Although many books have been written about the life of Shakespeare, so little is known to us, -say, he was born at Stratford in 1564, went to London, wrote plays himself or with other contemporaies, returned to his native place and died there in 1616. Considering that even these facts are questionable, it may be said that we know almost nothing about his life. As for the personality of Shakespeare, we can hardly recognize it. From some allusions of his contemporary poets and dramatists, we cannot learn his personal characteristics except his 'gentleness' or 'friendliness.' Under such circumstances scholars and critics take different views on the characteristisc of his personality. Frank Harris, author of The Man Shakespeare, maintains that many dramatis personae, such as Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth etc. reveal each some qualities of the writer himself, on the ground that it is the life-work of the artist to show his own individuality in his works. Bradley suggests, in his essay "Shakespeare the Man," that he recognizes something of Shakespeare in the plays, but that the reasonable certainty is only within narrow limits beyond which we have to trust to impressions. On the other hand, Sidney Lee says that Shakespeare's writings were written with objective attitude and they are independent of his individuality: in other words, Shakespeare expressed his age, not his own self. E. E. Stoll also seems to take this non-individualistic theory in his Shakespeare Studies. Then, how should we think about Shakespeare's personality? We cannot but think that he described all the social scenes of Elizabethan age that he saw by as much depersonalization as possible. He did not make it his object to express himself in his works, unlike such subjective writer as Goethe. But at the same time we cannot but feel that some of his charcteristics are seen among the dramatic characters, for any writer, I think, cannot be absolutely non-personal in his writings. I am led to conclude that Shakespeare had a super-individualistic individuality (if we may call) greater than any other poet or dramatist.
Part I. A brief outline of his life-the supposed influences of Dr. John King; the Zoe King problem-his continental student life-his desire and prospect of completing a life work-the theme of The Last Man-Death's Jest Book-unfavourable criticism-darkest disillusionment-the revision of Death's Jest Book-back home in 1846, glances upon his later peculiarities-nihilistic ideas and his mysterious-death. Part II. His character in general as understood from his life-his Welsh blood-the Welsh people and the Welsh supernaturalism-examples from Mabinogion-Beddoes' supernaturalism being essentially of the same nature as these-its springheads-(1) his inborn character-his delicate sense of beauty-his love of the grotesque and supernatural-the influences of the School of Terror and his prose romance Scaroni written-when fifteen-that this tendency had pervaded his daily life, as well as his views of life and of the world-examples especially from his juvenile works-(2) the rationalistic surroundings-that he did not regard Anatomy incompatible with literature-that' familiarity scraped for him the grim disgusting side away from Anatomy and Death-that thus the two conflicting elements in his character came to be combined by means of his familiarity with the macabre, the grotesque. The combination of the beautiful and the grisly discussed with examples-Beddoes' characteristic tendency to see things of the common daily life under the phases of the supernatural, and to view the supernatural under the phases of the common and ordinary-Time and its imagery-his "Eternity"-his colour-sense-"dew," rain, "ocean"-"rim," "fringe," "margin," "tip"-complex overlapping imagery prominent in later years. Beddoes' lifelong adoration of Shelley-that they were both attracted to the macabre, the grotesque, and the grisly-the reversal of life and death in Shelley; that this "life" is the real Death, and the so-called "death" the real Life; Shelley's mystical conviction-Beddoes regarding life and death as essentially the same thing, while assuming an evasive, though familiar, attitude towards' the latter: "Death, a jest"-his "ghosts," essentially a living Man-The Old Ghost-the sorrowfulness expressed in the poem nothing but a representation of -his mind, aloof and solitary without anyone to comprehend or to offer conslation-to.