Shakespeare Authorship Question: Thorough Analysis of Style, Context, and Violence in the Plays Hamlet, Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night Term Paper


If one answers that William Shakespeare was the author, it can be predicted that he/she was asked a famous Shakespeare authorship question. The problem whether Shakespeare was the author of all the plays he had written or it was absolutely another person or even a group of people remains unsolved.

Much discussion is devoted to the issues, but it remains useless as both differences and similarities are considered in the written works by Shakespeare. The main purpose of this paper is to consider the discussion which takes place around the Shakespeare authorship question and analyze his three plays Hamlet, Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night with the goal to check the similarities and differences in style, content, language, etc.

It should be stated that even though most of the scholars point to the fact that Shakespeare was not the author of the plays, I would like to contradict this opinion and prove that Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night are written by one and the same author as the problem statement, the veiled problems and the manner of truth revealing are similar in the plays.

Shakespeare Authorship Question

Different Opinions on the Problem of Shakespeare Authorship

Much research has been provided devoted to the analysis of the Shakespeare’s works and the identification of the authorship. Regnier points to the abounding variety of law terms and notions in Hamlet. He tries to prove that it is impossible to be so aware of those definitions and so skillfully use those in writing if the author is not the layer.

Even though the article does not prove that Hamlet was written by other authors except for Shakespeare, it makes us continue research and try to find other supportive or denying evidence (Regnier 426).

A comparative analysis of the Shakespeare’s footprint and the footprint of other writers who lived during the same period shows that the evidence of Shakespeare’s existence is almost absent. “If Shakespeare was a writer, he would have footprints similar to those of the comparison authors” (Sturrock 534), but it is not so.

Therefore, this research does not prove that Shakespeare was not an author, it just arises a number of other hypothesis connected with the fact that Shakespeare either hid the fact that he was a writer or he did not do it at all.

Diana Price tried to understand the reasons of the absence of the evidence of Shakespeare’s authorship and has come to the conclusion that there were many testimonies to this idea, but they were not written, they were just spoken by William’s friends, family members, etc. During the time of Shakespeare’s life the problem of authorship was not put so high as it was obvious for everybody that those plays were written by Shakespeare, thus, the written evidence was unnecessary (Price 14).

It is obvious that if the problem is spoken, so it exists. Still, the issue may be considered from different angles. On the one hand, it can be stated that Shakespeare cannot be called the author of the works titled with his names as there is no evidence which definitely prove this hypothesis.

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On the other hand, I cannot reject the idea that Shakespeare can be the author of the works he is titled with as there are not strict proofs that he is not (Bristol 128). Thus, the Shakespeare authorship question has not been solved yet and the close analysis of the plays probably written by this author may be one of the new steps to make the situation clear.

Background for Hamlet, Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night

Hamlet, Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night are the plays by William Shakespeare written at one and the same time, approximately between 1599 and 1602. Before getting down to comparison and contrast analysis of the plays under discussion, it is necessary to check the plot of these plays and their main ideas from the perspectives of other authors to get rid of prejudiced attitude in the relation to our thesis statement.

Kazimierczak tries to prove that the question of Shakespeare authorship may appear due to the translation of some specific works. Providing some examples of the personalization of some specific ideas due to the differences in imagination in the author and the translator while translation, she tries to show that sometimes these issues may influence the perception of the text by the reader (Kazimierczak 50).

Thus, reading Hamlet for proving Shakespeare’s authorship, the original texts should be considered, which a difficult affair is. Reading Hamlet, it becomes obvious that the problems arisen there are deeper and more serious. The question “to be or not to be” (Shakespeare and Hapgood 178) is not just the hesitation in Hamlet’s mind, it is the hesitation in his heart. The conflict in the religious field is touched as the play was written while the period of reformation (Oakes 72).

Homosexuality is one of the issues which is veiled in Shakespeare’s plays. Having conducted a research, Stanivukovic points to the presence of the homosexual tendencies in Hamlet and Julius Caesar (148).

