“To Be or Not to Be”

A HAMLET SOLILOQUY

william-shakespeare

Keys to Understanding Shakespeare:

“Writing had been around for millennia and printing for centuries before people got used to thinking of written words as anything more than a preserved form of speech. Literature was dominated by plays and poetry, both of which had been developed for public performance rather than individual contemplation. . . . As long as writing was considered simply a form of recording and dissemination, its limitations were more obvious than its advantages. It provided only the words, not the tone, timing, and gestures, and anyone who could see Chaucer or Shakespeare perform their work would have preferred that to just reading the part of their performances that could be frozen in ink.”

-Elijah Wald

1.)  William Shakespeare was a performing poet. As such, he took joy in language, in speaking words. Hearing their sound. He’d be at home at any open mic spoken word show now.

2.)  He was not a scholar, but part of a working theatre company. A shareholder in it, among a small group of actors who were also entrepreneurs.

William Shakespeare, the man from Stratford, became prosperous from his work with the company. How? Why? This is a question those pushing alternate theories of authorship fail to answer.

It was because he was chief playwright for the company.

3.)  William Shakespeare was a striver, as most geniuses are. He had the drive necessary  to improve his station and his art– putting in long hours practicing it and perfecting that craft, that art.

Can we believe court wastrel Edward de Vere– Earl of Oxford; an artistic dilettante– wrote the plays? No. The notion’s ridiculous, especially when you examine the work de Vere did write, which is oppressively mediocre.

****

In tribute then to the man from Stratford, I present my own rough version of the Bard’s most famous soliloquy, the “To be or not to be” speech– from Hamlet!

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