Reason 49 to Conclude that Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford was “Shakespeare”: His Pervasive Presence in the Plays

This reason to believe Edward de Vere was “Shakespeare” follows from the previous one, about the pervasive presence of Queen Elizabeth in the plays.  The focus now is on the pervasive presence of the author himself.   The material here does not prove that the Earl of Oxford wrote these works, but it does add to the overwhelming evidence that he did.   A continued gaze through an Oxfordian lens brings a completely different picture into focus, one that feels like truth.

In a debate in New York City a Stratfordian opponent complained that I was trying to “take away” his personal conception of Hamlet, by suggesting the Prince is a mirror reflection of Oxford.  I replied that it’s the other way around, that knowing who created Hamlet can only enhance our appreciation in every way.  It certainly can’t detract from it!

Hamlet the character is not strictly autobiographical.  That idea is foolish on its face.  The author used various pieces of his own nature and experiences in life and grafted them onto various outside elements including classical sources, some of which served as templates.  The mirror image is not literal.  After mixing all the elements, he breathed life into a new creature of his imagination.  It’s no wonder Hamlet seems to be as alive, even more alive, than anyone in real life.

Here, again, the topic is quantity.  Aspects of Oxford’s own personality and life make their appearances in play after play, in the form of characters who reveal themselves as creations of the artist Edward de Vere.

In some cases Oxford apparently splits himself into two separate characters embodying opposite sides of his own nature, such as Valentine and Proteus in The Two Gentlemen of Verona.  Valentine is virtuous and endowed with noble qualities, while Proteus is viewed as “perjured, false and disloyal,” according to Silvia [Elizabeth].   In fact the Queen of England held both views of the Earl of Oxford, who, as a truth-teller, freely expresses his divided nature.

Another instance of splitting himself into two characters can be seen in his portraits in Measure for Measure of the noble and kind Duke versus the less-than-virtuous Angelo; and in As You Like It we can see Oxford expressing the melancholy side of his nature through Jacques, while Touchstone the former courtier is the poet who plays the fool with a scathing wit as well as a profound wisdom:  “When a man’s verses cannot be understood, nor a man’s good wit seconded with the forward child Understanding, it strikes a man more dead that a great reckoning in a little room.”

Here’s just a partial list of characters that seem, in various ways, to reflect Edward de Vere:

  1. Angelo …………………………… Measure for Measure
  2. Antonio …………………………. The Merchant of Venice
  3. Benedick ……………………….. Much Ado About Nothing
  4. Berowne ……………………….. Love’s Labours Lost 
  5. Bertram …………………………. All’s Well That Ends Well
  6. Duke ………………………………. Measure for Measure
  7. Philip the Bastard …………… King John
  8. Fenton …………………………….The Merry Wives of Windsor
  9. Feste the Clown ………………. Twelfth Night
  10. Hamlet ……………………………. Hamlet, Prince of Denmark
  11. Jacques …………………………… As You Like It
  12. King Lear …………………………. King Lear
  13. Othello ……………………………. Othello
  14. Pericles ……………………………. Pericles
  15. Posthumous ……………………. Cymbeline
  16. Prospero …………………………. The Tempest
  17. Proteus ……………………………. The Two Gentlemen of Verona
  18. Romeo …………………………….. Romeo and Juliet
  19. Timon ………………………………. Timon of Athens
  20. Troilus ……………………………… Troilus and Cressida
  21. Valentine …………………………. The Two Gentlemen of Verona

Philip the Bastard or Faulconbridge in King John offers a terrific view of Edward de Vere as a high-spirited young courtier, full of merry mischief and zeal for military combat and glory.  Although King John is a play of royal history, Philip is the author’s own creation.  Oxford [who had been called a bastard when he was thirteen] would have relished the chance to let his Bastard dominate the play and even conclude it with nationalistic gusto:

This England never did, nor never shall,

Lie at the proud foot of a conqueror,

But when it first did help to wound itself.

Now these her princes are come home again,

Come the three corners of the world in arms,

And we shall shock them.  Nought shall make us rue,

If England to itself do rest but true.

That word “true” is often a tipoff that Oxford, whose motto was Nothing Truer than Truth, is representing some aspect of himself through the character.  “But I hope truth is subject to no prescription,” he wrote to Robert Cecil, “for truth is truth, though never so old” – and consider, for example, this speech by Troilus:

True swains in love shall in the world to come

Approve their truths by Troilus: when their rhymes,

Full of protest, of oath and big compare,

Want similes, truth tired with iteration,

As true as steel, as plantage to the moon,

As sun to day, as turtle to her mate,

As iron to adamant, as earth to the center,

Yet, after all comparisons of truth,

As truth’s authentic author to be cited,

“As true as Troilus” shall crown up the verse,

And sanctify the numbers.

