surname recorded from 1248; it means "a spearman." This was a common type of English surname, . Shakelance (1275), Shakeshaft (1332). Shake (v.) in the sense of "to brandish or flourish (a weapon)" is attested from late Old English Heo scæken on heore honden speren swiðe stronge. [Laymon, "Brut," c. 1205] Cf. also shake-buckler "a swaggerer, a bully;" shake-rag "ragged fellow, tatterdemalion." "Never a name in English nomenclature so simple or so certain in origin. It is exactly what it looks -- Shakespear" [Bardsley, "Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames," 1901]. Nevertheless, speculation flourishes. The name was variously written in contemporary records, also Shakespear , Shakespere , the last form being the one adopted by the New Shakespere Society of London and the first edition of the OED. Related: Shakespearian (1753); Shakesperean (1796); Shakesperian (1755).
While Ferdinand’s formality is in some ways endearing, it is also in some ways disturbingly reminiscent of Prospero. Some of Ferdinand’s long speeches, especially the speech about Miranda’s virginity in Act IV, scene i, sound quite similar to the way Prospero speaks. Ferdinand is a sympathetic character, and his love for Miranda seems most genuine when he suddenly is able to break out of his verbose formality and show a strikingly simple interest in Miranda. The reader can see this when he asks Miranda, “What is your name?” (. 36 ). The reader notices it again in Act V, scene i when he jests with her over a game of chess, and when he tells his father, who asks whether Miranda is “the goddess that hath severed us, / And brought us together,” that “she is mortal” (. 190–191 ). Ferdinand agrees to marry Miranda in a scene in which he has been, like Caliban, hauling logs for Prospero. Unlike Caliban, however, Ferdinand has been carrying wood gladly, believing that he serves Miranda. The sweet humbleness implicit in this belief seems to shine through best at the times when Ferdinand lets go of his romantic language.
“Ah,” said the old man. “Tell us.” I protested that I was not a storyteller. Storytelling is a skilled art among them; their standards are high, and the audiences critical—and vocal in their criticism. I protested in vain. This morning they wanted to hear a story while they drank. They threatened to tell me no more stories until I told them one of mine. Finally, the old man promised that no one would criticize my style, “for we know you are struggling with our language.” “But,” put in one of the elders, “you must explain what we do not understand, as we do when we tell you our stories.” Realizing that here was my chance to prove Hamlet universally intelligible, I agreed.