Is Hair Cell Regeneration in Humans Possible?

September 5th, 2010 Comments off

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Hair cell damage in the inner ear is becoming increasingly more common. More children, and adults, are exposing themselves to loud noises via concerts or headphones, and there are other various environmental factors as well. There are medicines and ototoxins, diseases, and overstimulization issues that also contribute to hair cell damage. Since this is becoming a more common issue, researchers are developing ways to regenerate the hair cells within the inner ear. This is necessary because the loss of hair cells can lead to hearing loss. Additionally, it can lead to problems with balance and the overall quality of life. While hair cell regeneration in humans is a possibility of the future, it will not be successful without further research and development.

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The loss of hair cells in the inner ear leads to a sensorineural hearing loss. This type of loss usually occurs in the cochlea, which is within the inner ear and it is vital to processing sound as it is the primary organ of hearing (Cotanche, 2008). This type of loss is very difficult to treat as hair cells do not reproduce on their own, so once they are lost, the loss is permanent. Sensorineural hearing loss occurs due to hair cell loss, damage, hair cell degeneration, and other various sources (Izumikawa, Minoda, Kawamoto, Abrashkin, Swiderski, Dolan, et al. 2005).

To explain the difficulty in regenerating hair cells, it is best to cover some of the anatomy of how the cochlea works in the hearing process. This will provide a better understanding of treatment. Once sound enters the ear, it changes from acoustic to mechanical energy in the middle ear. From the middle ear, it is sent to the inner ear where it changes from mechanical to hydraulic energy. When the wave of energy reaches the cochlea, it changes back to mechanical energy, and then chemical energy within the hair cells. The transduction process is vital for hearing, as the brain cannot process acoustic energy. If the chemical process is absent or minimal, the brain cannot process the sound, and thus hearing will be impaired. (Hume, Oesterlie, Raible, Rubel, & Stone, 2010).

In cell development, there are sensory and nonsensory supporting cells (Ozeki, Oshima, Senn, Kurihara, & Kaga, 2007).   They alternate in their development, with nonsensory supporting cells at the bottom holding the sensory hair cells into place.   According to the lateral inhibition theory of cell development, the supporting cells replace the hair cells when they are damaged, and then more supporting cells are recreated as needed.   The supporting cells divide without assistance to replace the missing cells.   This is the ideal cure to hair cell regeneration and knowledge of how this process works is vital to researchers.   With this information, it enables them to find a way to recreate this cell division process.   In the bird’s organ of hearing, they are capable of this self repair.   However, in humans it is still being assessed as merely a possibility.   The problem is that this type of cell division does not happen spontaneously in the human organ of hearing.   Researchers are still developing ways to make this event happen through the use of growth hormones, stem cells, genes, etc.   (Walshe, et al. 2003)

            As mentioned, human hair cells do not regenerate on their own, and this was because not all cells have the ability to divide (White, Doetzlhofer, Yun Shain, Groves, & Segil, 2006).   One of the biggest challenges for researchers was getting cells to divide that normally do not possess this ability.   Once the hair cells were damaged or lost, it resulted in hearing loss, or even the possibility of a cochlear implant to enable hearing.   Again, hearing loss may cause balance issues as there are hair cells in the vestibular system.   (Ozeki, et al. 2007)

            Why are birds able to regenerate cells and humans cannot?   Birds, however, had the ability to regenerate hair cells automatically, once they were lost or damaged.   Researchers are currently still studying these animals to find out why they possess this ability.   Thus far, they have discovered that birds were able to restore neural connections as a functional unit.   This means that instead of having different cells, performing various functions and regenerating separately, in birds they regenerated as a whole. (Walshe, et al. 2003).

            A more in-depth look at bird’s regenerative ability revealed that once a bird’s hair cell was lost or damaged, the auditory nerve retreated from the cell (Matsui & Ryals, 2005).   Once the innervation was removed, the process of replacing the cell could begin.   A signal came down from the Notch, notifying the bird’s organ of hearing to begin the replacement process (Stone & Rubel, 2000).   Bird’s have a different organ of hearing than humans.   The basilar papilla in a bird is similar to the cochlea in a human.   It controls the hearing process and in their case, hair cell regeneration.   (Hume, Oesterlie, Raible, Rubel, & Stone, 2010). Their hair cells then had the ability to proliferate, or to multiply excessively as needed to repair themselves.   After the cells multiply, they transdifferated or replaced the dead cells, and then they were re-innervated by the auditory nerve.   This is an amazing process that occurs automatically within birds. (Stone & Rubel, 2000)

            When looking at possibilities for hair cell regeneration within humans, proliferation and transdifferation are two proposed options for repair and both are dependent upon each other.   During the proliferation process, cells multipled rapidly in order to replace the damaged or dead cells.   However, in the transdiffereration process, the proliferated cells were stimulated in an attempt to repair the damaged cell.   Stimulation allowed the cell to divide, and while the new division replaced the supporting cell, the supporting cell took place of the damaged hair cell.   One of the main concerns with this process was the restructuring of the cells.   Would this change alter the organ of Corti in humans?   If it does, what is the affect this would have on hearing?   The only way this process will be effective is if the transdifferated cell replaces itself.   What could happen if the cell does not replace itself?   Would there be a bunching of supporting cells, or even possibly missing supporting cells?   If supporting cells are missing, will there be a space and nothing to hold on to the newly generated hair cell?   These are questions that researchers are still trying to answer before conducting experiments in humans, and most definitely before approving this type of resolution as valid for hair cell regeneration. (Mastui, et al. 2005).

                To recreate the proliferation process in humans, genes must be present or injected as this does not happen naturally (Matsui, et al. 2005).     Additionally, Kopke, Jackson, Geming, Rasmussen, Hoffer, & Frenz (2001) found that insulin can increase the cell response.   Thus, if the cell does not proliferate after being exposed to the gene, insulin can be added to increase the likelihood that it will divide.

