He is regarded as the most influential writer of all times, so much that one of his colleagues defined him: “He was not of an age, but for all time.” I am talking about the superb British playwright William Shakespeare that today on occasion of the 400Th anniversary of the death happened on April 23 , 1616, I wanted to meet for my readers through an imaginary interview where we’ll find out the secret life and the works of William Shakespeare. And now, ladies and gentleman, I’ll leave you along with this interview I hope you’ll enjoy like the others I previously written.
Rosalba: Mr. Shakespeare, as an Italian writer who is trying to write in English, I am really embarrassed for this interview, you are the writer who invented the English language such as Dante Alighieri invented the Italian one in Italy and I fear to make some mistakes with my writing in English.
Shakespeare: And so? Where is the problem? I am very happy for being interviewed by you. Now, forget your fears, please, and ask all you want!
Rosalba: Okay Mr. Shakespeare, let’s start. I know you are famous for being the playwright to better showed the human inner conflicts, as you proved in the famous play Hamlet, where the sentence of the main character is by now famed all over the world, namely “Be or Not to Be, This is the problem”. What was the true meaning of these words?
Shakespeare: I believe to understand this kind of sentence, it is sufficient to read my play or to go to the theatre to watch the many representations made every year, but since I know that today, it is hard to persuade people to go to the theatre, I can only say this sentence arises from my personal inner conflicts. I lived in a hard epoch, during the reigns of Elizabeth and James I, where rules and laws were greatly stern and firm. In my time, it was not easy at all be as you wanted or felt to be. Your desires, sometimes even carnal lust, jealousy and so many other emotions had to be deeply hidden in the heart of people, through my plays, also with Hamlet, I only wanted to show the profound suffering of the human soul.
Shakespeare: I am honoured in this, but I also think that a good play allows to give vent to our negative thoughts and dissolve our aggressiveness. It is a good medicine to prevent mental illness.
Rosalba: What is, hence, literature for you, a way to gain deliverance and relief from inner suffering?
Shakespeare: I never asked this question to myself because I have always aimed to be only a writer, a poet and a playwright, namely: myself.
Rosalba: that is then your main literary concept: the importance of being… But apart be or not to be, I also know you worked as an actor.
Shakespeare: At the beginning of my career, I also worked in my plays, but it only was a way to earn money from my writing.
Rosalba: I also know you are one among the few writers who during his career earned wealth and much money. How you managed to get these excellent outcomes ?
Shakespeare: alone, writing never allowed to gain fame and glory or money. While writing combined with theatre, where people pay a ticket to watch a play, in my epoch it was an excellent way to work and earn by writing, but I understand it would be impossible today to get similar achievements. Furthermore, at that time, the King of England also paid me to write his favourites plays.
Rosalba: someone said that you worked as a school teacher. This information is true or false?
Shakespeare: About me, some critics and scholars made a lot of speculation, such as I never existed or I plagiarized some plays or I worked as a teacher. But, in literature, like music, sometimes plagiarize is involuntary, rhymes, plays and songs can always resemble each other, and if I was never existed, I think no-one in your epoch remembered the anniversary of my death! Furthermore, I earned money from theatre work. In 1580 I was a member of a playing company in London. In 1603 the company was awarded with a royal patent by King James I and some years before some members of my company built a theatre on a bank.
Rosalba: were these the years you made many financial investments and bought some properties in your birth town Stratford?
Shakespeare: yes, I became a wealthy man just those years!
Rosalba: you really are the first writer I interviewed who managed to get rich by writing!
Shakespeare: I don’t know if this is the truth! I don’t even believe to have been a great actor! I am sure, however, my works were good!
Rosalba: Good? Your works were and are excellent! By the way, can you mention your important literary works?
Shakespeare: Sure, it is my pleasure. Between 1590 and 1592, I wrote Henry VI series, Richard III, and The Comedy of Errors , in 1593 I wrote two narrative poems, Venus and Adonis, The Rape of Lucrece and further sonnets. From 1594, I also wrote, The Taming of the Shrew, Two Gentlemen of Verona and Love’s Labour’s Lost . Around 1595, I wrote Richard II , Romeo and Juliet and The Merchant of Venice. During King James’s reign, I wrote the most famous tragedies, such as King Lear , Anthony And Cleopatra and the so called blood trilogy with the tragedies Hamlet, Macbeth and Othello. I want to remind you this work, also: A Midsummer Nights Dream .
Rosalba: Thank you so much Mr. Shakespeare for your very helpful list. Another question: Why did you set your famous tragedies in Italy, in Verona and Venice, for instance? I suppose you loved Italy very much because you allowed these two Italian cities to be greatly known all over the world.
Shakespeare: I think Italy and above all Verona and Venice are the cities that better describe a scenario of love and death. Their surroundings and architectural style are a sort of play in the play. A magnificent play, anyway… I loved Italy, of course, but because of the laws in England, I believe many among my plays and tragedies would have been censured in my homeland. I got more freedom to express my art in Italy and this is the reason which led me to set my plays there.
Rosalba: With this reply I am driven, instead, to think Italy is more corrupted than England. Do you know I asked an important Italian municipality to give out a small fund for this interview, but it rejected my request? This Italian city has hosted some of your famous plays, such as Romeo and Juliet!
Shakespeare: I am very sorry they did not help you create this interview as the King of England (with royal funds) helped me write my plays! I can only say this to you: All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts… As You Like it, Act II, Scene 7, 139–42.
Rosalba: This is the famous sentence of your pastoral comedy that invented the famous speech All the world’s a stage. Thanks Mr. Shakespeare for this heartfelt and original interview. However, I hope many people will stop definitively playing… above all the Italian politicians.
Shakespeare: I wish the same thing and thanks for your kind interview. I want also to leave you with another my aphorism: don’t destroy your present for a past with no future! I am sure this interview will rewarded soon by your readers. Goodbye!
Rosalba: Goodbye, Mr. Shakespeare!
For a full overview about all of the works by William Shakespeare, click here.
Source of the image: www.biography.com