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Christopher Marlowe

Christopher Marlowe

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Christopher Marlowe

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  1. Christopher Marlowe AP English Shauna Rynn Waters

  2. Bio Basics • Born in Canterbury on February 26, 1564 • Father, John, was a cobbler • Same artisan class as Shakespeare • Went to King’s School • Earned a Matthew Parker scholarship • Studied at Cambridge from 1580 – 1587 • Earned his MA

  3. The Secret Agent • Was recruited by Sir Francis Walsingham as a part-time secret service agent for Elizabeth I • Many bright, patriotic young men were recruited to serve • This was an age of Catholic versus Protestant political intrigue • Assassinations and espionage • Documents show he was a very important agent

  4. His Death at Deptford • May 30, 1593 • Murder said to have been committed in the private room of house in Deptford • Common legend calls it a tavern • Puritans gloated that it was a judgment from God • Marlowe had been arrested on May 20th. • Charged with Atheism • Heresy • Burning at the stake • Was released with a lesser sentence

  5. Death at Deptford (cont.) • Marlowe was with friends and acquaintances of Walsingham • An argument erupted • Marlowe drew the dagger of Ingram Frizer • tried to stab Frizer • Instead, received fatal stab wound over his right eye • Some speculate his death to be a government plot • Frizer was released without trial within 28 days of the brawl

  6. Marlowe’s Works • Heroic themes • A great personality who is destroyed by his own passion and ambition • Never merely sensational • Strongly influenced Shakespeare • Greatest English dramatist before Shakespeare • 1587 – Tamburlaine the Great • 1588 – Doctor Faustus • 1589 – The Jew of Malta

  7. Works, cont. • Marlowe was a true original • Created and mastered the “theatrical language” of blank verse • Unrhymed iambic pentameter • Capable of portraying emotion without the restrictions of earlier more rigid forms

  8. Probably written in 1592 Reinvention of an old motif Individual who sells his or her soul to the devil for knowledge Based on a real person Johannes Faustus Disreputable German astrologer (early 1500’s) Doctor Faustus

  9. Immediate source is a German work from 1587 Marlowe’s Faustus is the first famous version of the story Later, Romantic writers would revisit it Goethe “Faustian bargain” – any deal made for short-term gain with great costs in the long run More about Doctor Faustus

  10. Elements of the Play • The play and the story itself contain elements which are holdovers from a medieval tradition, the morality play: • psychomachia, the battle over the spirit, here waged by a Good Angel and a Bad Angel; • the parade of the Seven Deadly Sins; • the potential for salvation, which exists until he finally succumbs to despair and gives up all hope of being able to repent.