C. Marlowe: Critical Analysis Essay, Research Paper
Christopher Marlowe was born on February 6,1564, the oldest son of a shoemaker. He was very well educated. At twenty-three, he went off to London and became the dramatist for the theatre company owned by Lords Admiral and Strange. He was nicknamed Kit by his close friends. In the spring of 1593, a friend of Marlowe s was captured and tortured by the Queen’s Privy Council. Based on this ‘evidence,’ the Council was preparing to arrest him. Before this arrest could take place, he was killed in a brawl at a rooming-house in the town of Deptford. He was staying there with three of his friends. On the night of May 30, 1593, the four of them had just finished eating when Marlowe and one of his friends began arguing over the bill. He eventually grabbed his friend s dagger and attacked him from behind, and in the resulting fight, his friend regained his dagger and stabbed and killed Marlowe. He was quickly pardoned on grounds of self-defense, and his employers did not fire him.
Both the timing of Marlowe s death and the lack of any retribution against his murderer have led some scholars to theorize that his death was faked and Marlowe himself took up a new identity to escape the Privy Council. Some go so far as to state that this new identity was that of William Shakespeare.
Marlowe was remembered for his plays including works such as The Famous Tragedy of the Rich Jew of Malta, Edward the Second, and the infamous Dr. Faustus. His most ambitious work was the heroic epic Tamburlaine the Great; a play in two parts with five acts each. This was in poem form, as all plays were then, but it has the added distinction of being the first play written in English blank verse. He was the first to write a genuine tragedy in English, paving the way for Shakespeare. Marlowe also wrote one of the most famous lyric poems in the English language, “The Passionate Shepherd to his Love”.
This poem can be described as an alluring poem of seduction. A great number of poems deal with this topic, it is used directly to seduce a narrative that has already taken place. Some are clothed in romantic metaphors while others create a stir that causes the reader to blush. The methods of seduction used in Christopher Marlowe’s “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” conveys an innocent side of seduction. The wooer must offer the beloved something of value or there would be no need to seduce. In “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love,” the lover is offering a fictitious life to his love. There is no hint of reality and nature is completely hyperbolized in order to create a pastoral fantasy. This is illustrated by the quotation, “And I will make thee a bed of roses/And a thousand fragrant poises”. The poem uses this elevated state of nature to embody the love felt for the beloved, yet it cannot be reasonably believed. Marlowe’s approach is fanciful and can only be looked at as a metaphor of love. His poem appeals to a child’s ideas.
There is also an element of power, which underlies the poem. The power is being given to his love. Within Marlowe’s poem there is a suggestion that the pleas of the wooer are not truly pleas but demands. A charge of “come live with me, and be my love,/And we will all the pleasure prove” repeats itself three times throughout the poem. All of the benefits that the poem emphasizes become a bargain for the beloved if she shares her life with her seducer. The emphasis on “come” creates not a gently persuasive argument but a command given by the speaker. Although it may be clearer using a demand in order to persuade a lover it would not be the best means of seducing them. In the “Passionate Shepherd to His Love,” the scene, which is set, is very pure and no aspect of sex is approached. The only mention of pleasure comes solely from nature and is completely virginal. The ways in which they spend their time is taken up with pure and simple things like “sit[ting] upon the rocks/Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks”. This is another example of the lack of realism and experience the poem displays. It would be na ve to assume that two lovers spending their lives together would never fulfill their relationship.
In “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love,” nature is used but not brought into the character’s lives. They will use it but will not be part of it. This is evident when the speaker describes much of their lives as watching or using the environment but never really experiencing it. “The shepherds’ swains shall dance and sing/For thy delight each May morning”. The gift being presented in this poem is nature itself. They will not make it part of their love. Marlowe surrounds his poem in pastoral beauty but treats the person to whom he is writing as na ve and innocent. He makes no real effort to seduce her. He only presents the information and demands that she follows him to an imaginary world, relying on her ignorance. Marlowe’s poem does little to seduce. He generalizes women as innocent, which can be interpreted as ignorant.
The Passionate Shepherd to His Love, is a poem that glamorizes love to the aspect of that of a child, yet can still be appreciated by a mature audience of any age. It is a poem that explores the ideas of seduction and power in a way as to win the affections of one s true love, however, these elements alone may not be the key to the heart and soul.