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Christopher Marlowe. AP English Shauna Rynn Waters. 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.

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christopher marlowe

Christopher Marlowe

AP English

Shauna Rynn Waters

bio basics
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
the secret agent
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
his death at deptford
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
death at deptford cont
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
marlowe s works
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
works cont
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
doctor faustus
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
more about doctor faustus
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
elements of the play
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.