Anne Hathaway Speaks

AnneHathawayAndShakespeare

My husband Will was not inattentive to me, though this is what most folk assumed. True he lived in London and I saw him scarce, but when he arrived back to Stratford, O then! Much welcoming and merrymaking there was and I greeted him with open arms.

Will’s true home was the theater, his soul poured forth from his quill and ink pots. When I married him I knew this. How could I not?  He spoke in rhyme when he wooed me. The sonnet sprung from his lips, a stretch of beat and iamb, beautiful words and I trust not a woman in all of Stratford would have resisted young Master Shakespeare. He was tall and handsome, quick witted, dark eyed.  And I?  I was the original summer’s day, Venus to his Adonis.

When he moved to London it was with  that very poem he acquired patronage from the Earl of Southampton.  He had since compromised his words, winking to the the faire youth and dark lady.  Leave gossip for the tongue wagers.  I suspected he had lovers, both women and men.  Of course he did.  After all, his time in London was long. Yet the green monster of envy raised not its head.

One must understand. He was but a boy of eighteen when I married him, and I a woman of twenty six. And though I was with child, I knew his wild oats were not yet sown.  Faithfulness was never expected.  Therefore we lived in harmony.

But I!  Yes I.  Was the mother of his children, the keeper of his hearth. More importantly, not a word of his plays did he scribe, not a scroll did he bring to the King’s Men without my approval.  That was my gift, though none knew of it.

“Anne,” he said to me, “thou art my Juliet, my Beatrice, my Titania in all splendor of the fairies.” His meaning more specific, I was his muse.

merchant of venice pd 2

Consider his play of Juliet. What a botched thing it was,  before I took my hand to it. “The lovers must commit suicide, Will,” quothe I. “Nothing less will do.”

“How so?” he asked.

“By poison of course. And a stabbing, the bloodier the better! In London they crave all means of violence, death, destruction and swordplay. You must give the public what they want, Billie Shakespeare! Else all is lost and the words for naught.”

The same was true of his characters Ophelia, Gertrude and Hamlet. My husband would have written it mildly, trippingly on the tongue as he liked to say. “O no Will,” I corrected. “There must be tragedy. Sweet Ophelia, tormented by madness, will drown herself in a river amongst the heavy flowers and willows that weep.”

“Another suicide?” He shook his head.

“Another, and many more. Trust me.”

Consider Macbeth.  A lame play until I corrected it, making Macbeth a milquetoast to a treacherous and evil woman! She was perhaps the most cunning of my creations.

“The Lady Macbeth must urge the man forward,” I insisted. “It is she who plots killing of King Duncan, she who will bloody her hands most.” His jaw hung and he turned a bit pale at this notion.

“She,” I continued, “will unsex herself, ruthless and scheming. She will drive herself to madness, never eliminating the the damned spots of blood that haunt her like Banquo’s ghost!”

macbeth

He argued with me. “Surely, wife, the gentry will loathe such a vile woman.”

“They will love to hate her,” I assured him. For what better entertainment than an evil femme fatale and what better place to lay blame?

I was correct.

And so it was the box office flourished. “Sell admissions cheap, not more than a penny,” I advised him.

“But Anne,” quothe he, “Baron Hundson will not have it. The Globe itself will be closed should we not turn a profit.”

“You’ll turn a profit and you’ll turn it handsomely,” I insisted.  When the groundlings poured in, seatless in the mud and mire, but not lacking to pay their penny, Will saw that I was correct. I was always correct.

The money pots scattered and we quickly made a fortune. “To tell and sell a story,” I told him, “is the noblest of professions. None will tire of it, for they seek desperately to escape the boredom of their mundane lives.”

And so it was, back home in Stratford, by our fortune I acquired land and houses. New Place was mine, a brace of animals and horses, thriving farms and plenty of servants to do my bidding. When we accumulated enough wealth I urged Will to purchase a Coat of Arms. The motto ‘Not Without Right’ were my own words, because indeed we were not without rights to our own status of Gentle.

shakesepare coat of arms

One day I waited for the clomp of horse hooves upon our pavement. ‘Twas the twenty third day of April, the day of his birth and Will returned home to celebrate. My cooks had prepared a great feast. There would be games and diversions. I smiled as I saw him ride up the road, clothed in boots and britches. He pulled a scribbled parchment from his doublet.

“What’s this?” I kissed him on both cheeks, then took the parchment.

“My latest,” he answered. “It is called Othello.”

“And what story?”

“A marriage between a Moor and a Venetian. Their love will be the purest and they shall live happily ever after.”

I shook my head and tore the parchment to pieces.

“Their love,” I said defiantly, “shall be fraught with tension. The Moor black as jet and the Venetian white as pearl. She a young seductress, he a skilled soldier.   There will be coupling, the mounting of the beast with two backs, they insatiable in their lust!  There will be jealousy and betrayal, one named Cassio who will claim her…”

I narrowed my eyes, thinking of what would enhance this plot. “Add a handkerchief, the most intimate of objects.”