            The primary gene involved in proliferation is Atoh1.   Once injected into the organ of Corti, it can function as a non-expressing supporting cell, an expressing hair cell, or it can even be expressed but not function as a sensory cell (Ozeki, et al. 2007).   Atoh1 regulates “common cellular precursor’s” in cell differentiation, which is why it is seen as the primary gene in hair cell regeneration.   (Izumikawa, et al. 2005).

                Matsui et al. (2005) used microarray to establish which gene was expressed and its location.   This assessment was great for inner ear analysis given the specificity and intricate structures.   Additionally, they were able to look at transcription factors to determine which genes played specific roles.   Their results found that there were six-hundred factors in both the vestibular and auditory system, and only forty in one organ.  

            Another theory involved in hair cell regeneration or cell development, is the use of growth factors.   They are associated with the differentiation and proliferation process, but suggest that instead of genes, these growth factors cause the regeneration (Kopke, et al. 2001). Matsui et al. (2001) suggests that macrophages, or white blood cells, are housed within tissue and they go to the dying cells.   Once in the vicinity, they either repair or remove the dying cell.   This process most frequently occurs after some type of trauma.   A flaw with this theory was that the researchers were unclear of the current function of the macrophages within the inner ear of humans.   Obviously, this process was not currently working spontaneously, as humans cannot regenerate cells without assistance.   However, researchers would like to better understand this process within the inner ear to determine if hair cell regeneration is possible by the production of growth factors in general. (Oregon Health & Sciences University, 2008).

                Other significant contributors to the process of proliferation are leukocytes-activators or “progenitor cell proliferation” (Stone & Rubel, 2000).   There were three subtypes of progenitors that may play a role in this process.   The first was the neuronal-colony-forming type which were the most similar to stem cells (Stone, Choi, Wooley, Yamashita, Rubel, 1999).   The second and third type were the progency and mash1 which had very little proliferate ability. These variances in progenitor cells may explain the differences in regeneration.   Furthermore, it may also explain why other animals can regenerate while humans cannot.   Additional research needs to be conducted to determine the exact role these ‘activators’ play in the proliferation process.   (Stone & Rubel, 2000).

            The transdifferation process, in comparison to proliferation, is about as complex.   In this process, the cells are transformed from supporting cells into hair cells (Ozeki, et al. 2007).   This process can be initiated by the use of the gene Atoh1 as well as Retinoic acid (Kopke, et al. 2001) and (White, et al. 2006).   One flaw in this process is that the hair cell may not always be functional after transformation (Kopke, et al. 2001).   This is because the cell needs a brain-derived neurotrophic factor which is provides a neurological connection and lack of it can prevent function of the generated hair cell.     Furthermore, it is important for vestibular ganglion neurons to survive, it protects neurons from ototoxins which may cause future damage to the cell, and when combined with insulin and retinoic it is known to cause vestibular function.   Ideally, this means once we get control of how this process works, we could possibly treat some balance disorders.   Given all of this information, it is important to note that neural elements are not needed for the regeneration process itself and it does not affect the production of hair cells; it is only necessary for function and innervations of the hair cell (Stone & Rubel, 2000).

            Now that there is a better understanding of the anatomical process involved in the inner ear, it is best to assess the proposed treatments for human hair cell regeneration.   The first treatment was the reconstruction of the organ of Corti.   Ideally, Ozeki et al. (2007) found that doctors should inject progenitor cells into the inner ear.   After the injections, the hope was that the cells would differentiate on their own into supporting or hair cells as necessary.   This meant that the supporting cells would differentiate into hair cells, and more supporting cells would be created.

The second proposed treatment was stem cell transplant. This became a possibility because stem cells had many properties that were beneficial to humans. Additionally, they had very similar properties to supporting cells, could generate in large numbers, and could take the form of different types of cells (Matsui, et al. 2005). One drawback of this treatment was the uncertainty if the new cell would be functional. An additional avenue of this type of treatment was to find out if progenitor cells could act like stem cells (Stone & Rubel, 2000).

As researchers progress in finding a successful treatment for regenerating hair cells within the inner ear, there are still many questions to be answered about the process. For one, why do only our vestibular cells show the possibility of regeneration (Matsui, et al. 2005)? This is interesting because Matsui et al. (2005) found that hair cells regenerate spontaneously in the vestibule but not in the cochlea. Is it possible that vestibular cells do not need a replacement cell? Why is it that the auditory system cells do not regenerate (Rubel, 2005)? Do supporting cells lack a replacement cell; are there unknown gene functions; are signals being blocked that regulate cell regeneration (White, et al. 2006)? Until these questions are answered, significant research still needs to be conducted in this area of treatment.

The possibility that hair cell regeneration will someday lead to the restoration of hearing still exists. Many avenues have been addressed by various researchers ranging in everything from genes, growth factors, and stem cell replacement. However, if research reaches the point where hair cell regeneration is successful, this does not resolve the issue of whether hair cell regeneration alone can restore hearing in a hearing impaired individual. There is still the idea that not all regenerated cells will be functional and innervated, and the regeneration process may not provide full regeneration. Thus, the result will still be a hearing impairment. Unless hair cell regeneration can overcome all of these obstacles, the need for a cochlear implant may still be necessary.

References

1. Cotanche, D. (2008). Genetic and pharmacological intervention for treatment/prevention of hearing loss. Journal of Communication Disorders, 41(5): 421-43.

