The reason I hate the “Shakespeare didn’t actually write Shakespeare” theories so much is they seem to be inherently rooted in taking his works away from ordinary people. “The son of a glovemaker could never have written these plays! Surely only an Aristocratic Intellectual, like the Earl of Oxford, could be responsible!"
Honestly fuck off. Shakespeare was one of us. His plays were written for the masses. He was an ordinary man who captured the voice of the people and the depths of their emotions. We credit Shakespeare with making up words and phrases, but who’s to say he wasn’t writing down what he heard on the streets? "But something as complex as Hamlet could never have been written by Shakespeare! It must have been the work of a nobleman!” Well guess what, not only did he write it, but he wrote it because that’s what his audience liked. The hordes of ordinary people consumed his deeply philosophical play about a young man musing over life and death and sin and they LOVED it.
Shakespeare was a crowd-pleaser and an entertainer, and reason his work is so beautiful and poetic and philosophical (as well as bloody and sexual!) is because he was responding to popular demand. Most people attending the theatre were illiterate; they consumed literature by listening, and this is one of the reasons why playwrights utilised iambic pentameter and rhyming schemes. Their dialogue is poetry, and it’s beautiful to listen to. The first time Romeo and Juliet meet, their shared dialogue creates a sonnet. Imagine a commoner sitting in the crowd listening to that, and it hits him like an arrow, wow, listen to the way these characters speak, this is love at first sight.
Shakespeare was an ordinary man, and the beauty and complexity of his works were fuelled largely by the appetite of ordinary people. Although plays could be written and performed for the aristocracy, it was the hordes at the theatres that one had to keep happy. This modern obsession with putting him on a pedestal and trying to make him high culture or inaccessible to ordinary people is just gross. This upstart crow will always be one of us, and his work will always be for us.