Friday, November 15, 2013

William and Anne and Their Not-So-Lovely Love Story

In the fifth grade my very eccentric English teacher informed me of my possible, yet probably not, relation to Anne Hathaway, William Shakespeare’s wife. I figured since we’re reading Shakespeare, I may as well do some research on my maybe relative. What I found was kind of a bummer. I figured William Shakespeare, the writer of the single most intense love story of all time, may have had a pretty romantic personal life.. I was wrong. In fact, most people think Shakespeare was trapped into marrying my really great-maybe-grandma. 
When Shakespeare was 18 and Anne was 26, she got pregnant. As we saw with Ophelia's conversation with her brother and father, for a women to get pregnant or even have sex before marriage was a major scandal. Shakespeare had to marry Anne to save both of their reputations, as well as the reputation of his ambitious family. Even worse, the marriage documents indicate Shakespeare may have been involved with another women. The documents refer to two women: Anne Hathaway of Stratford and Anne Whateley of Temple Grafton. It is possible that Shakespeare intended to marry Anne Whateley, but when Anne Hathaway showed up pregnant, he quickly had the documents altered so they could get married and avoid social suicide. Moreover, Shakespeare, being only 18 at the time, was under the age of consent, which was 21. Meaning, his father could have had the documents arranged and forced Shakespeare into the marriage wether he was willing or not. William and Anne were married six months before the birth of their first child Susanna.
For most of their marriage, Shakespeare lived in London becoming a major success, while Anne remained in Stratford her entire life. When Shakespeare died, the only mention he made of Anne in his will was to leave her his "second best bed."There are so many speculations on what this means that I can hardly summarize it. However, Anne would have legally gotten one third of his estate, seeing as that was the law. When Anne died she was buried next to her husband.
In conclusion, from what I've gather, Anne and William didn't have the most romantic marriage. However, keep in mind that most of what is known about their marriage is speculation. For instance, what if the person writing the marriage documents had dyslexia and just messed up the spelling of Anne's last name. We really can't know for sure. 

1 comment:

Megan Hoolahan said...

That's actually very interesting. I vaguely remember talking about this in class last year. I always thought of Shakespeare as a hopeless romantic with a dark side. Although many of his tragedies are filled with head-over-heels relationships, they typically end in death. I wouldn't imagine Shakespeare to have a wife that he wasn't hopelessly in love with. But then again, the lovers in his tragedies never end up "happily ever after" but dead in graves.