CAROLINE PAXTON, Contributor
In the characteristic fashion of Beloit College, the 2012 Keefer and Keefer lecturer strutted down the steps of Richardson Auditorium on Wednesday Sept. 5, at 8 p.m. “Life is a tale told by idiots,” Dr. Tom McBride, Keefer professor of humanities, began quoting Shakespeare’s Macbeth, in his intellectual discussion, “Did Shakespeare Really Write Shakespeare?”
Many people know McBride for his annual, nationally recognized, “Mindset List,” and McBride’s lectures are equally popular. The faculty in attendance included English professors Steve Wright, Chris Fink, Diane Lichtenstein, and Francesca Abbate. Students were also delighted to see that President Scott Bierman had come out to hear McBride speak.
The lecture began with a personal confession of McBride’s delight at the “larger than to be expected crowd,” and admitting to his short-lived consideration of renaming the lecture “Shakespeare, The Sexual Fiend” in order to attract a larger crowd.
McBride touched on several “anti-Stratfordian” theories involving frauds who were said to have personified Shakespeare. The list included Sir Francis Bacon for his controversial republican political philosophies, Edward Belvidere for his alleged illegitimate child that he bore with Queen Elizabeth I, Christopher Marlowe for his fear of being executed by the Catholic church for professing his atheism, and W. Evans Darby for “God knows why.”
McBride, a loyal supporter of the belief that Shakespeare did in fact write Shakespeare, disproved the argument that Shakespearean plays were fraudulently penned because William Shakespeare never attained a formal education. Comparing William Faulkner and F. Scott Fitzgerald to assist his argument, McBride stated, “Fitzgerald attended university at Princeton while Faulkner received only a high school education and we know that Faulkner is by far the more complex writer of the two.” McBride added with a rhetorical zeal, “One can be among the greats of writers without a university education…Although for you Beloit students in the audience I will still highly argue in favor of you completing your education,” receiving a burst of laughter from the audience in return.
In the conclusion of his argument, McBride proclaimed, great Charles Dickens disprove the “anti-Stratfordian” theory, calling Dickens the ultimate “ill-educated, yet never disputed” literary master. Before shifting his focus to John Milton. “There was never any question that Milton wrote Milton because, after all, Milton went to Cambridge,” McBride stated.
With satirical irony, McBride roused every member of the audience into ovation including the many community members in attendance, and confidently defended his beloved Shakespeare.