M isconceptions over Macaulay and the Friedmans proved sufficient to cause many anti-Stratfordians to shy away from the Baconian camp. The Strats (for the time being) were breathing a sigh of relief. However, the “Shakespeare Problem” refused to go away.
Quite conveniently, in 1920, an English school teacher by the name of Thomas Looney extrapolated a third possible Shakespearean author in his book Shakespeare Identified . Looney correlated places and events mentioned in the Shakespeare works with the travels and circumstances in the life of Edward De Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford. Furthermore, De Vere made a somewhat compelling match with many of the criteria essential for the Shakespeare authorship. Looney’s book became the ideal ploy for misdirecting attention away from the Baconian trail.
For, if it is true to say that in essence the tragic hero is intent upon claiming his whole due as a personality, and if this struggle must be total and without reservation, then it automatically demonstrates the indestructible will of man to achieve his humanity. The possibility of victory must be there in tragedy. Where pathos rules, where pathos is finally derived, a character has fought a battle he could not possibly have won. The pathetic is achieved when the protagonist is, by virtue of his witlessness, his insensitivity or the very air he gives off, incapable of grappling with a much superior force. Pathos truly is the mode for the pessimist. But tragedy requires a nicer balance between what is possible and what is impossible. And it is curious, although edifying, that the plays we revere, century after century, are the tragedies. In them, and in them alone, lies the belief--optimistic, if you will, in the perfectibility of man. It is time, I think, that we who are without kings, took up this bright thread of our history and followed it to the only place it can possible lead in our time--the heart and spirit of the average man.