Short notes on Christopher Marlowe

Christopher Marlowe is one of the great among the predecessors of Shakespeare. His contributions to Elizabethan drama are spectacular; some of his plays Dr. Faustus, Tamburlaine and “The Jews of Malta” are his great plays. He made a mark as a great dramatist. Marlowe was born in 1564 in Canterbury only a few months before Shakespeare. He was the son of a poor shoemaker. Right from his boyhood he had immeasurable passion for the ideals of Renaissance. Consequently, he became an actor and lived in the atmosphere of taverns. Marlowe wrote his famous plays Tamburlaine, when he was hardly 23 years old. Marlowe’s genius was spectacular. He followed his genius and he wrote some of the great plays which reputed him into great prominence.

Tamburlaine was succeeded by the tragical history of Dr. Faustus. Marlowe wrote this play between 1588-89. Unfortunately this play is a great tragedy. Dr. Faustus in order to learn magic sells his soul to the devil. The theme of this play is based on the well known medieval legend of the magician. Faustus who sold his soul to obtain his heart’s desire. Really Faustus is the genuine incarnation of the renaissance spirit. The noble blank verse, full of poetry and passions bear the stamp of the author’s incomparable genius. Another great play of Marlowe ”The Jews of Malta” published in 1592. It is an anti-Jewish play with plenty of melodrama and occasional burst of tragic passion. The opening scene of this play is thought to be at par with Shakespeare’s perfection but the later acts are weak and farcical.

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Marlowe’s last play is Edward II written in 1593. It is a play based on historical events and this play is considered to be his best from the technical and artistic point of view. It shows a distinct advance in dramatic technique. Though it is inferior in poetic and imaginative qualities. What is more, it is also remarkable for its rare skill of construction and admirable characterization. Edward II is the first historical play that rises to tragic greatness. Marlowe’s contributions to the English drama are eminent. Marlowe introduced heros who were men of great strength and reality to the characters and introduced passion. On the further he made the blank verse supple and flexible to suit the drama. And thus he made the works of Shakespeare easy. Marlowe gave beauty, dignity and poetic glow to the drama. Marlowe is rightly called the father of English dramatic poetry.

Marlowe took the blank verse of the classical school hard as a rock and stuck it with his rod till the waters of human emotions gushed forth. He put aside the old rhyming of romantic drama and made blank verse his expression of the finest wit. He uses soliloquies like Shakespeare. What is most remarkable about Marlowe’s work is that the theme he borrowed the heroes he molded were no more than his mouth pieces. Marlowe’s contributions to English drama are hitherto remembered.



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