Even Jesus gets a boner when he thinks about Shakespeare, in both the biblical and platonic sense.
As an English major, I feel as if I am expected to get a lady boner over Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets and poetry. Yes, I do get rather excited whenever I hear the name Richard, or think about Titus Andronicus and meat pies. That’s a God damned given. But my hardness comes not from his words, but from his life.
From the research I have done on Shakebag, I can honestly say that I think the man was an honest to goodness asshole. That being said, I love him more for it. The man didn’t hide the fact that he had issues with marriage – the only successful and not damned creepy relationship in any of his plays is the adulterous love between Antony and Cleopatra – and was assumed to be having affair after affair out in London when his wife was back in the country side. If you belong to the camp that assumes Shakespeare died of syphilis, or an illness related to it, then you must also assume that he was a raging man-whore who possibly used his burgeoning fame to bed random women.
OK, you don’t have to assume that he had a litany of women enter his bedchambers, but he had to get the syph somehow and it sure as hell wasn’t from Anne. Speaking of Anne, one of my horribly anti-feminist, mysoginistic, and down right all time favorite things about Shakespeare was the fact that he had left her out of his first will and testament. The man returned to Stratford from London when he thought he was going to die. He hadn’t returned to his home in the country, even his new place at New Place, until six months before he died.
His first will was written none too long after his return, making is nearly a fact that he thought he was dying. Or going to die rather quickly. Hell, if I had the syph back in the seventeenth century I’d retreat into a hole rather than get into one of those communal mercury baths. Just like good old Willy. Anyway, he had written his first will with absolutely no mention of Anne Shakespeare, nee Hathaway. Common law back in that era stipulated that a wife would always inherit a certain percentage of her dead husband’s estate, unless otherwise noted. William went out of his way to leave all of his most valuable belongings and wealth to his eldest daughter Susanna.
If that’s not a huge FUCK YOU to Anne, then I don’t know what is. The fact that I find this not only amusing but terribly lady boner inducing should revoke my chick card for an undetermined amount of time. Shakespeare didn’t like his wife, so he stuck it to her. His brazen honesty is definitely worthy of some wood. Not only did he not include her in the first will, he only allotted her a piddly bed in his revised version of the document.
He didn’t die right away after moving into New Place, which is evident by the fact that I kept referring to his will as his first will. It took him a good six months of suffering to fade into nothingness, which gave him ample time to rethink his will or be pushed into revising his will by an outside party. Perhaps Susanna felt badly for her mother and invoked her father’s love of his daughter to get him to change his mind about slighting mother dearest. Who knows? Not I, said the Kateri. But the fact of the matter is, he did change his mind. In the revised document he left Anne his second best bed. Some scholars get all schmoopy and sappy, lovesick and lovestoned by this as it was common for the second best bed in a household to be the marriage bed – the best bed was reserved for guests.
Hell no – I don’t buy that for a moment. I find the attribution of their second best bed, their marriage bed perhaps, to Anne to be an even bigger slight than being ignored all together. She slept alone in that bed for decades, and he likely died in it. Not very fond memories there. And what more useless thing to gain in a will than a bed when the house is promised to someone else?
That’s right, I enjoy the fact that William Shakespeare likely hated his wife. His resentment toward her and marriage is more than understandable. Then again, don’t most men who get trapped into marriages by pregnancies feel a bit of resentment? Here’s to you most likely being a normal human being with normal human feelings and a supernatural gift of words, William Shakespeare. This boner’s for you.