Opinion: Is the Bard really back?

Carley Hull is a senior news major. Contact her at chull9@kent.edu. 

Carley Hull is a senior news major. Contact her at [email protected] 

Carley Hull

The Shakespeare play “hoax” could soon be your next literature reading assignment as psychology scholars also claim the play is actually Shakespeare’s work.

The play “Double Falsehood” by Shakespeare expert Lewis Theobald was initially thought to be based on a play co-written by William Shakespeare and John Fletcher. According the NBC, Theobald claimed he based the play off of Shakespearean manuscripts about the story of Cardenio from “Don Quixote.” Conveniently, Shakespeare’s original play was supposedly destroyed in a fire.

After the play ran in 1727, the public did not take well to Theobald’s play and believed Theobald forged the play to look like Shakespeare’s work. No one thought the play was actually Shakespeare’s. Up until the 21st century, public and scholarly opinion was that the play was a fake.

In 2010, the Arden Shakespeare publishers published the play as a work of Shakespeare after Professor Brean Hammond of Nottingham University found literary evidence that the play was actually Shakespeare’s work. Now, two academics at the University of Texas are also claiming that Theobald didn’t write the play, but instead he tried to pass Shakespeare’s “lost” play as his own. Meaning for nearly 300 years a plagiarized work might have gone basically undetected because experts thought it was an imitation.

To determine the play was Shakespeare’s, researchers James W. Pennebaker and Ryan Boyd examined 33 Shakespearean plays, 12 plays by Theobald and nine plays by John Fletcher, who occasionally co-wrote with Shakespeare. The researchers studied the “pronouns, articles and prepositions, words relating to emotions, family, sensory perception and religion and other qualities” to formulate a psychological signature for each author, according to CNN. The researchers found that the first half appeared to be written almost entirely by Shakespeare and the second half by Shakespeare and Fletcher. Traces of Theobald’s signature were found; supporting the researchers claim that Theobald made edits, but didn’t write the play.

Still, not everyone in the literary community is on board with the idea that “Double Falsehood” isn’t false. Even with this new, scientific study of the play it will be difficult to prove the play is actually Shakespeare’s work since he’s been dead almost 400 years.

I find the idea that a plagiarized work could have been accepted as a fake or an imitation abhorrent. Writing is an art form, and it isn’t right for a writer to not receive credit for their hard work and creativity. If this happened to Shakespeare, how many other classics have been lost and published under different authors and playwrights? How can we stop this from happening in the future?

If Theobald truly stole Shakespeare’s work, his already tarnished reputation he gained in life will continue till his death. I think this is a fair sentence for someone responsible for mass confusion over a play we may never know for sure is a lost work of Shakespeare.

The Shakespeare play “hoax” could soon be your next literature reading assignment as psychology scholars also claim the play is actually Shakespeare’s work.

The play “Double Falsehood” by Shakespeare expert Lewis Theobald was initially thought to be based on a play co-written by William Shakespeare and John Fletcher. According the NBC, Theobald claimed he based the play off of Shakespearean manuscripts about the story of Cardenio from “Don Quixote.” Conveniently, Shakespeare’s original play was supposedly destroyed in a fire.

After the play ran in 1727, the public did not take well to Theobald’s play and believed Theobald forged the play to look like Shakespeare’s work. No one thought the play was actually Shakespeare’s. Up until the 21st century, public and scholarly opinion was that the play was a fake.

In 2010, the Arden Shakespeare publishers published the play as a work of Shakespeare after Professor Brean Hammond of Nottingham University found literary evidence that the play was actually Shakespeare’s work. Now, two academics at the University of Texas are also claiming that Theobald didn’t write the play, but instead he tried to pass Shakespeare’s “lost” play as his own. Meaning for nearly 300 years a plagiarized work might have gone basically undetected because experts thought it was an imitation.

To determine the play was Shakespeare’s, researchers James W. Pennebaker and Ryan Boyd examined 33 Shakespearean plays, 12 plays by Theobald and nine plays by John Fletcher, who occasionally co-wrote with Shakespeare. The researchers studied the “pronouns, articles and prepositions, words relating to emotions, family, sensory perception and religion and other qualities” to formulate a psychological signature for each author, according to CNN. The researchers found that the first half appeared to be written almost entirely by Shakespeare and the second half by Shakespeare and Fletcher. Traces of Theobald’s signature were found; supporting the researchers claim that Theobald made edits, but didn’t write the play.

Still, not everyone in the literary community is on board with the idea that “Double Falsehood” isn’t false. Even with this new, scientific study of the play it will be difficult to prove the play is actually Shakespeare’s work since he’s been dead almost 400 years.

I find the idea that a plagiarized work could have been accepted as a fake or an imitation abhorrent. Writing is an art form, and it isn’t right for a writer to not receive credit for their hard work and creativity. If this happened to Shakespeare, how many other classics have been lost and published under different authors and playwrights? How can we stop this from happening in the future?

If Theobald truly stole Shakespeare’s work, his already tarnished reputation he gained in life will continue till his death. I think this is a fair sentence for someone responsible for mass confusion over a play we may never know for sure is a lost work of Shakespeare.