Will popped his eyes. “Surely not a handkerchief!”

“Yes, husband. And ‘twill end in a murder.  Othello driven to savage madness, kills his wife in her very own bed! Then he, driven to suicide, slays himself and falls next to her. Give the people blood and lust and lovers and yet more blood.”

“My dear, are you sure? Such a thing shall be most controversial.” He cocked his head.

“Trust me.” I answered. I then took his hand. “Let the birthday celebrations begin.”

That night we finished revisions. I predicted the story of the Moor named Othello and his wife Desdemona would be among the greatest of my husband’s many tragedies. I predicted the plays would last on into posterity, for hundred of years, maybe thousands, created anew by each generation, constantly revealing human truths, constantly entertaining each audience.

And I was always correct.

“She hath a way,  so to control

and rapture the imprisoned soul

and sweetest heaven on earth display

that to be heaven, Anne hath a way

She hath a way, Anne Hathaway,

To breathe delight, Anne hath a way.”

                                                          — William Shakespeare

Born April 23, 1564, Died April 23, 1616

Birthday-Shakespeare

 

 

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Shakespeare’s Words and Wisdom

“Lord, what fools these mortals be!”  – A Midsummer Night’s Dream

real

 

No one knows the exact actual date of Shakespeare’s birth. We do, however, know through church records that he was baptized on April 26th, 1564.  It was customary back then to baptize babies within three days of their birth. (This was done so they wouldn’t end up in Limbo, which was NOT, btw, a dance —  but rather a state of suspension in which one’s soul was not fit for Heaven, yet not bad enough for Hell.  It all had to do with that pesky original sin, which could be expunged with baptism.)   We also know, through death records, that Shakespeare passed away on April 23rd, 1616 at the ripe old age of 52. (This reportedly following a drinking binge with Ben Johnson and some theater buddies, come down to Stratford for some merry making.  Maybe celebrating his birthday!)   Imagination and poetic license allow us to say, within reason, that Shakespeare’s birth date and death date both fall on April 23rd.

Therefore, TODAY marks the  400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, and the 452nd anniversary of his birth.  Yay Will!

Birthday-Shakespeare

In honor of my all time favorite writer, I would like to submit a compilation of some of his most profound quotes.  I mean, he covered everything —  birth, death, love, sex, men, women, music, good, evil, humanity itself.  It’s worth looking into –  maybe even worth considering as part of  our own life philosophies. Let me know what you think!

 

“Sigh no more, ladies, sigh nor more;

    Men were deceivers ever;

One foot in sea and one on shore,

    To one thing constant never.”  –  Much Ado About Nothing

Arthur Hughes - The Pained Heart (aka 'Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more')

Ah, yes, pretty maids.  Be not bothered by those jack-a-nape rogues you call boyfriends who refuse commitment and wedding rings, all the while drooling over the latest porn posts.  Listen to the immortal Bard.  ‘Constant to one thing never.’  What did you expect?  Instead best get your career in track, use birth control and invest in a good 401 k.

 

“Thou know’st the first time that we smell the air we wawl and cry. When we are born we cry, that we are come to this great state of fools.” – King Lear

Newborn-baby-after-a-home-001

Well, after all now.  We know this planet earth is a rather silly place, don’t we?  Of course little babies coming in here are gong to be upset.  Especially considering a lot of them now are Indigos and Crystal children from the constellation Sirius and such outermost regions. The cradle-grave journey is a short stay, so heed the Bard’s advice and know this is but a state of fools.

 

 

“To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”  – Hamlet

day-and-night

As Abe Lincoln once said, ‘You can’t please all of the people all of the time.’ So you may as well please yourself. They are going to criticize you anyway, so heed this great seed of wisdom  from the Shakes and be your own original self at all times.

 

Well, if Fortune be a woman, she’s a good wench for this gear.” – The Merchant of Venice

pirate wench

Need we say more?  Just don’t mess with any swashbuckling wenches 🙂

 

“By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.” – Macbeth

fairy

And watch out for them wicked witches!  They just might make some dire predictions that may or may not come true, depending upon your own ambition.

 

“Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” – Macbeth

walking-shadow

As I mentioned before, it’s a short stay here on planet earth, begging the immortal question,’What’s the point?’

 

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” – Hamlet

Good_vs_Evil_by_Saibel

Everyone knows this.  Hasten not to make those moral judgments, ye foolish mortals,  for one man’s trash is another’s treasure.  If you don’t believe me just check out ebay 🙂    It is the thinking that makes it so.

 

If music be the food of love…

play on

Shakespeare and the Witches

 

a macbeth 2

“All hail Macbeth, hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor.

All hail Macbeth, that shall be King hereafter!”

