A Post Stratfordian Shake-speare Blog
Random header image... Refresh for more!

The ol Switcheroo



If the earl of Oxford wrote the works of Shakespeare, it must be explained who, how and why those works crossed the barrier that separates the nobility from the commoners in Elizabethan England.   Key pieces of information gleaned from Chapman’s The Gentleman Usher move forward the solution to this puzzle. From Usher we conclude that William Shakspere of Stratford was the earl’s minion and favorite. We learned Shakspere was a member of a troupe and rose to be their ‘king.’  And we learned that Queen Elizabeth was the likely driving force behind the works carrying the Shakespeare label.

Act II of the The Gentleman Usher, Medice/Shakspeare and Corteza/Elizabeth are drinking.

Corteza. Now, lord, when you do thus you make me think
Of my sweet husband, for he was as like you;
E’en the same words and fashion, the same eyes.
Manly, and choleric, e’en as you are, just;
And e’en as kind as you for all the world. 

Medice. Oh, my sweet widow, thou dost make me proud!

Corteza. Nay, I am too old for you. (II,ii,11-17)

Who was Corteza’s husband?  Who does Medice/Shakspere look like?  Is it Vere?

The simplest way for a noble person to cross the barrier is to swap identities with their trusted servant.  In Mozart’s Don Giovanni, the noble Don swaps cloaks with his man, Leporello, so he can seduce the women in the maid’s quarters.

It is your loss then not to see what is charming,
My sober Leporello,
With her this instant I would fain try my fortune,
And it has struck me, as evening is upon us,
‘tWould make the jest both new and more diverting,
If I put on thy cloak in this adventure.

I can see no occasion
For this strange masquerading.

Alas, a gentleman is apt
To be suspected by people of her station.
takes off his cloak
Give it me, make haste!

Oh, Sir, for sev’ral reasons…

Delay me not! Delays in love are treasons!
They exchange cloaks.

By assuming his servant’s identity, things that are closed off from Don Giovanni as a nobleman become accessible.

There’s a curious scene in Henry IV part 2 where Doll Tearsheet and Falstaff discuss the Prince and his sidekick (minion/favorite), Poins.

They say Poins has a good wit.

He a good wit? hang him, baboon! his wit’s as thick
as Tewksbury mustard; there’s no more conceit in him
than is in a mallet.

Why does the prince love him so, then?

Because their legs are both of a bigness, and a’
plays at quoits well, and eats conger and fennel,
and drinks off candles’ ends for flap-dragons, and
rides the wild-mare with the boys, and jumps upon
joined-stools, and swears with a good grace, and
wears his boots very smooth, like unto the sign of
the leg, and breeds no bate with telling of discreet
stories; and such other gambol faculties a’ has,
that show a weak mind and an able body, for the
which the prince admits him: for the prince himself
is such another; the weight of a hair will turn the
scales between their avoirdupois.  (II,iv)

Poins wit is thick as “Tewksbury mustard” according to Falstaff.  Not without mustard, indeed.  Are Poins and the Prince interchangeable?  Perhaps.

If Vere assumes William Shakspere’s identity, who does he become?   Not an author.  If Shakspere was, as indicated in Usher, a player in a troupe, then Vere as Shakspere assumes his place in the troupe.

The original purpose of the William Shakespeare ruse was not to hide the identity of a nobleman author, it was to hide the identity of a nobleman actor. 

October 25, 2013   No Comments