It is a befitting tribute to the Bard of Avon that the British Prime Minister David Cameron has personally written a tribute to Shakespeare on his 400th birth anniversary today, carried by the Hindustan Times.
That settles at least one controversy about the man credited with introducing so many quotations that have almost been recognized as proverbs in the English language.When we were students there were as many theories about the identity of the writer of those masterpieces (broadly categorized as tragedies,comedies and historical plays) as there were scholars.
The majority view was that such a huge volume of such quality work could not have been the creation of one mind.It was a syndicate or a group of writers that produced this work by the pseudo name Shakespeare. Yet another theory was that these plays were written by Francis Bacon one of his contemporaries who was famous for his essays.
My love for Shakespeare was sort of forced. I got a very poor score in my monthly exam in literature in ninth class and was given a dressing down by my Principal who told me that I should know half of Julius Caesar by heart. We were all so scared of her that I literally mugged up Julius Caesar which comes in handy even today when I need quotations. Of all the plays written by Shakespeare Julius Caesar is the richest as far as I know.
My own understanding of Shakespeare is mostly tampered by Mr.Gupta who taught me in Hindu.The best known plays of Shakespeare are his Tragedies -Hamlet, King Lear, Julius Caesar, but Mr.Gupta said that his Comedies like As you like it, Twelfth Night, Mid summer Nights Dream were as well- written but teachers did not know how to teach them.
After that it was a life long love- affair with the Bard who has touched almost every emotion of human life in his works written in the 17 th century whatever his real identity. When nothing works I, like everyone who has read Shakespeare, can depend on him to help us out with a quotable quote.
His works provide the most delicate of emotions with such clarity that sometimes he appears like a ‘ Saint’, totally uninvolved with the characters he creates.
Who else could have created a majestic character like Othello who while killing his beloved Desdemona because he believes she is unfaithful, cries out ‘the cause, it is the cause, my soul,- Be thus when thou art dead, and I will kill thee, And love thee after.’
Or the pain and disbelief of Julius Caesar who when his most trusted friend Brutus stabs him cries out ‘Et tu Brute then fall Caesar,’
One of the most amazing feature about his works is that one can find authentic information about any subject that he deals with as if he is an expert, whether it is poison, a storm or the relationship of a father and daughter which went on to become a classic like ‘ King Lear’.
Words fall short in paying a tribute to him even after 400 years!
By Amitabh Srivastava