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Choose one of the three recurring characters in the sonnets – the fair lord, the rival poet, or the dark lady – and argue the case for his or her real-world identity. Adopt a candidate who has already been proposed, assessing the evidence for yourself – or posit a new possibility.

A: This question demands careful historical research, coupled with close literary analysis. Techniques of comparative literature will come in handy; for example, when weighing the validity of the Christopher Marlowe claim, it behooves the student to not only study Marlowe’s life and place in history, but his work as well – and the ways in which Shakespeare’s writing might draw from, comment on, or question his.


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