Thursday, March 26, 2009


An English dramatist, Christopher Marlowe was born in Canterbury, the son of a shoemaker. He graduated from 1583, earning his master's degree in 1587. He went directly from the university to London to make his may in the theater. In any event, during the late 1580s and early 1590s, he was perhaps the most talented of the group of writers known as "The University Wits." their work revolutionized Elizabethan drama during these years and paved the way for the great dramatists of the next two decades.

His work was the single greatest influence on William Shakespeare (see No.11), who made one of his rare overt person al reference to Marlowe.

The chronology of Marlowe's work has not been definitely established, but Tamberlaine (1587), probably comes first, Like all Marlowe’s work. This play is concerned with what is perhaps the major conflict of the Renaissance mind: the clash between reason and faith.

Tamberlaine takes the side of reason, presenting with epic enthusiasm the rise from Scythian shepherd to "the sweet fruition of an earthly crown" of Tamberlaine. He achieved this distinction, not because he was born to it, nor because he was God's anointed, but because he used his great personal talents, with ruthless disregard for others.

Marlowe's second play, The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus (1588), was certainly the greatest tragedy before Shakespeare. It achieved this stature by balancing Marlowe's admiration for the man ambitious of power, Knowledge, and beauty with the powerful conviction that a man who achieved these ends, not by God's gift, but by the unaided efforts, not by the unaided efforts of his intelligence and will, used damnable means, Doctor Faustus is an example of the Renaissance humanist. At the end of Marlowe’s play he was damned.

Doctor Faustus was probably followed by the Jew of Malta (1589-90) and Edward II (1591), from which Shakespeare borrowed extensively had some part in several other plays, and in addition, was a considerable lyric poet.

His most famous non-dramatic poem is the unfinished Hero and Leander. He died in a tavern braw, perhaps deliberately murdered, at the age of 29

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