July 28, 2011
by Gabe Bouz
After a week of multiple captivating lectures by inspired professors and physicians with different backgrounds and interests, we as a group were fortunate to travel to Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace and hometown of a man whose work is famous and distinguished among all cultures of the world—William Shakespeare. Studying at Oxford University, one of the oldest teaching institutions in the world, I wondered why the incredibly creative Shakespeare wasn’t an alumnus. Saturday morning at Shakespeare’s actual home, now an exhibition, my question was answered; John Shakespeare his father was a glover, a job of the lower class so William didn’t have the money to attend Oxford or Cambridge. After being educated in a grammar school until the age of 14 and getting married four years later, young Shakespeare began his quest to greatness.
Seeing the bed Shakespeare slept on, walking through the hall where he ate his meals, and sitting on the very steps by the garden where he may have sat and thought of his brilliant ideas and stories, I analyzed every detail of the walk. This was an experience that I would share with my kids one day. Next up was the house of his older wife, Anne Hathaway. She was 26 years old when she married the younger 18-year old Shakespeare, who apparently had to work hard for her hand in marriage. According to the guide, Anne Hathaway made frequent visits to the town of Stratford and Shakespeare spent a lot of time courting Hathaway for her love. After marriage, Shakespeare went on to London where he joined a theatre company and composed works that became favorites of Queen Elizabeth. He earned enough to retire and live in the second-largest house of his hometown, Stratford.
Now as the day was coming to a close, one of my classmates mentioned to the group the conspiracy surrounding whether Shakespeare was a fake. We all looked at each other, shook our heads, and knew—after a day filled with accurate facts and concrete evidence of his works, home, and existence—that the conspiracy wasn’t true. The conspiracy questions how a man who received education from a rural town grammar school up to the age of 14 became the greatest playwright of all time and undoubtedly influenced the linguistic patterns and phrases of the English language. After visiting Stratford, my fellow classmates and I were convinced. Using a quote from Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night, “some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ‘em.” William Shakespeare was a man of all three.
Gabe Bouz is a sophomore double majoring in biology and psychology in USC Dornsife.