By Jove! O Lord! Tut tut! What the Dickens! But me no buts!
Let’s kick this off with an incredible but short video that demonstrates very eloquently how 16th Century Bard, William Shakespeare, has become so ingrained in our lives.
Did you know that Shakespeare used around 29,000 different words to pen 37 plays 154 sonnets. Impressive? Well as it turns out it is pretty average. A college educated person can have a vocabulary as large as 80,000. Shakespeare never attended college.
What that tells me is that you, or I, have the power to be Shakespeare.
What little we know of his life is that he blazed his own path and was quite the entrepreneur. Born the son of a glovemaker, farmer, and once Mayor of Stratford upon Avon, William married Anne Hathaway at 18 and had three children one of whom died at age 11. He perhaps moved to London in the late 1580’s to start a career as an actor in theatre. He did most of his writings in the 1590’s, and in 1599 set up the largest open-air amphitheater, the Globe. His Company, The Lord Chamberlain’s Men changed it’s name to The King’s Men when King James became it’s patron in 1603. Shakespeare died, age 52, in 1616.
His lack of higher education has led some to speculate to this day whether or not in fact Shakespeare did author his plays, or was it perhaps someone like Christopher Marlowe. On the 30th May 1593, Marlowe who was then England’s most popular playwright, was found dead on a street in the suburbs of London. Coincidence that Shakespeare shoots to fame shortly thereafter? Marlowe, the Cambridge scholar, was certainly better equipped to pen masterpieces. Shakespeare would no doubt have studied Greek and Latin at school, but it is unlikely he could speak French and Italian, languages he must have known to have written his plays. Marlowe on the other hand was a Cambridge scholar, and also well versed in European languages having spent time in France.
Conspiracy theories aside, William Shakespeare’s works are the most quoted works of English literature.
Will we ever see the likes of Shakespeare again?
We have unprecedented access to knowledge. We are better educated. We have tools to write, format, publish. The odds are likely. But can you name a modern day counterpart? Do you know any author who could pen a 5 minute soliloquy that is a fraction as compelling as Richard III “Now is the winter of our discontent”, or King Lear’s “Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!”
Is it perhaps that the unbridled access to knowledge – knowledge at our fingertips, has handicapped our imagination and thwarted our creativity. Is it that the technology of media is so advanced, so visceral that the use of visual effects, props, lighting has taken away our focus on the written word?
I leave you with the brilliant Ralph Fiennes playing Richard III “I can add colours to the chameleon”
And finally Damian Lewis as Antony in Julius Ceasar “Friends, Romans, countrymen”
Just remember, “even if you bid me good riddance and send me packing, if you wish I was dead as a door-nail, if you think I am an eyesore, a laughing stock, the devil incarnate, a stony-hearted villain, bloody-minded or a blinking idiot, then - by Jove! O Lord! Tut tut! For goodness' sake! What the dickens! But me no buts! - it is all one to me, for you are quoting Shakespeare.”
Dean Owen is Co-Founder of Quimojo, a revolutionary new concept in Global Campus Recruitment.