Christopher Marlowe

English Playwright and Poet

Biography

Christopher Marlowe was born in Canterbury, England on February 6th, 1564, into the family of a fortunate merchant. As a child, he attended King's School in the same town he was born and, once seventeen, pursued a further education in Cambridge. While in Cambridge, he received a bachelor of arts degree in 1584 and went on to acquire his master of arts degree in 1587. However, Marlowe nearly lost his credentials even before obtain them when the university law enforcement became wary of his actions. But, The Queen's Privy Council assured the university that he had carried out a favor for Her Majesty and their suspicions were dismissed. After graduating, Christopher Marlowe moved to London, where he soon made a name for himself through his unorthodox thinking and radical ideas as well as his supposed association with the murder of William Bradley. He was also often accused of being an atheist. Through all of this, Marlowe was still able to write one widely known poem, Hero and Leander, and seven, if not more, plays, one of which, Tamburlaine the Great, revolutionized the tragic play. Unfortunately, the playwright's career came to an abrupt stop due to his death on May 30th, 1593 in Deptford, England after being stabbed over the right eye by Ingram Frizer. Although he lived a short life, Christopher Marlowe was able to represent skepticism and secularism through his nonreligious plays and alleged atheistic beliefs, both important principles to the Renaissance.




"I must be the murderer of myself...to rid me from these thoughts of lunacy" (V.1.210-273).


-Dido, after her true love leaves her



Dido, Queen of Carthage

Dido, Queen of Carthage is an example of Marlowe's signature tragedies and is also thought to have been written by him while he was still in college, sometime between 1586 and 1588. Today, one may be able to see performance of this play in a large and well known theatre, but it is not a common production in small theaters. However, the play has grown in popularity over the past few years. The idea that a college student could write a play they would become well enough known that it is recognizable 500 years later is what stands out to many. Marlowe also uses a bold and straight forward style of writing that suits tragedies perfectly. For example, he builds his plot around a particular main character and a select few that help to tell the story. The main characters in this play include Dido,the Queen of Carthage, Aeneas ,the Queen's love interest, Anna, the Queen's sister, and Iarbus, Anna's love interest who also loves the queen. The play ends, like many tragedies do, with the majority of the characters committing suicide out of grief for their lost loved ones. The Renaissance principle that this play relates to the most is secularism. Albeit the play includes Roman gods and goddesses, it is still moving away from the common religion of that time period, Christianity, and towards other less religious topics. Personally, I enjoyed the way Marlowe was able to incorporate Roman gods into his play. The way he was able to transform an almost fairy tale-like story into his own work of art while also including true historical aspects of the polytheistic Roman religion is truly amazing. To further investigate this magnificent work, click on the link below:


.http://www.marlowe-society.org/marlowe/work/dido/plot/summary.html


Bibliography

"Christopher Marlowe." Encyclopedia of World Biography. Detroit: Gale, 1998.Biography in Context. Web. 16 Nov. 2013.


"Christopher Marlowe." Gale Biography in Context. Detroit: Gale, 2010. Biography in Context. Web. 16 Nov. 2013.


"Dido Plot Summary." The Marlowe Society. The Marlowe Society, 2002. Web. 17 Nov. 2013. <http://www.marlowe-society.org/>.