The Tragedy Of Edward de Vere

Roland Emmerich’s Anonymous (Roland Emmerich, 2011) is a conspiracy thriller that is predicated on half-truth history to present a dramatic tragedy about the life of Edward de Vere, The 17th Earl of Oxford. Commonly known as the Oxfordian Theory of Shakespearean authorship, Emmerich presents The Earl of Oxford as the true author of the works of William Shakespeare. The movie takes us back and forth through moments of de Vere’s life. After the passing of his father, de Vere is raised by William Cecil, the Queen’s advisor. Cecil, a shrewd and ruthless character, forces de Vere to give up the “sinfulness” of playwriting and focus on the important qualities exhibited by other Oxfords and Royals alike.Repressed throughout his childhood, de Vere continues to write but through an unlikely chain of events, is forced into a marriage with Cecil’s daughter after having an affair with Queen Elizabeth. Elizabeth is found to be pregnant with the Earl of Oxford’s child but de Vere is not to know. When de Vere finds out that his son is the Earl of Southampton, he takes him under his wing without revealing his true relation to him.  After attending a play, de Vere is struck by the power of impression exhibited in the theatre so he strikes up a contract with a playwright, Benjamin Johnson to publish and perform his plays under an anonymous name so long as de Vere doesn’t receive any credit, as he fears Cecil would kill him. William Shakespeare, an actor who is portrayed as an illiterate and drunk, lays claim to de Vere’s play after the first performance receives much acclaim, thus beginning the Shakespearean era. What follows in the film is a lieu of twists and turns, as Edward de Vere continues his life of anonymity and repression only finding refuge in what is kept secret. Through various elements characteristic of myth, psychoanalysis and, ironically, Shakespearean style, de Vere is portrayed as a tragic hero. With the use of these archetypal characteristics, Anonymous (Roland Emmerich, 2011) seeks to evoke doubt in the audience about the Shakespearean authorship claim. 

 Topic sentence 1: Through de Vere’s unrequited love with Cecil’s daughter, Anonymous contains a classical element characteristic of Greek mythology.

Topic sentence 2: Alluding to Freud’ Oedipus complex, de Vere falls in love with Queen Elizabeth, not knowing she is indeed his mother.

Topic sentence 3: Through the repression of his identity as a writer and as a true heir to the throne of England, de Vere exhibits tragic character qualities reminiscent of those found in the works of Shakespeare. (While this is fairly broad, I haven’t had the time to point out one Shakespearean character that best represents de Vere but I plan on doing that for my paper.)

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