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The Life and Times of William Shakespeare (Biography) (Part 5)

July 25th, 2010 Comments off

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It has been stated that Francis Bacon may have written the plays, but since he viewed authorship as a lowly profession, not wanting it to be associated with his name, he used the name of a common peasant living in Stratford. Upon closer study of both Bacon’s and Shakespeare’s work’s, no correlation can be found as the styles of both writers sharply contrasted each other’s. Also there is no foreseeable connection between Shakespeare’s life and Bacon’s life, suggesting that they never came into contact. Bacon who thought that the classical language of Latin was far more superior than the quaint jargon of English, wrote mostly in Latin where as Shakespeare wrote almost solely in his native language. The few English works of Bacon do not show as much imaginative exploration of metaphors or other literary techniques as did Shakespeare’s works did. Bacon, being a well known man about town, would have found it quite difficult to keep such a secret. Many analysts in support of the Bacon theory have pronounced that there are hidden messages in Cryptograms in William Shakespeare’s plays. The Great Cryptogram by Ignatius Donnelly was published in 1888, claiming to have direct evidence that Bacon was the author of plays that were supposedly written by Shakespeare. This book explained in great detail how one can find these messages in the First Folio, however Shakespeare’s plays contained so many words as a whole, it could be quite easy to identify hidden messages. Some disbelieving critics of Shakespeare’s plays concluded that no one man could have possibly written so many fine works of literary art as this versifier did in his lifetime. Perhaps, they state, all thirty-seven were drafted by a entire committee of

skilled writers, all agreeing to use the pseudonym “Shakespeare”. Not uncommon was it for more than one writer to work in partnership with another one a single play during Elizabethan times. Despite these startling remarks, most level headed critics believe that William Shakespeare was actually the author of his own plays. (William Shakespeare)

Other contenders for the versifier’s crown include Edward de Vere, the seventeenth Earl of Oxford, Christopher Marlowe, and even Queen Elizabeth I. The contemporary of Shakespeare, Edward de Vere, represents the idea that a commoner could never have written such ingenious works. A well educated and worldly man, Edward de Vere of Queen Elizabeth I’s court, has seemed to many a likely author of the thirty seven works conventionally thought of as written by William Shakespeare. Another candidate is Christopher Marlowe, who although presumed dead in 1593, having been stabbed to death in a tavern brawl, still lived to pen Shakespeare’s works. Some believe that his death was faked and that Marlowe, an occasional spy in the employ of the Queen, lived long enough to complete all of “Shakespeare’s” plays. Other notable contenders include William Stanley, Earl of Derby; Ben Johnson; Thomas Middleton; Sir Walter Raleigh; and even the Queen herself. There have been many speculations concerning the authorship of William Shakespeare’s plays, but none have been concrete enough to seriously threaten to discredit the famous troubadour.

The primary reason that many speculations of Shakespeare’s identity have arisen over the centuries is the question ever lingering inside of the minds of anyone who has even read one of his plays. How could such a simple country boy with an education only a high school diploma write such timeless masterpieces. A controversy has even arisen because some scholars believe that William Shakespeare was illiterate. Four documents with his signature have survived over the centuries, most hardly legible and even spelled differently. Factual knowledge, intricate theories, and deep philosophical ideas as well as marvelous writing ability flow freely through each and ever one of Shakespeare’s works. Although Shakespeare had previously been thought of as an absolute genius, one must realize that not all the reflection in his plays is his own original conceptualizing. Shakespeare, through the knowledge of being a worldly man, could have written such immortal plays with the creativity and pure intelligence that he possessed without ever going to university or studying any certain subject in depth.

Ultimately, one can clearly see that William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon lived a very controversial life full of mystery, myths, and legends. By disproving all of the incorrect theories and bringing light of those ones not proven to the modern reader about Shakespeare’s life, one can learn what a truly magnificent writer the bard was as he made his eternal stamp in literature.

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The Life and Times of William Shakespeare (Biography) (Part 4)

July 25th, 2010 Comments off

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” (Gray) This passage is notable because it clearly refers to William Shakespeare and is the first documentary evidence that Shakespeare has risen to prominence in London. The importance of the passage shows to the modern reader several truths of Shakespeare’s life at the time to be evident. He had become successful to make Greene and other peers jealous and had become well known throughout the professional world of London theater. Also he was a man known for his numerous abilities including acting, play writing, and play mending. When the pamphlet was published after Greene’s death, its preface, which was written by an acquaintance of Greene, apologized to Shakespeare and acknowledged his growing importance.

In London Shakespeare lived alone in rented accommodations while his wife and children remained in Stratford. Why his family did not move to London is unknown. Some scholars speculate that it was Anne’s wish to live apart from her husband because she reportedly had a Puritan background. The Puritans looked upon the theater as a path to all wickedness.

When an epidemic of the Bubonic Plague closed the theatres in 1592, the resourceful bard wrote plays and other poetry until the theatres reopened in 1594. In that year, he joined a newly formed drama company known as The Lord Chamberlain’s Men. As a part of this group he acted as writer and played principle roles as well as taking upon himself the management of the company. They performed publicly at the Blackfriar in the beginning, a theatre built by James Burage in 1576 north of the city.

Theatres within London boundaries were often closed to halt the spread of infectious diseases or heavily fined if reopened. The Lord Chamberlain’s had been forced into a year’s idleness by this law and during this time when new plays were not in demand, Shakespeare began to write poetry. In 1593 he dedicated the lengthy poem Venus and Adonis to Henry Wriothesley, the Earl of Southampton and the Baron of Titchfield. Also dedicated to the Earl of Southampton was the Rape of Lucrece, Shakespeare’s second poem printed in 1594. After several years of inactivity, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men moved to the site of the Globe across the river where they would no longer be subject to London’s law that closed all theaters. Always industrious, The Lord Chamberlain’s Men did actually move their old theatre. The actors and stagehands carried away every timber of the Blackfriar theatre on a warm summer’s evening in 1598 and used them to construct the Globe, even though the previous theatre had only been leased, not purchased. The owner was away on business at the time, and upon his return, he sued the company. The Lord Chamberlain’s Men won the lawsuit, making the Globe their more permanent home.

William Shakespeare solidly established himself with the reassembling of the playing companies of London after the reopening of theaters when their popularity peaked. Not only were The Lord Chamberlain’s Men the most popular company at they time, they were the favorites of Queen Elizabeth, a patron of theatres across London, who invited them to act for her every Christmas at the palace. For several years, The Lord Chamberlain’s Men alone held the privilege to act for the Queen on this holy day. Shakespeare himself was able through his great success to sell octavo editions or “penny copies” to the literate people in his audience. Never before had a playwright been so well loved within his own time that his plays were sold like novels. Shakespeare quickly became a sharer and householder in The Lord Chamberlain’s Men acting company, sharing in the profits as part owner. The revenues from this position provided him the economic stability necessary for him to write freely without burden while he was the company’s primary playwright, producing approximately two plays a year before his retirement in 1612.

