? Perhaps because we believe in good luck? Nowadays,there are a lot of people who believe in luck. However, we cannot live believing in destiny or in luck. Instead, in my opinion, we should fight for our own ideas. It is true that in our society this is not simple but, in all the poeple rebel, no political force would stand against its country.

    In any case, in life pain is always on the prowl. for this reason, is it better to accept thi life or to commit suicide? what is certainly true is that we can trasform our life as we want, changing the small things if we cannot do it with the big ones.

    In my opinion, we must live day after day, accepting our life and changing it as we want. we must respect what the system imposes but our life depends on our decisions and ourselves.

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