Presentation on theme: "Christopher Marlowe n Born in 1564 in Canterbury, Kent. n Attended King’s School and later Corpus Christi College, Cambridge (theology and ancient languages)."— Presentation transcript:
Christopher Marlowe n Born in 1564 in Canterbury, Kent. n Attended King’s School and later Corpus Christi College, Cambridge (theology and ancient languages). n While a student at Cambridge Marlowe travelled abroad on Government business, from which information scholars conclude he was spying for Sir Francis Walsingham’s secret service. He may have infiltrated the Catholic Jesuit Community at Rheims in France.
Christopher Marlowe n However, it is also speculated that he may have become a Catholic sympathiser and a double agent while in France. n Marlowe left for London in 1587 and took up the profession of playwright. n Dates of composition are not certain: Dido, Queen of Carthage Tamburlaine the Great The History of Doctor Faustus The Jew of Malta The Massacre at Paris Edward II
Christopher Marlowe n Marlowe’s lifestyle in London was that of a single man who lived amongst a crowd of similar friends, including Paywright Thomas Kid. His contacts included intellectuals, con-men and spies. He also had political connections, including the spymaster and Secretary of State to Queen Elizabeth I, Sir Francis Walsingham. n At the time of his death (May 1593) some contemporaries claimed that Marlowe expressed atheistic views and often tried to persuade men to Atheism. n However we cannot take this as straightforward truth.
The Faust Story n It is now clear to us that the real Dr. Faust, on whom Marlowe based his play, was not a magician at all but rather an incredible braggart and trickster. His stories were bred in the German inns of the sixteenth century, an environment described by E. M. Butler as a place where "jugglers, charlatans, and quacks of all kinds thrived..., the ideal breeding ground for those crass deceptions and knavish tricks associated with the real Faust" (121).
n Dr. Faust was known to publicize himself as chief of all astrologers, the most learned chemist of all times, a palmist, a crystal gazer, and a man who could perform miracles greater than Christ (121). Unfortunately for Faust, he was never able to bring about any of these miracles (unless one wants to argue that such a man achieving a good theological degree is a miracle in itself). The only documented facts that might have given him credibility as a wizard, among his bar mates, were things that now seem trivial.
n These include such occurrences as his keeping a dog with him at meals (some of the sixteenth century general public considered demons to disguise themselves as dogs), his ability to occasionally obtain out-of-season game, and his threatening a group of monks with a poltergeist because they gave him bad wine. Whenever he would claim to bring someone back from the dead, he always needed a couple of days to prepare, no doubt to hire the right actors and create an eager audience.
n Dr. Faust was not made famous and immortalized in literature by such authors as Marlowe because of amazing acts, but rather because his amazing amount of bragging caused false stories to become exaggerated over time. In truth, the real Faust sounds more like Shakespeare's comically boastful Falstaff than the respectable man unable to avoid temptation that Marlowe creates. n Faust's own legend did grow, however, to the point of his banishment from the city of Ingostadt for being a soothsayer. Faust brought this on himself though.
n Unlike the Faustus in Marlowe's play, the real Faust went out of his way to inform people of his pact with the devil. According to Johannes Weir, Faust once came up to him and said, "I surely thought that you were my brother-in- law and therefore I looked at your feet to see whether long, curved claws projected from them" (124). Faust had to know that such a statement would not be taken lightly by many in the sixteenth century, a time connected with great fear of Satan.
Other Literary Sources n The theme of human being whose ambition and vision lead him or her to challenge or disobey a god is widespread in most cultures.
Your turn! n Can you think of any examples (religious or not) of human ambition leading to a challenge of God or gods?
Literary Sources n Marlowe’s play derives specifically from several of these: The Adam and Eve myth from the Judaeo-Christian tradition, is referred to in scene 1: Original sin is what the human race is supposed to have inherited from Adam. The fall of Lucifer from heaven to hell as a punishment for wishing to be equal with God. The Ancient Greek myth of Dedalus and Icarus, where Icarus disobeyed his father’s instructions and perished because he flew too high.