In conclusion, not much is known about the personal and professional life of William Shakespeare, the most superlative, renowned playwright and poet that has ever existed. According to George Steevens, a knowledgeable Shakespearean scholar of the 1700s, “All that is known with any degree of certainty concerning Shakespeare, is that he was born at Stratford-upon-Avon, married and had children there, went to London, where he commenced actor, and wrote poems and plays. ” (Classic Notes: About William Shakespeare) Certainly records from Elizabethan England are not as detailed as records from more modern times, but we know more about Shakespeare than we know about most playwrights from his era. Scholars have discerned that he existed for they have all the major documentation of his life and have even found the costuming bills from his theatre company.

Philosophers have fumbled with accusations that William Shakespeare may have not written plays or poems at all, but instead allowed Francis Bacon to use his name or a committee of intellectually brilliant authors to write in collaboration with the pen name “Shakespeare”.

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The Life and Times of William Shakespeare (Biography) (Part 3)

July 25th, 2010 Comments off

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The banns were asked only once in church instead of the traditional three times, because the bride was some three months pregnant. In the year of his marriage, Shakespeare worked in Stratford with an income of some kind. William’s and Anne’s first daughter, Susanna was born on May 23, 1583. Later on February 2, 1585, Richard Barton of Coventry christened Hamnet and Judith, the couple’s twins, whose birth date is uncertain.

From the birth of the twins until his first appearance in London as a troubadour, there is no record of what William Shakespeare was doing or where he was. During these years, stretching from the mid-1850s to the early 1590s, speculation runs rampant, and these years are romantically termed “lost”. It is very important to emphasize the emotional closeness and stamina of his family link, because numerous biographers have over-stressed the significance of Shakespeare’s lost years. Many imagine that Shakespeare completely deserted his wife and three children in search of an unclear aspiration, yet there is no indication that he even left home. The view of love that he constantly displayed indicated his fondness of his family, and it would seem odd for him to abandon his new wife and three young children at this point in his life.

There is no evidence of Shakespeare’s professional career after he left grammar school and married Anne Hathaway. It is relatively certain that William Shakespeare never proceeded to university schooling. If he had continued his education onto the university level, his Greek allusions would have been broader and manifested differently. Although he did not attend higher level schooling, William probably learned a great deal from the forests and farms surrounding his residence, for his plays suggest he had an extensive knowledge of hunting, hawking, and “the appetite of worms in a rural cemetery. ” (Gay)

Many scholars believe that Shakespeare was a page-boy or a lawyer’s clerk upon leaving grammar school during his “lost” years. If William Shakespeare had been a page-boy, it is supposed that he would have been granted permission to visit nobles and after gaining their support, traveling with them to London. Another reason why many believe Shakespeare was a page-boy is that his father, John Shakespeare, was running very quickly out of money and wanted to use his son’s connection with the household of which he was employed to get back his previous stature. Shakespeare could have conceivably been a lawyer’s clerk, but there is only circumstantial evidence which can be used to draw a conclusion about this theory. Throughout his younger years, William became well acquainted with local Stratford lawyers through his father. John Shakespeare’s professional proceedings in both money-making and local business would have provided young William an excellent opportunity to meet many lawyers. Also William Shakespeare had always been very involved with the purchasing, selling, and leasing of land. Thirdly his most famous plays often contained legal phrases and lawyers, demonstrating an expansive knowledge of the legal system.

The discussion continued as experts proceeded to contemplate Shakespeare’s profession after leaving school. John Aubrey, the author of Brief Lives written during the seventeenth century, states that “He understood Latine pretty well: for he had in his younger yeares a School-master in the Countrey. ” (Evans 20) Perhaps, like many of his contemporaries, he taught school before setting out to write on his own. Aubrey tells another story, “ I have been told heretofore by some of the neighbours, that when he was a boy he exercised his father’s Trade, but when he kill’d a Calfe, he would doe it in a high style, & make a Speech. ” (Evans 21) Many boys of that time period began their occupation as apprentices of their fathers. Another career path that Shakespeare may have taken was to become a soldier of fortune. He seems to be quite knowledgeable in his plays about the soldiering and weaponry used in

military campaigning. Although he could have started his professional life in this way, it is unlikely because he would have left his wife and children in England while going to a foreign country.

For whatever reason, by 1592 Shakespeare had made a place for himself in the theatrical world of London as a playwright and actor, leaving his family behind in Stratford. Perhaps drawn to London by the glamorous reputation of the theatre, many believed that Shakespeare’s first job in London was at the Globe Theatre tending the horses of patrons. Although this cannot possibly be true because the Globe Theatre was not built until 1599, at least ten years after Shakespeare arrived in London, it illustrates his desperation to get near dramaturgy. There can be no doubt that he was in London at this time placing quill against paper. Proof of his presence in London appeared in a 1592 pamphlet written, Groats-worth of Witte by Robert Greene on his deathbed. In this most famous literary snarl, Robert wrote: “for there is an upstart Crow, beautified with our feathers, that with his Tygers hart wrapt in a Players hyde, supposes he is well able to bombast out a blanke verse as the best of you: and beeing an absolute Johannes fac totum, is in his owne conceit the onely Shake-scene in a countrey.

