This weekend, The Independent reported that thanks to some ultra fancy new South African science stuff I definitely don’t understand, there’s now evidence that suggests William Shakespeare might have been a big ol’ pothead. Through a process called gas chromatography mass spectrometry, clay pipes found in Shakespeare’s garden in Stratford-Upon-Avon have been found to have contained not tobacco (or at least not just tobacco), but also residue of marijuana. Other pipes from Shakes’ neighbors’ yards also came back with traces of coca leaves (cocaine), but Will’s only contained the mellow stuff.
When you think about it, suddenly a lot of Shakespeare’s work makes a whole lot more sense. The clues to Willy’s stonerdom were there all along— we just weren’t looking.
He basically said it.
As The Independent notes, Shakespeare’s Sonnet 76 makes note of his inclination to “keep invention [i.e. creativity] in a noted weed.” And while weed could mean clothing, it could also very well mean a plant. A noted plant. You know… like weed. In the same sonnet he also referes to his refusal to find creativity in “compounds strange,” (possibly) as in ‘that strange other thing those other dudes are smoking, but not me, I’ll stick my my weed, thank you.’
Those repeated plot lines
Have you ever been hanging out with someone who’s smoked enough pot to just repeat the same stories and jokes over and over again and never notice or think they’re any less interesting or funny? I’m just saying, Shakespeare was an amazing writer but… women dressed as men, father-daughter issues, star-crossed lovers… The man was not afraid of reusing a plot device. He was basically the Aaron Sorkin of the 16th Century.
Let’s take Winter’s Tale as an example here. A great, weird play with strong characters, spanning decades, and how does it end? Hell if anyone actually knows. The king’s wife who early on died of grief maybe comes back to life? Through magic? Or maybe she was never dead? Tell me that ending wasn’t fueled by marijuana.
The least sensical thing Shakespeare ever wrote, it’s basically one long rambly narrated hallucination.
More Romeo & Juliet stuff
In a speech that’s often cut from versions of the play, Friar Laurence proves he knows a LOT about a lot of different drugs. Maybe too much to believe Shakespeare didn’t do his own… um… research.
His lost years
One of the biggest mysteries surrounding Shakespeare is his lost years. We have record of him getting married at age 21, and then popping up in London at 28, but what did he do for those seven years. There are countless theories, but I think it’s pretty clear now. What’s the 1500s equivalent of getting high and losing a chunk of your life to World of Warcraft?
A play about a guy who just can’t make up his mind or do anything. Yup, sounds about right.
A monster man whose mother was a witch who got imprisoned inside a tree? Yeah, Shakespeare was probably on drugs.