So states witches’ the prophetic message in William Shakespeare’s immortal ‘Scottish Play’.  This prediction, told by the Weird Sisters, sends Macbeth on a tunnel vision mission to destroy reigning King Duncan and take his so-called ‘rightful’ place on the throne.

To believe or not to believe… in the power of suggestion? That is the question!  (Pun intended.  See what I did there?)

The Bard has taken on nearly every subject in human capacity, but have you ever wondered what inspired him to write about witches?  What were the superstitions of the day, the beliefs of Jacobean society?  It is a history worth looking into.

In 1603, James Stuart of Scotland succeeded his aunt, Good Queen Bess, as ruler of England.  Along with his Danish wife and courtiers, James brought strange ideas to the palace, not the least of which was the irrational fear of witches.

Before James, witchcraft in England was considered a mostly benign crime.  Queen Elizabeth was no stranger to magic. She was known to consult super astrologer of the day John Dee.  Also, her own mother Anne Boleyn was rumored to have a ‘sixth finger’ and a ‘witch’s mole’.  (Moles and  other birthmarks could really get you in trouble back then.)   Anne Boleyn had been marginally accused of sorcery.  These factors perhaps contributed to Bess’ liberal attitudes.  At any rate, under Bess the crimes were not considered treasonous and first offenders were let off easily.

Not so with James. Before 1603 he had already tortured and executed dozens of accused witches, convinced that they contrived murderous plots against him.  James had instigated the North Berwick Witch Trials,  which were the first major witch persecutions in Scotland. This led to bigger paranoia.    It has been estimated that between 3,000 and 4,000 accused witches may have been killed in Scotland over the years from 1560 to 1707.

James considered himself a virtual witchcraft expert.  He was so much of an expert that he wrote a book called ‘Daemonologie’, which was all about – you guessed it – demons!  James instated the Witchcraft Act of 1604 which put the screws to witches (thumb and otherwise.)  Dabbling in the magic arts became treason.  Healers, midwives, potion makers and soothsayers were all fair game.  Culprits got the noose. This was much different than the previous hand slaps of Queen Bess.

James introduced a whole bunch of exotic and frightening new witch folklore into the social milieu.  You know that story about blood contracts? It was James who propagated it. For those that are unfamiliar, it goes something like this:  A witch signs a blood contract with the devil, guaranteeing him her immortal soul in exchange for earthly powers.  The devil, complete with hooves and horns, eagerly accepts. The two then do the Satanic horizontal bop to seal the deal.  James’ book describes all sorts of other ridiculous notions, such as cannibalism, evil hexes, maiming and murder.  Read this incredible piece of fiction for yourself at   http://www.sacred-texts.com/pag/kjd/#begin

James of course did not intend it as fiction.  He was serious as a peasant’s revolt.

James was also an avid theater fan.  He made it his royal business to take over Shakespeare’s troupe, the former Lord Chamberlain’s Men, renaming them simply ‘The King’s Men’.

Will Shakespeare, who was certainly no fool, became eager to write plays that would please his new boss.  Hence he penned Macbeth, set in 11th century Scotland, dealing not only with the Divine right of Kings, but also with witches.  The Bard frequently based his plays on myths, Greek tragedies and historical happenings.  One of his go-to reference books was Holinshed’s Chronicles, a history of Great Britain composed by Rafael Holingshed.  It is from this book that Shakespeare weaved the tragic history of Macbeth.  Ironically, one of his first inspirations came from this picture:

a macbeth

“Macbeth and Banquo encountering the witches – Holinshed Chronicles”

See those three ladies dressed in regalia of the day?  Those are the original witches.  They look pretty normal, don’t they? Yeah.  That’s what I thought.  Your average, every day wise-women.

Holinshed describes the scene:  “It fortuned as Makbeth and Banquho iournied towards Fores…  there met them thrée women in strange and wild apparell, resembling creatures of  an elder world…  the first of them spake and said; “All haile Makbeth, thane of Glammis”’

Three women.  Creatures of an elder world.  Judging from the picture, they would have commanded a bit of respect.

However, with King James in the throes of full blown witch paranoia, it is easy to see why Will hyped up the image, making the women bearded, thin lipped, hunch backed and squint eyed.  They were also prone to kill pigs, raise storms and cut off a pilot’s thumb.  Scary?  You bet.  The play was a box office smash.

However, it did leave us with an uncomfortable legacy.  The association of witches with evil.  I do not blame Shakespeare.  He was just trying to please his boss.  Besides that, the play clearly lays the blame for King Duncan’s murder on Macbeth’s ruthless ambition, NOT on the women of the Elder world.   At no time do the women actually suggest murder.

Much can be said about the power of literature and the ideas that become fixated in the human psyche. However, the next time someone tries to tell you witches are ugly old squint eyed hags, remember Holinshed’s illustration.  The original Macbeth witches.

Just some things to think about!

 

“Bringing the world closer through peace, harmony and understanding of the wise-craft.”

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