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The Life and Times of William Shakespeare (Biography) (Part 2)

July 25th, 2010 Comments off

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Five of William’s siblings out of the eight lived beyond childhood: the first Joan, who was born in 1558, and Margaret, born in 1562, died as small children, so William was not only the eldest son but eldest surviving child. His brother Gilbert and sister the second Joan lived into adulthood, but Anne, born in 1571, died at the age of eight when William was fifteen. This must have been a very painful loss for William. Also William’s beloved grandmother, old Mrs. Arden as she was often referred to, died just after Christmas in 1580. Edward Arden, high sheriff in 1575 and cousin of William Shakespeare was Catholic, forced to worship in secret. He kept a chaplain, formally disguised as his gardener but well known to be a priest called Father Hall. In Edward Arden’s house allegedly there was wild talk against the Queen. A deranged son-in-law of his, John Someville, is said to have set off for London on a personal mission to kill the Queen. This asinine scheme supposedly was too complicated and abstract to have been contrived by Edward Arden. John Someville frequented the taverns of London, apparently declaring his intentions directed towards the Queen to whomever would listen. He was arrested, and under torture stated that he was in Edward Arden’s empowering and that Father Hall conceptualized the entire plot. John Someville was declared to have strangled himself in prison so that his evidence could not be withdrawn. Father Hall was arrested and then released without a trial, but Edward Arden was hanged, drawn and quartered, and his head stuck on a spike on the London Bridge. Edward was killed when his cousin, William Shakespeare was merely nineteen, producing a anxiety inside of William for his mother’s safety. Since she was a devout Catholic in private, he feared for her life as he had for his cousin’s life.

(Levi 19)

During William Shakespeare’s youth, he was said to have had a very mischievous personality. The Lucy family lived at the great Charlecote Park, three miles outside of Shakespeare’s hometown, Stratford-upon-Avon. In the late seventeenth century, while William Shakespeare was still a young man, it was said that he had poached Sir Thomas Lucy’s deer on several occasions. The first editor of Shakespeare’s plays and biographer of his life, Nicholas Rowe, said that he was arrested and severely punished, consequently leaving Stratford to escape further persecution. Despite these accusations, there is no direct evidence of this story. The fact that there were even deer in Charlecote Park at the end of the sixteenth century is mere speculation. Sir Thomas Lucy, however was very much involved with game-preservation, and so perhaps there could have had several deer roaming in the woods outside of his estate. If William Shakespeare had been proven guilty, which he was not, his punishment would have almost certainly have been payment of three times the damage and costs and imprisonment for three months.

The next documented event in Shakespeare’s life is his marriage to Anne Hathaway on November 28, 1582. In 1582 when William Shakespeare was eighteen, he got the orphan Anne Hathaway pregnant, who was twenty six, eight years his senior. She was of Shottery, a short walk from Stratford through the fields, providing an easy opportunity for Anne and William to meet. Anne’s pregnancy seems to have happened in late September because the child Susanna was born on May 23. At the time, William Shakespeare was a minor, and the last chance for the

calling of the banns before Advent had been missed. So on November 27, 1582 two friends of the bride’s family rode to Bishops court at Worcester to negotiate a special marriage license. The bishop, John Witgift, asked them to get letters from their consenting parents as was required for very young couples. The license was granted on November 28 and the two friends, John Rychardson and Fulke Sandells, both farmers from Stratford-upon-Avon, gave £40 that no hindrance to marriage would later come to pass. The clerk of Worcester court had probably entered the marriage license on his register on the 27th of November; in all probability it took a day to draw up the document. There is no direct documentation of the marriage of William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway although most historians accept that an entry in the Bishop’s register in November of 1582 does not refer to the famous bard. In this register is recorded the issuing of a marriage license to William Shaxpere and Anne Whateley of Temple Grafton. One of the most fascinating mysteries of Shakespeare’s personal life is the question of the identity of Anne Whateley from Temple Grafton. Some observers that the marriage clerk misheard the name Hathaway as Whateley. Others believe that William Shakespeare became engaged to an actual Anne Whateley but their betrothal was broken off when news of Anne Hathaway’s pregnancy spread.

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William Shakespeare of Elizabethan England lived a mysterious and sometimes scandalous existence, causing puzzlement and great fantastic stories, both true and false, to abound. His education remains to be speculated at as does his marriage. After leaving for England, what profession did he take up before appearing on stage? The most prominent mystery surrounding the magnificent bard’s life is the idea that he may have not even written any of his own play or poems at all. Exploring these unknown facts and rumors sheds light on our understanding of the immortal genius.

England’s greatest poet and playwright, William Shakespeare, was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1564, the third of the eight children of John Shakespeare and Mary Arden. According to the parish register of the Holy Trinity Church, he was baptized on April 26, 1564. Following ancient custom, babies in Stratford were baptized on the third day of life, placing William Shakespeare’s date of birth to be April 23, 1564. This date was also marked St. George’s Day and the day of his own death fifty four years later. Young William was born of John Shakespeare, a successful landowner, moneylender, dealer of wool and agricultural goods, and glover. William’s father moved to Stratford-upon-Avon in the mid-sixteenth century, and in 1556 he purchased a home on Greenhill Street, in addition to a house adjoining his place of occupancy on Henley Street. It is in this “double-house” on Henley Street (ninety miles northwest of London) in the county of Warwickshire that the brilliant poet was said to have been born. In 1557, John Shakespeare had married Mary Arden, the mother of William. Her family was Roman Catholic but when she married John Shakespeare she became part of the English church to escape persecution by the Queen. Mary Arden was a land-owning heiress with a fifty-acre estate by the name of Asbies recently inherited from her father, Robert Arden, in 1556. The name of Shakespeare is quite an old one in Warwickshire, dating back as far as 1248, when William Sakspere was executed for thieving. By 1561, John Shakespeare was elected as one of Stratford’s fourteen burgesses where he served as one of two chamberlains, administering government property and revenues. William’s father became an alderman in 1568 and three years later he was elected Bailiff, the modern day equivalent of mayor. Around 1576, John Shakespeare fell upon hard times, losing is council position and was even listed as one of nine mean who failed to go to church for fear of being arrested for their debts.

