THE SHAKESPEARE ENIGMA

by

PETER DAWKINS

 


Unravelling The Story of The Two Poets
Foreword by Mark Rylance, Artistic Director of Shakespeare's Globe

 

Polair Publishing
London, 2004

CONTENTS

Dedication

vi

Acknowledgements

vii

Foreword by Mark Rylance

ix

Introduction

xiii

1. The Star of Poets

15

2. The Actor

23

3. Two Shakespeares?

37

4. The Treasure Trail

63

5. Shakespeare as a Nom-de-Plume

91

6. The Evidence of the Plays

120

7. The Author

157

8. The Great Artist

190

9. Merry Tales

226

10. Darkness and Lightness

256

11. The Shakespeare Team

288

12. A Rosicrucian Treasure Trail

316

13. Confirmations in Cipher

338

14.'Both Your Poets'

381

Notes on the Text

417

List of Ilustrations

455

Further Information and Bibliography

463

Index

465

"When something truly beautiful is made by an inspired human being like Shakespeare, I can't help wondering how he did it and how he wanted it shared. The marriage of heaven and earth, spirit and matter; the soul and psyche of the characters; these are all aspects of Shakespeare's wisdom. In these areas Peter has always been a unique and profound friend and teacher. I have not approached a Shakespeare play since meeting Peter without his thoughts in my mind. He is a gentle-spoken gentleman who loves to laugh at himself and possesses the patient curiosity of a wise man." Mark Rylance, (Artistic Director, Shakespeare's Globe)
 

From the Back of the Book

Every so often a book comes along which forces us to reappraise key writers such as Shakespeare. The Shakespeare Enigma, by Peter Dawkins, special adviser to London's "Shakespeare's Globe theatre, is such a book.
Our understanding of Shakespeare grows when we look at him from a quite unfamiliar viewpoint. One perspective only a few have seriously investigated is the matter of authorship. We all have our own impressions of William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon; but if we take the evidence of the plays themselves, these impressions are very difficult to fit the man we then encounter. The writer of Shakespeare's plays and sonnets was a man not only of his time, but of particularly broad experience. He was deeply immersed in the religious and political struggles of the day, exceptionally well-versed in law, diplomacy, the Court, and classical literature, and he was apparently widely travelled. He had a good ear for music, understood the science of gardening, and had more of an interest in metaphysical wisdom than we often realise. Shakespeare the actor also seems to have been regarded with strange suspicion by his contemporaries, until after he died at least.

Through his illuminating and detailed study of the plays and the hints they contain about the author, Peter Dawkins guides us down a fascinating trail, following clues that the writer himself may have wanted us to uncover, centuries later. One example is the curious phrase, 'both your poets', in Sonnet 83, and along with other such conundrums this is discussed on a number of levels. The monuments and eulogies to Shakespeare are profoundly enigmatic, too. The more seriously the clues are understood, the better the plays sit in their historical, political, religious and philosophical context.Peter then comes to startling and original conclusions as to the true idenitity of the author of Shakespeare's works.
Like any good investigation, this book is compendious in its presentation of evidence and copiously illustrated. It will appeal to all literary-minded people, those interested in esoteric wisdom, and anyone involved in arts education. The Shakespeare Enigma also ties in well with modern attempts to strip away conventions that scholarship has imposed and understood better how Elizabethans and Jacobeans regarded theatre.


 

 

The Shakespeare Enigma, or, Not What It Seems

One of the fascinating things about the Shakespeare plays is that they are full of enigmas and situations that are not what they at first appear to be-at least, not to the characters in each play. Take, for instance, The Winter's Tale. Hermione appears to die and be dead for sixteen long years. Leontes, her husband, whose jealousy is the direct cause of her apparent death, is sure that this is so. Their baby girl has, by his command, been taken away to be murderously disposed of-or so he believes. His jealousy is caused by what he conceived to be an affair between his wife and their old friend, Polixenes, the king of Bohemia, whom he erroneously concluded was the father of the child. But he is wrong on all counts. The child, Perdita, survives and, aged sixteen, returns home, betrothed to Polixenes' son, although she does not know her own true parentage. In a dramatic finale of the play, Hermione awakes, alive, having only been seemingly dead, and all is then revealed as it really is and was.

Much Ado About Nothing shows how easily men can be duped and made to believe something that is completely wrong, and leading to actions by them that are absolutely wrong, by a simple trick of deception. The prince of Aragon, Don Pedro, together with his friend Claudio and Leonarto, governor of Messina, are totally convinced that Leonarto's daughter, Hero, has been unfaithful on her wedding night. They viciously accuse her in church, at a crucial moment in the wedding ceremony. Hero, struck to the heart, faints. The friar, Francis, who sees clearly that Hero is almost certainly innocent of the charges, proposes that it be put abroad that Hero has died, so as to generate remorse in the hearts of the 'blind' and unkind men. This second but benign trick also works. The men show true remorse and do penance. The play's finale 'resurrects' Hero and, once again, all is revealed and resolved in a way that expresses a far greater love and appreciation than ever existed before.

