Here’s a conversation I’ve always wanted to start. When it comes to a great unknown, be it religion or the the lottery or Mr. Shakespeare, I’ve found that I can never truly straddle that line between what I *wish* to be true, and what my logical brain causes me to *believe* is true. I may wish to hit the lottery when I buy a ticket, but I believe that I almost certainly will not.
I’ve always wanted to do that with Shakespeare. We don’t know a lot about the man, and pretty safely never will. So I open it up — what do you *believe* is true about Shakespeare? And what do you *wish* was true? This conversation may drive the historians (who presumably would like to know what *is* true) nuts, but the romantics can have a field day. 🙂
I wish that Shakespeare was indeed attempting to write this cookbook for what it means to be a human that he managed to create for us. I wish that everything we choose to read into his works is in fact really there because he deliberately put it there. A message for all time, from the master.
I wish that he had a happy home life, and that his writings on romance stemmed directly back from his own feelings for his wife.
I wish that someday we’d know the answer, definitively, to all the great questions we have. What’s the deal with his education and life experience? How’d he learn so much about so many topics? What was he doing for his lost years?
I believe that we’ll never know those things for sure. I believe that in another century we may pick up a few clues along the way but it will all still just be peace-meal guesses at what the clues mean.
I believe that his home life was about as difficult as any man’s during his day. I don’t believe there was anything magical about it.
I believe that while William Shakespeare was *better* at his craft than the next guy, that this is most likely all he ever strived to be. He was a shrewd businessman and a bit of a penny-pincher from all we can tell, so I don’t have any difficulty believing that he saw his plays as a way to make a lot of money. His craft (his gift?) came from putting something different on the stage, from changing the audience’s expectations about what they were about to see.
Know what the major difference is between what you believe and what you wish? What you believe should constantly be subject to scrutiny. New information should make you welcome a change in what you believe. Bring me new evidence to clearly dispute any of the beliefs that I listed, and assuming that I believe your evidence :), I’ll change my beliefs. But what we wish? We can cling to that as long as we like. That’s ours.