Little is known about William Shakespeare’s childhood, but what can be deciphered is that it was time in his life with mixed emotion; moments of happiness were stained by heart-breaking tragedies, which perhaps later dictated how he expressed the world through his plays. Stratford-upon-Avon, although a small town, had a long history of excellent free education. It is fairly certain that William Shakespeare attended the King’s New School from the age of seven to thirteen, renamed in Edward’s honor, which at the time had a reputation that rivaled Eton. The teachers of this prestigious grammar school were all graduates of Oxford, so William probably greatly profited from their lessons. Students would spend nine hours a day in school for the entire calendar year and when a student misbehaved, the teachers were allowed to physically punish the student. The only surviving school desk from Stratford is a standing desk, and it has been speculated that on many occasions a schoolmaster would fight off a the winter morning frosts by beating his boys when he first got to the school to warm himself. While there are no records to prove that William Shakespeare attended the King’s New School, adding to the mysteries about his life, his knowledge of Latin and Classical Greek would support this theory. Also Shakespeare’s first biographer, Nicholas Rowe, wrote that John Shakespeare had placed William “for some time in a free school. ” (Pressley) William’s father would have been able to enjoy the absence of tuition for his young son as a benefit of his position. Furthermore, John Shakespeare took a special interest in grammar school, being a member of the committee responsible for major restorations and for nominating the headmaster. More support for this claim comes in his play, The Merry Wives of Windsor, where he re-enacts a school-room scene, right down to the learning of Latin by memorization. In 1575 when William was eleven years old, a great plague swept the country and Queen Elizabeth journeyed out of London to avoid its consequences. She stayed for several days at Kenilworth Castle near Stratford during the hot month of July, enjoying festivities arranged by her host Lord Leicester. It was probable that these events may have made a strong impact on the developing mind of the young poet and playwright.

Throughout the sometimes free spirited, high times of Shakespeare’s youth, he was haunted by growing debts of his father and the deaths of relatives very dear to him.

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A Comparison of Socioeconomic and Institutional Methods of Explaining the Rise of Capitalist Democracy in England (Moore vs. North & Weingast) (Part 2)

July 18th, 2010 Comments off

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However, Moore argues, because of the economic implications of enclosures and apparently self-serving practices of the Crown, commercial interests developed in opposition to the Crown. Moore further argues that “the wealthier townsmen turned against royal monopolies…as barriers to their own interests”(Moore, 13). As such, Moore asserts that the unilateral and regulatory nature of the Crown came to represent the final frontier before free market capitalism to an increasingly cohesive commercial class. This opposition came to the forefront of politics as Parliament came to represent the interests of the commercial class. In sum, Moore argues that economic motives drove Parliament to go against the Crown and was able to see its interests come to fruition due to the gradual disappearance of the peasantry and a lack of effective military, bureaucratic, and administrative bodies. Moreover, as Parliament began passing its reforms measures to ensure a free market, the Crown was now subject to a primitive form of impeachment, namely, beheading. On this point the two arguments agree completely. Moore argues that “the Star Chamber…[was] the general symbol of arbitrary royal power”(Moore, 17). Moreover, Moore argues that beside the Star Chamber, there was no major institutional reform because “a flexible institution which constituted both an arena into which new social elements could be drawn as their demands arose and an institutional mechanism for settling peacefully conflicts of interest among these groups”(Moore, 21) already existed. North and Weingast, however, assert that the evolution of English Parliament, monarchy, and court system comprised a near revolution.

The same changes in political institutions are described in both arguments, but North and Weingast treat these changes as much more significant to the development of free market democracy. Identifying that the “execution of public laws and expenditures was not subject to a public budgetary process,” (North and Weingast, 809) North and Weingast why they believe institutional change was sought after. Moreover, the fiscal irresponsibility of the Crown led to a coalition of the commercial class “seeking to preserve personal liberties, rights, and wealth”(North and Weingast). Thus the major impetus to reform was a budgetary one, but the nature of the reforms led to a system of government based upon checks and balances. North and Weingast identify several parliamentary measures taken to reform the budgetary process but in turn created a stable balance between Parliament and the Crown: the passage of the Statute of Monopolies and Triennial Acts, the abolishment of the Star Chamber, the reduction of legal legitimacy of royal prerogatives, and the modifications to land tenure laws. As a result of these changes in infrastructure, North and Weingast argue, the Crown’s ability to practice arbitrary was stripped. An important form of royal arbitrary power, they argue, was the disenfranchisement of political opposition in the form of gerrymandering, calling for detainment of political opponents and excessive bail thereof, and suspension of the writ of habeas corpus. Without such practices, one would face little to no threat of disenfranchisement and thus would be able to exercise political freedom. Thus North and Weingast argue that economically driven reforms to the budgetary process allowed for a balance of government and legitimacy of exercising political freedom. The two arguments overlap in explaining how parliament came to represent commercial interests. Moore, however, explains how the dissolution of the peasant class and rise of the commercial class established a strong, cohesive coalition that politically opposed the monarchy without going into detail as to how the commercial class went about accomplishing its goals. North and Weingast, on the other hand, focus on how the commercial class reformed English political institutions to establish separation of powers, a system of checks and balances, and a relatively laissez-faire government. In sum, Moore explains how socioeconomic trends translated into political trends as North and Weingast explain how political trends translated into legal and institutional trends.

Both arguments attempt to explain how capitalism and democracy emerged in England, and why they arose simultaneously. They both explain why the commercial class succeeded in bringing about a burgeoning capitalist economy, though they do so using distinct variables: Moore looks at socioeconomic trends, specifically the fall of the peasantry and the profitability of agriculture in England to explain the economic victory of capitalist forces, while only briefly examining institutional variables, the changing composition of Parliament, and the abolition of the Star Chamber to supplement his argument.

