Marlowe as a Renaissance dramatist

Marlowe as a Renaissance dramatist

Marlowe as a Renaissance dramatist : Write a note on Marlowe as a dramatist. Or Account for Marlowe’s contribution to the development of English tragedy. Or Account for Marlowe as a Renaissance dramatist.

Marlowe as a Renaissance dramatist

Christopher Marlowe was a popular English dramatist and poet of the Elizabethan Age. He is regarded as the greatest dramatist of the University Wits. Scholars have traced his great influence on William Shakespeare. There is a belief : no Marlow, no Shakespeare. Marlowe infused mental and psychological element in his plays. Later  on, Shakespeare develcped it. Unfortunately, his creative period is limited to only six years. Before Marlow, dramatists gave importance to comedy, Marlowe popularized tragedy. The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus’ is a world classic. It is honoured as the first play to employ human psychology in the development of a character.

As a dramatist-

It is impossible to prove that Marlowe wrote in the name of Shakespeare. But what we have in the name of Marlowe impresses us with strength and variety of expression. His use of blank verse is remarkable. He wrote four great plays.  Unfortunately only ‘Dr. Faustus’ (1588) was published in his life time. Doctor Faustus’ is based on the Faust legend. Real Faustus was born in Wertenberg in 1480. ‘Tamburlaine the Great’ (1590) is based on the 14th century Mongol conqueror who is ambitious and cruel. ‘Edward II’ (1594) is one of the earliest English historical plays. In ‘The Jew of Malta’ (1633), a Christian-hating Jew Barabas is presented. Marlowe wrote two lesser plays : ‘Tragedy of Dido’, ‘Queen of Carthage’. It was completed later on by Thomas Nashe (1594). The other play is ‘Massacre at Paris’ (1600). Marlowe’s heroes are passionate men. They are destroyed by desire for limitless power. The plays have sweet language and emotional speeches.

As a poet –

Marlowe wrote poetic plays. Marlowe shows his poetic skill in his plays. He poetic works  like ‘The Passionate Shepherd’ (1599) and incomplete ‘Hero and Leander’. His plays have poetic qualities of high standard.

High moral value-

His plays are rich in high moral value. In ‘Dr. Faustus’, the great moral is expressed in the epilogue. Faustus’ untimely tragic death should be taken as a lesson. It warns all the scholars to be far from unlawful things. There is no need to take interest in them. Their deep knowledge may attract them to do those sinful activities that are forbidden. No man is more cunning than Lucifer. If once Lucifer feels that he may win the soul of anybody, he spreads his net so nicely that a scholar like Faustus, who was expert in religious studies, gave up God for Lucifer.

High imagination-

Marlowe‘s high imagination is expressed in Faustus’ strange aspirations. It thrills Faustus that Mephistophilis would make him the supreme power. Faustus thinks after getting services of Mephistophilis, he will be great emperor of the world. He plans to make a bridge thorough the moving air and that too strong enough to be used by a numberless people to pass the ocean. He plans to join African hills and make that country a continent to Spain.

Strong emotions-

Marlowe succeeds in displaying strong emotions. Faustus‘ agony, in the last scene of the play, is expressed so pathetically that nobody may question Marlowe‘s poetic excellence. It is blending of strong emotion with sublime thought The clock strikes eleven. Only one hour is left in Faustus’ life. He requests the sun to rise and rise again to make a morning and that morning should be everlasting. In this way, the midnight will never come. He prays God to make this hour as long as a year, a month, a week, or a natural day. Faustus is willing to have sufficient time to repent for his past sins. He hopes to save his soul from going to hell in this way.

Sensuous word-pictures-

Marlowe‘s word pictures are lively. The lines in which Dr. Faustus welcomes Flelen are remarkable. Faustus wonders looking at Helen’s attractive face and understands why a thousand ships took part in the horrible battle of Troy and the high towers of Troy were destroyed for this lady. Helen is immortal for her beauty is immortal. Faustus asks Helen to make him immortal with a kiss. Her kiss is so deep that Faustus

fears her lips suck forth his soul. He asks her not to fly with his • soul and requests her to give him back his soul again. Her way of loving is so charming that Faustus decides to live with her. According to him, heavenly joys are provided by her lips. He declares only Helena is worthy and all other things are worthless.

Was this the face that launch’d a thousand ships?

And burnt the topless towers of llium ?

His greatness-

Marlowe‘s greatness is exposed in this fact that Shakespeare’s plays have their origin in Marlowe‘s plays. Marlowe introduced element of psychology and supernatural activities in his plays. Shakespeare’s historical plays owe to Marlowe‘s ‘Edward II’. Faustus dared to introduce a great tragic hero from the weakest section of society. In ‘Dr. Faustus’, Chorus points out

Only this, gentles,–we must now perform

The form of Faustus’ fortunes, good or bad.

His weaknesses-

Marlowe fails in developing other character and only the hero shines bright. His comic scenes and plotconstructions are weak. There is want of female characters. In ‘Dr. Faustus’, there is no female character.

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