The principal comedies about twins, The Comedy of Errors and Twelfth Night, also use the idea of seeming death and therefore loss to create a resolution and transmutation of the previously existing state of affairs. In both plays the loss is caused by storm, shipwreck and separation of one twin from another, each believing the other is drowned. But in neither case do any of the twins die. Unknown to each other, they survive, and are reunited towards the end of the play, when again all is revealed. In Twelfth Night the feminine twin, Viola, takes on a male disguise and completely dupes both the lovesick Orsino and the seemingly frigid Olivia, together with both their households. Other plays likewise use the theme of a disguise, in which a woman tricks others into thinking she is a man, or another woman. Rosalind, in As You Like It, for instance, disguises herself as a young man when banished to the forest, and thereby is able not only to keep herself and her cousin Celia safe but also to win Orlando's love, with extraordinarily wonderful and wide-spread consequences. Helena, in All's Well That Ends Well, disguises herself first as a pilgrim in order to find out the truth about her husband Bertram. She then plays the proverbial bed trick upon him, pretending to be another woman, Diana, whom Bertram wished to bed. In a 'blind Cupid' theme repeatedly followed by Shakespeare, love-or rather passion-made Bertram blind to reality. Real love, of course, is not blind, but feelingly sees the truth-a lesson that Shakespeare clearly wishes us to see.

The Tempest portrays the loving couple, Ferdinand and Miranda, helped by Prospero, as privy to seeing the truth-even to the seeing of spirits summoned by Prospero to entertain them. By contrast, the three 'men of sin' see the island as an inhospitable desert, and the good spirit Ariel as a harpie, and the king's son, Ferdinand, as lost to them, drowned in the tempestuous sea. But all is not what it seems, and at the end of the play all is revealed as it really is, with no one harmed and evil desires and thoughts largely redeemed and forgiven. Prospero is then able to throw off his disguise and reveal who he really is, and be restored to his rightful place in the world that had been usurped by his younger brother.

In A Midsummer Night's Dream, a magical potion mistakenly poured into the eyes of the wrong person creates a mix-up of lovers. Another potion is used to dissolve this state of affairs and restore the lovers to a more accurate condition of love, better than before, in which, again, the truth is finally revealed. The fairy queen, Titania, is herself a 'victim' of this trickery, and for a while believes she is in love with a man with an ass's head. But the end result is good.

Even in the tragedies, the end result of all mistaken identity is some kind of resolution, in which love and compassion is evoked from various hearts, some of which before were stony, others already generous. In King Lear the proud old king is deceived by his eldest two daughters, and is blind to the love of his youngest daughter, Cordelia. His mad passion of anger as well as pride causes him to make some disastrous judgements and decisions, leading to some terrible consequences. His councillor, Gloucester, is likewise deceived, but in this instance by his ill-meaning bastard son, Edmund. Banishment, torture, murder and war follow, but Cordelia's love for her father, Edgar's love for his father, and Kent and the fool's love for their king, awaken Lear's love and clear Gloucester's inner sight. Edgar, importantly, is able to successfully give his love and assistance in the disguise of poor, mad Tom. Like the professional fools of the plays, he pretends to be other than he really is. Jaques, in As You Like It, longs to be such a motley-clad fool, so as to 'cleanse the foul body of th'infected world'.

In Hamlet the king, Hamlet's uncle, conceals his murder of Hamlet's father, but Hamlet, by pretending to be mad and using a play to help him, draws out his uncle's guilt and makes it plain to see. In Macbeth, the usurper Macbeth is defeated because he chooses to believe in a folk tale told him by witches, and therefore believes he sees Burnham Wood approaching him across the river and plain, to meet him at his castle of Dunsinane. For him that is the beginning of the end, and, from the play's point of view, his tyranny is subsequently replaced by the reign of a better king.

In Cymbeline, a tragicomedy referred to as a romance, Posthumus is easily convinced by the supposed evidence and lies that Iachimo says about Posthumus' wife Imogen, the king's imprisoned daughter. With anger and jealousy aroused in a terrible way, he orders his servant Pisanio to murder the innocent Imogen. Pisanio, however, helps Imogen to escape, disguise herself as a man and seek service with the Roman ambassador. After further plots, disguises and mistaken identities, a war, deaths and remorse, all is revealed at the end, reconciliations take place, the king's abducted sons are restored to him, and a friendly peace is established between Britain and Rome.

In all these cases the truth is, at first, concealed, and only revealed at the end of each play. The effect of each concealment, disguise or trick, in which pseudonyms are used, and the subsequent revealing of the truth, is to enable an almost magical resolution of a situation that was previously inharmonious, unenlightened and, in some cases, almost unbearable. The process is what the ancients would call 'alchemy', and the author Shakespeare shows himself a master of its art.

But, who was the author Shakespeare? About this there really is an enigma. To solve this, it is worth remembering the old adage that a good teacher teaches by example, not just by word of mouth or writing. In this instance there seems to be another play in progress, in which we are the characters, the world is the stage, and all is not what it seems. Although at first sight the author Shakespeare might appear to be the actor by that name from Stratford-upon-Avon, the mounting evidence in fact points to another and far more worthy conclusion. Like Hermione, Hero, Cordelia, Imogen and Edgar, the true author's good name has been unjustly slandered and reviled. Like them, the author Shakespeare chose to remain concealed, but only in order one day to be revealed.

The book, The Shakespeare Enigma, tells this story -- a story not just about the true author Shakespeare and his elaborate concealment, but also about the origins and involvement of the Rosicrucian Fraternity, the birth of modern Freemasonry and the operation of a remarkable literary studio in England under the leadership of 'Shakespeare' and his 'twin'.

 

© Peter Dawkins, 2004

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Peter Dawkins during a lecture at the Beverly Hills, CA. Library, July 31, 04