[The “numbers” are verses, as in Sonnet 17:  “If I could write the beauty of your eyes,/ And in fresh numbers number all your graces.”]

By bringing plays to the royal court, Oxford played the part of the Jester.  Olivia [Elizabeth] in Twelfth Night calls Feste [Oxford] a clown or “fool” who is “allowed” to run off at the mouth and make sport of others:  “There is no slander in an allowed fool, though he do nothing but rail” — the Queen’s personal playwright can scold or rant all he wants.  So long as she shields him with the royal protection, no one dares to accuse him of slander.

Imagine the ticket she gave him to use his powers, as a master of hilarious, merciless satire, to aim at those who deserved the roasting!

This single Reason to believe that Oxford was “Shakespeare” could fill up a thousand pages, so I’ll stop right here and conclude with this thought:  A few characters resembling aspects of Edward de Vere might be deemed a coincidence, but the sheer quantity of them indicates that much more is at work.


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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hank, anyone that looks at the evidence with an open mind can see Edward De Vere all through out the Shakespeare works. I believe Oxford left clues and hints through out his works and if look at closely reveal his true identity as (Shakespeare). I also believe Oxford wanted his identity revealed as the true auther after his death. But the truth has been suppressed by the Stratfordians for many years. Believe me, if the Stratfordians had evidence like the Oxfordians do, we would never hear the end of it. But of course they don’t and the man from Stratford is getting harder and harder to identify as the man who wrote the Shakespeare works. Thanks to people like you, we are finally getting closer to the real truth of the Authership Debate!!!

  2. Thank you for the continuing proofs of Oxfordian connection to the Shakespeare canon. Just to finesse a remark above [“And in fresh numbers number all your graces.”], I think it is a plausible name-pun that “fresh numbers” has reference to “vers” in Dutch, which means fresh. “Vers” appears in Sonnet SEVENTEEN, hint hint.

    I believe that we do not sufficiently appreciate the astounding retentive memory of the literate class in England, when the oral tradition was still co-equal with the rise of ready texts. Their allusions spanned thirty or more years, as evidenced by Jonson’s 1623 mention of “he shakes a lance at Ignorance” as a direct allusion to Gabriel Harvey’s 1578 metaphor praising Oxford as shaking a spear at Ignorance.

    And to return to “vers”, it reappears in 1623 as a foreign language punning allusion in Leonard Digges’s encomium: “When brass and marble fade, [this book] shall make thee look / Fresh to all ages.” Again, the odd term for such an occasion, fresh, pops up, unrelated to its funerary context but quite meaningful translated to a Dutch word that doubles as a Vere name-clue. Little did they know that allusions wither when Time plows the contextual ground.

    • Good point, and thanks for reminding us that back then they really did pay attention to such allusions. Language was such a wondrously adaptable tool. They were drawing from all the other languages, from Latin to French and Italian and Greek and Spanish and, sure, Dutch! — with Holland playing such a crucial role in the ongoing conflict with Spain. If “fresh” = “vers” it lends quite some power to Oxford as father writing of Southampton as his son, in Sonnet 107, “My love looks fresh…” (“My royal son resembles me, Vere.”) All the languages were the basis for a new English tongue that the Earl of Oxford was working, with many others, to develop.

      • Those are some great points, it’s amazing how multicultural Shakespeare’s works and influences were. Oxford was fluent in many languages and it makes perfect sense that he left puns and hints through out his works in many different languages. It is pretty prophetic that the most translated writer in human history left hints that many different cultures and languages could discover.

  3. Whittemore, I never have the oportunity to read one of your books so I follow this blog daily. Can I ask to make a page on this blog about the presence of Henry Wriothesley concelead on the poems and plays that De Vere did penned under the name “Wiliam Shake-Speare”? I just can see the Earl of Southampton present in “Venus and Adonis as the flower that cames form Adonis (Oxford). Sorry my bad english but i’m not english nor american.

    • Yes, that’s a great idea, and long overdue on this blog. Thanks for the suggestion — I’ll put up some posts on Southampton in the “Shakespeare” poems in the near future. You are correct, of course, about Southampton is the “purple flower” that “sprung up” near the very end:

      And in his blood that on the ground lay spilled
      A purple flower sprung up…

      It’s an allegory telling the story of Southampton’s birth as son-flower of Oxford-Adonis and Elizabeth-Venus, who tells Southampton-the-flower:

      “Here was thy father’s bed, here in my breast;
      Thou art next of blood, and ’tis thy right.”

      And that is the same as in Sonnet 17, when Oxford, writing to his son, speaks of “your true rights” to the throne.
      Thanks again and I promise to write about it on the blog soon as time permits.


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