North and Weingast almost strictly use institutional variables in their assertion, namely the reform of the budgetary process to ensure the regularization of public finance which eventually trickled down into the public economy. Further, both arguments set out to explain how the commercial class arrived at the door of government and allowed for a democracy. Both make points backing up the assertion that commercial interests came to oppose the monarchy, though for different reasons. Moore depicts the opposition to an antidemocratic more as an apolitical opposition that gradually percolated Parliament and thus became political. North and Weingast lack any significant social commentary on this matter, instead relying on how Parliament’s desire to reform the budgetary process developed a balanced and democratic government to prove their point. In explaining both the rise of capitalism and that of democracy, Moore focuses on the cause and the phenomenon using socioeconomic variables whereas North and Weingast focus on the phenomenon and its effects by examining the evolution of English political institutions.

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A Comparison of Socioeconomic and Institutional Methods of Explaining the Rise of Capitalist Democracy in England (Moore vs. North & Weingast)

July 18th, 2010 Comments off

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The arguments of Barrington Moore’s Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy and of North and Weingast’s Constitutions and Commitment: The Evolution of Institutions Governing Public Choice in Seventeenth-Century England on the genesis of capitalist democracy in England mostly supplement each other by examining different variables and processes that relate to England’s evolution. Both works stipulate that England’s capitalist democracy entailed social elements that sought a free economy and did so by political means. Calling said elements the “commercial class,” Moore explains how this class emerged, came to power, and saw its policies implemented. North and Weingast, however, explain how political institutions evolved to allow a free market economy and how the commercial class’ interests translated into a fair, balanced, and checked English government. In a sense, Moore explains how initial conditions established the commercial impulse that would eventually drive free market democracy and how the impulse came to manifest itself politically and legally. North and Weingast, arguing on the precondition of the existence of the commercial class, explain how the evolution of political institutions, driven by economic motives, created a balanced, accountable government that led to a politically and economically free society. Thus the two arguments overlap in how the commercial impulse arrived at the doors of government, but supplement each other as one explains the cause chiefly using socioeconomic variables as the other explains the effects chiefly using institutional variables.

In attempts to explain the rise of capitalism in England, Moore uses socioeconomic conditions, the rise of the commercial impulse and availability of resources, whereas North and Weingast use institutional changes in government, the regularization of public finance. Thus the two arguments don’t necessarily contradict each other; rather, they examine different possible causes of the same phenomenon. Moore argues that market influences, the possibility of enclosing land, difficulty in finding cheap commodities, and the devolution of the connection between landownership and legal power all led to the emergence of the commercial impulse. The booming land, wool, and grain markets along with high food prices and a labor shortage, Moore argues, developed a need to make profit in English agrarian society. Moreover, the high price of resources and widespread availability markets inspired a once agrarian class of people to produce for economic gains rather than for sustenance. In addition, because “the land and tenurial relations based on it had largely ceased to be the cement binding together lord and man,” (Moore, 5) land thereafter came to be viewed as a source of revenue rather than one of political or legal power. Moore points to the burgeoning land market and rise of enclosures as evidence reaffirming his claim that public perception concerning land ownership shifted to one of capitalism. Furthermore, he asserts that the commercial impulse along with the aforementioned variables of resources were the chief causes behind the growth of a capitalist economy. Thus, Moore examines resource endowments and evolution of agricultural profitability to explain the growth and success of capitalist commercialism. On this point he and North and Weingast disagree.

To North and Weingast, the success of commercial capitalism was a result of government’s establishment of a “relevant set of rights…[and] a credible commitment to them,”(North and Weingast, 803) derived from their assertion that “the development of free markets must be accompanied by some credible restrictions on the state’s ability to manipulate economic rules to the advantage of itself and its constituents”(North and Weingast, 808). They argue that with restrictions on the Crown’s ability to practice arbitrary power in the pursuit of public finance and renege on loans, English government earned financial credibility and was therefore able to finance expenditures. This shift to free flowing credit to government trickled down to the public economy beginning when “the Bank of England began private operations…[along with] numerous other banks”(North and Weingast, 825). Thus North and Weingast argue that government credibility led to free flowing credit in the public economy. As a result of this influx of available credit, they argue, private enterprises were able to create new and grow existing businesses. Although the two arguments diverge when explaining the general reasons for capitalism’s success, Moore’s argument is mainly aimed at explaining why capitalism emerged in the first place whereas that of North and Weingast explains why capitalism boomed once it became embedded in the water supply. The two arguments have a more supplementary and overlapping relation when explaining why capitalist interests percolated government and succeeding in translating their philosophy into law.

While explaining how capitalist democracy came about in England, Moore examines how social changes affected policy and the composition of Parliament while North and Weingast examine how changes in financial policy and the new composition of Parliament affected English government. Thus, North and Weingast begin where Moore ends: at changes in financial and monetary policy and a new composition of Parliament. In Moore and North and Weingast’s arguments, these changes in government are viewed as an effect and cause, respectively. Moore argues that the disenfranchisement and resulting dissolution of the peasantry, royal infringement upon free market, and the transformation of Parliament from an exclusive body of hereditary nobles to a “committee of landlords” (Moore, 21) led to a Parliamentary opposition to the Crown that resulted in a government that promoted capitalist democracy. As land became increasingly necessary for successful agrarian capitalism, the practice of enclosing peasant-owned or common land became regular. This practice not only allowed resourceful peasants, or yeomen, to participate in commercial capitalism, but also led to rapidly decreasing peasant population that would have opposed modernization. Moore argues that the Crown strove to protect the peasantry from enclosures to ameliorate public discord by using prerogative mandates to reallocate the jurisdiction of property rights disputes from common law courts to the Star Chamber.

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The Sexual Motives of Duke Vincentio in William Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure (Part 2)

July 11th, 2010 Comments off

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The Duke departs, and Angelo is left with absolute rule. It is not clear whether he realizes that the Duke’s advances are sexual in nature, but perhaps he does understand the situation. Escalus says to him, “A power I have, but of what strength and nature/ I am not yet instructed. ” Angelo replies: “’Tis so with me” (1. 1, 79-81). Angelo may be referring to his political power, but it can also be interpreted as uncertainty about his sexual nature and his desirable affect on the Duke. Finally, the Duke forces Angelo to marry a woman who does not appeal to him while the Duke himself proposes to a woman that he had not shown any romantic or sexual interest in. Brown believes this to be “a front of a socially sanctioned union” to provide the two men opportunity to engage in a relationship without immediately causing a controversy.

