I watched a movie yesterday. It is called ‘Anonymous’. It is a pseudo-historical political thriller which basically strives to convince the audience that “Shakespeare was a ghost. A cipher..” It postulates that Shakespeare had no more than a grammar school education and left no manuscript in his will. It suggests that the plays were actually written by Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford who could not publish them under his own name since writing poetry and creating plays were seen as sinful and seditious in most puritanical noble households.
This article does not deal with the incredulous conjecture which as depicted would not fail to convince the viewer of its authenticity. I would simply deal with the torment of an artistic mind and soul when the fruits of its labour are harvested and tasted by someone else, especially the one he/she does not hold in a high regard.
The soul strives to create in order to leave a mark for itself in a world where conformity rules the uninitiated. The soul of a creator craves adulation and glory. Much mightier battles are fought with words than with swords, since swords leave a trail of blood and fear along with a few medals of decoration whereas words leave behind a mark on the soul.
Just as the soul of a creator can be thrust into agony when he does not receive any admiration for it’s worth, it can be equally torn into pieces when it has to remain a silent spectator in the scheme of things while the world celebrates “the ghost” who bears the name of his creations.
The movie deals with Shakespeare, but his case is not the only one of its kind. Several revelations appear and disappear periodically. But the fact remains, “If the ghost was celebrated then, he will be celebrated forever”.
Another interesting point that the movie had raised was how writing plays were considered a sin during the reign of Elizabeth 1. It was considered as the work of one who was possessed and the writers were punished accordingly. The fact was it was simply to forestall any anti-ruler sentiments in the minds of the common people who could be easily influenced by the plays being enacted and since writers use a variety of tools in their methods of writing, people could read between the lines and hence a widespread resentment can be caused. But, since the Queen loved the arts and encouraged the written word, much to the annoyance of her councilors; the theaters flourished and soon became a widespread means of entertainment and information.
Writers throughout the ages, have surrounded themselves with the aura of anonymity for the fear of persecution. Though this notion is no longer prevalent in today’s world, some writers still continue to do so as the societal/religious pressures override the freedom of expression.