After Tuesday's visit to the Boston Public Library's Shakespeare exhibit, I was struck by the realization that in actuality, all that modern society accredits to "Shakespeare" cannot be accurately described this way. Certainly, he was the mastermind behind some powerful plays, and I don't doubt that he was a real person, as some conspiracy theories suggest. Despite all of this though, the touch of a posthumous editor or the blurred conversion between spoken plays and written books can and has drastically altered the works of this playwright from four hundred years ago, as evidenced in the exhibit. What if Shakespeare's original writings wouldn't even be recognizable in comparison to the modern versions we've all read?
Although this thought rattles certain conceptions many have long held in regards to Shakespeare, I think the most important thing to consider is whether or not this idea that Hamlet and Macbeth may have been more of a group project actually detracts from the value of the final work. Would we revere Shakespeare less if it was proven that he had help, if we had to admit that he had been co-authored, edited, or helped? After seeing the displays and the facts within them, it's nearly impossible to avoid acknowledging that Shakespeare was not entirely a one-man show. Along with that, it can't really be denied that his influence is wide-reaching, case-in-point: the Boston Public Library has an entire exhibit devoted to him and Boston University Kilachand Honors College offers a seminar on him each year. I think the most important thing I've come away from this exhibit understanding is that Shakespeare's works remain integral to our society even if he may not have worked entirely alone, and it may have been posthumously altered.