The analysis of the topic of homosexuality in Shakespeare’s works shows that the problem is mentioned only in the latest works by the author and does not prove anything (Stanivukovic 138). Julius Caesar raises the problems of the struggle for power and fate over leadership. These issues are also hidden and can be considered on the basis of the main characters’ behaviors, speeches, etc. (Cartelli 35).

The problem of gender and its importance for people is revealed in one more play by Shakespeare, Twelfth Night (Osborne 33). According to Sarnelli, Shakespeare’s plays “display a homoerotic circulation of desire, an erotic energy which is elicited, displaced and exchanged s it confronts the pleasures and anxieties of early modern culture” (622) that make it similar to Julius Caesar. Still, the problem of gender relations is not the only issue similar in three plays under discussion.

Comparison and Contrast of Style, Context, etc. in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night

To begin with, the differences should be stated to make it clear that they exist. First of all, three plays are devoted to different topics, hate and desire to revenge, struggle for power, and love and jealousy are the central themes discussed in Hamlet, Julius Caesar, and Twelfth Night respectively.

Two plays are similar in tragic mood (Hamlet and Julius Caesar), while Twelfth Night is absolutely different and ends up with the laugh and cheery mood, not with tears and the feeling of despair. Each of these plays has absolutely different ideas, but all of them are aimed at teaching the reader something, at showing that what is done by night appears by day.

These three plays are different in themes and refer to varied motifs and ideas, but they have one and the same feature. The author creates a problem, an intrigue in the beginning of the plays which develops and becomes more mysterious and confused and at the end of the plays the truth reveals and everything becomes obvious. This is the main similar feature of these plays. The author does not leave any problem unsolved or mysterious.

This manner to reveal the truth is also a characteristic feature of the plays under discussion. Moreover, the development of the events, the problem statement, its climax and conclusion are considered to be the main characteristic features. One more point which should be mentioned is that there is always a person who says a closing speech in the final scene. This person also declares the play morale.


Therefore, the conclusion I have come to supports the thesis statement mentioned in the beginning, Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night are written by one and the same author as the context, the written style, the problems and the manner of their veiling is similar.

The understanding whether these three plays are similar and written by the same person may give us an opportunity to state that there is no need to prove that each of the plays belongs to Shakespeare. The Shakespeare’s authorship only of one play should be proven to make it clear that he wrote the rest two.

Works Cited

Bristol, Michael D. “Shakespeare Is an Author: An Essentialist View.” Shakespeare Studies 36 (2008): 122-131. Print.

Cartelli, Thomas. “Doing it slant: Reconceiving Shakespeare in Shakespeare aftermath.” Shakespeare Studies. Ed. Susan Zimmerman. New Jersey: Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press, 2010. 26-36. Print.

Kazimierczak, Karolina. “Adapting Shakespeare for Star Trek and Star Trek for Shakespeare: The Klingon Hamlet and the spaces of translation.” Studies in Popular Culture 32.2 (2010): 35-55. Print.

Oakes, T. Edward. “Hamlet and the Reformation: The Prince of Denmark as “Young Man Luther.” Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought & Culture 13.1 (2010): 53-78. Print.

Osborne, Laurie E. “Twelfth Night’s cinematic adolescents: One play, one plot, one setting, and three teen films.” Shakespeare Bulletin 26.2: 9-36. Print.

Price, Diana. “Shakespeare’s Authorship and Questions of Evidence.” Skeptic 11.3 (2005): 10-15. Print.

Regnier, Thomas. “Could Shakespeare think like a lawyer? How inheritance law issues in Hamlet may shed light on the authorship question?” The University of Miami Law Review 57(2003): 377-428. Print.

Sarnelli, Laura. “Staging the space of desire: A queer reading of Twelfth Night.” Textus XX (2007): 617-632. Print.

Shakespeare, William and Robert Hapgood. Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999. Print.

Stanivukovic, Goran. “Shakespeare and Homosexuality.” Forum for Modern Language Studies 46.2 (2010): 138-151. Print.

Sturrock, P. A. “Shakespeare: The authorship question, A Bayesian approach.” Journal of Scientific Exploration 22.4 (2008): 529-537. Print.