Christopher Marlowe


Rupert Everett as Marlowe in Shakespeare in Love

On this date Christopher Marlowe was murdered (1564 – 1593).

Frye on the relation of Marlowe, Shakespeare and Webster in Notebook 9:

In my young days I said that Marlowe’s characters were demigods moving in a social ether, that Webster’s were “cases” of a sick society, & that Shakespeare was the transition from one to the other.  Well, it’s true that in DM [The Duchess of Malfi], for example, there is no order-figure because there is no genuine society: there is a Dionysiac health-figure instead, the Duchess herself, & society itself, personated by Ferdinand & the Cardinal, is the action-figure.  I think that this is the kind of tragedy adumbrated by Chapman in B d’A [Bussy D’Ambois].  Yet even Tamburlaine is a scourge of God, the destructive nature let loose in a society that has no God.  I suppose Shakespeare’s nearest approach to a social tragedy of the Webster kind is really Coriolanus rather than TC [Troilus and Cressida]: Co has no de jure magic because he can’t crystallize any kind of society, as Antony can. (CW 20, 254-5)

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