Carolyn Brown suggests that the Duke has homosexual tendencies and that his relationships with specific characters reveal his discreet desires. The author points to his relationship with Lucio for evidence to support her argument. During conversations with the disguised Duke, Lucio insists that he has a close, personal relationship with the ruler: “Friar, thou knowest not the Duke so well as I do” (4. 4, 151). The false friar demands that Lucio identify himself, and he is met with a confident response: “Sir, my name is Lucio, well known to the Duke” (3. 1, 396). He also expresses his loyalty to the Duke, telling the friar that he “know[s] him and [he] love[s] him” (3. 1, 387). The use of the word “know” here could be used to imply a sexual knowledge, as it is often used in that sense in other Shakespearean plays. While Lucio seems to believe that he speaks the truth, he has a tendency to lie throughout the play. Brown acknowledges this; “undoubtedly Lucio shows signs of being a braggart and taking creative license with the truth. But…Lucio’s numerous references to the Duke’s sexual proclivities and the confident manner in which he asserts them suggests that he has intimate knowledge of the Duke himself. ” The existence of a sexual relationship between the two would also explain Lucio’s continuous cries for attention at the end of the play, which seem to be without fear of punishment. Perhaps he does not expect to be held accountable because of this special relationship. Another possible interpretation that Brown’s argument presents is one that portrays Lucio as a disgruntled, jealous former lover of the Duke. This interpretation explains Lucio’s constant verbal attack on both the Duke himself and the Duke’s new love interest, Angelo. All of these attacks seem to focus on one thing specifically: Angelo’s sexuality. He calls him a “sexless thing” (3. 2, 108), “one who never feels/ the wanton stings and motions of the sense” (1. 4, 57-58), and says that “he is a motion ungenerative” (3. 1, 356), a phrase meaning sexually impotent. Finally, the Duke’s response also supports this interpretation. He expresses his anger at Lucio’s “back-wounding calumny” (3. 1, 417). Naturally, the Duke is rightfully angry at this slander, but perhaps he is also referring to this verbal harassment as a betrayal between two (once) intimate men.

The Duke’s sexual motivations influence his actions, his speech and his relationships with other characters in the play. Through close examination, Carolyn Brown highlights an interpretation of the Duke, Angelo, and Lucio that could otherwise easily be overlooked. The achieved level of success that the Duke’s attempt to place Angelo in a “compromising position and rescue him to gain his gratitude and affections” by showing favoritism towards him is unclear. Perhaps Angelo’s response to the Duke’s return answers the question: “You make my bonds still greater” (5. 1, 9).

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The Sexual Motives of Duke Vincentio in William Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure

July 11th, 2010 Comments off

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Concrete characters, like people, have many different aspects of their personality and are complex creations. These characters leave room for analysis and provoke the reader into asking questions about the character’s personality. Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure presents such characters that can be read and interpreted in numerous different ways. One particular character, Duke Vincentio, seemingly manipulates the events of the play to result in a happy ending. Carolyn Brown’s article, “The Homoeroticism of Duke Vincentio”, suggests that the Duke has hidden, sexual motives that are discreetly expressed in his speech, his actions, and through his relationships with other characters.

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Carolyn Brown first turns to historical facts to support her argument. She compares the play’s plot and the character of the Duke to the real life events surrounding the reign of England’s James I. According to Brown, James I abused his power by using it to “fulfill his sexual desires and to reward and protect his favorites. ” These partial actions on behalf of the king included “giving these young men power and positions as a way to show affection for them and to win their attentions” and “protecting his favorites for crimes they had committed” (Brown). In Measure For Measure, the Duke clearly does both of these things by undeservingly giving Angelo the temporary absolute power that should have gone to the older, wiser Escalus and later absolving him from all moral or lawful crimes at the end of the play. James I was also notorious for having relationships with young, handsome men and his frequent and public displays of affection for them caused great controversy amongst his subjects. The Duke, if interpreted in the manner that Brown suggests, reflects this behavior in the play and shares the same sexual motivations as King James I. Furthermore, the author insists that the Duke’s role as a reflection of James I is hidden through general praise because Shakespeare wanted to avoid any repercussions for any negative portrayal of the king. Shakespeare’s audience related to the fictionalized situation of an unfair and morally unsound ruler because they themselves were upset with similar problems in their court. The questionable legitimacy of a ruler with a blatantly compromised moral character was, according to Brown, “hotly debated during James’s reign. ”

The relationship between the Duke and Angelo can seem to be unimportant or casual because they do not share much time together in the play. Closer examination, however, exposes a possible intimate relationship between the two.

From the beginning of the play, the Duke treats Angelo with great fondness. He addresses the young deputy with affection and uses “language that seems unusually intimate” and contains “subtext that strikes us as markedly familiar” (Brown). These phrases are scattered throughout the play and include referring to Angelo as being “so near us” (5. 1, 123), and that he has “drest [Angelo] with our love” (1. 1, 19). He chooses Angelo over Escalus to execute his leadership in his absence, despite Escalus’ more appropriate age and experience. The Duke states that he made the decision to give Angelo the power with “special soul” (1. 1, 18). Carolyn Brown attributes this gift to Angelo as an expression of love and an attempt on the Duke’s part to win the affection of his depute through gratitude. Furthermore, upon transferring power to the inexperienced depute, the departing Duke asks for Angelo’s hand (another possible indicator – he asks for Angelo’s hand in both of the scenes that they appear in together) and pauses to give advice. His advice, however, does not relate to his obligations as ruler, but is on a personal level. Instead of offering political advice, the Duke launches into a carpe diem speech about Angelo’s desires, urging him to use his “torch” (1. 1, 32). He also repeats several times that Angelo can do whatever he pleases with no limitations. Brown suggests that the Duke repeats the terms of his gift in order to make Angelo more appreciative.

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