Man Who Was Not Shakespeare Term Paper

Pages: 4 (1480 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 4  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion

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[. . .] Again, these things Marlowe learned as a scholar in Cambridge.

Like most of Marlowe's plays, even "Dr. Faustus," considered to be his masterpiece, deals with a powerful individual surrounded by weaker, less powerful individuals who bend to his will. The play's only real character as such is the central figure, and the drama of the piece centers around the question if he will or will not 'get away' with the pranks and mischief he enacts after selling his soul. These pranks include becoming invisible at a dinner of the Pope's and causing the monks in attendance to bash one another in accidental comic succession, while Faustus joyfully feasts on the Pope's wine and meat. In other words, rather than creating a world inhabited by characters with different kinds of interior drama and interior life, Marlowe create a world of stock characters with one central, often evil, figure of compelling interest whose struggle is the only complex one of the entire evening.Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Term Paper on Man Who Was Not Shakespeare: Assignment

The fascination with Catholicism evident in "Dr. Faustus" should not come as much of a surprise, even despite Marlowe's avowed atheism. Catholicism was a despised and outlawed religion in the England of his time. But Marlowe did not contemplate converting to the faith. Rather, in one parodic document he wrote, he stated that Catholicism was a good religion, "merely because it embraces the fictions of ceremony rather than indulging in the Protestant hypocrisy which pretends to a literalism it will not see through." In other words, Catholicism is a better religion because it pretends the "bell, book, and candle" of exorcism and the physical rites of the mass do have supernatural powers. This is unlike Protestantism which avows itself as a more spiritual, ascetic faith, stating that humanity will not be saved by physical acts, but by a system of theology and belief alone. Marlowe thus embraced the theatrical nature of religion, while defying the central tenants of religion itself, much like his great hero. Although Shakespeare's theology is difficult to discern, clearly his works are more ambiguous in nature than Marlowe's in their understanding of the deity, while Marlowe's are often openly parodic, irreligious, or in the form of Faustus and "The Jew of Malta," use heretics as heroes. (Gold berg 78) Marlowe is a more dogmatic playwright than Shakespeare -- again, the playwright Marlowe drives his plays with an overall and singular artistic intelligence, rather than Shakespeare who is more concerned with the creation of different individuals with corresponding different characters and points-of-view in conflict.

The reason for Marlowe's murder remains unclear. On May 18, 1593, the Privy Council issued a warrant for the playwright's arrest. He presented himself and agreed to remain in the city until he was called again. Two weeks later, while Marlowe was drinking with three other men, he received a wound in the eye, from which he died. It is uncertain if the brawl was accidental, if it was related to Marlowe's espionage work, or even, as some have suggested, to his avowed atheism and pursuit of a flamboyantly and exclusively homosexual lifestyle. (To make one last contrast with Shakespeare, whose sexuality in the sonnets is less certain.) Marlowe's artistic lifestyle in combination with his actions as an agent for the government may have made him a security risk, to use a modern term. Or there is speculation he may have become a double agent. (Goldberg 76)

All that is certain is the strident beauty and power of Marlowe's unambiguous poetry. Marlowe remains famous to this day. This is not so much for the life in the characters he created but for his own life, as encapsulated in such outlaw figures as "The Jew of Malta" and "Faustus." Critics remain fascinated by these plays not for what they say about human nature, but what they say about Marlowe's nature and power with words. "Was this the face that launched a thousand ships?" As Dr. Faustus of Helen. The reader or viewer does not care about the character of Helen, only the beauty of the language used to describe her.

Works Cited

Goldberg, Jonathan. "The Case of Christopher Marlowe." From Staging the Renaissance. Edited by David Kastan and Peter Stallybrass. Routledge, 1991, pp.75-82.

Gurr, Andrew. The Shakespearean Stage 1574-1642. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

Marlowe, Christopher. "Dr. Faustus." From The Complete Plays. Penguin, 1969.… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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