Marlowe who was the son of a shoemaker was born in Canterbury less than three months before the birth of Shakespeare. He was educated at King’s School, Canterbury, and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. Where he acquired heterodox views on religion. After going down from Cambridge, he became a secret service agent of some kind and traveled abroad in this capacity. He settled in London in 1586 and soon joined the Lord Admiral’s Company of Players. His career as a dramatist must have begun soon after his career as an actor. On 30 th May 1593 he was stabbed in an inn at Deptford by a shady secret-service agent of the name of Frizer and died at the age of twenty-nine years and three months.
The dramatic activity of Marlowe comprises of six years starting from 1587 to 1593. During these years he has written six exceptionally beautiful plays that reflect his essential spirit and nature mainly full of passion and poetry. Each drama mainly reflects some wild intemperate passion that eventually reaches height until it destroys itself. The lust for empire, power, lucre, knowledge forms the main background of all the plays. Some of the works of Marlowe are illustrated below.
“Tamburlaine” was Marlowe’s first powerful play. It is the story of a Scythian shepherd who dreams of world conquest and achieves his aspiration magnificently. But the drama also has many drawbacks like a weak plot. The scheme seems to be nay and absurd. Tamburlaine symbolizes indomitable human will, strength, and courage. His fearless vision charms everyone Overall Tamburlaine is considered to be one of the most beautiful works of Marlowe in which the morning starts of his poetry sing together.
Then comes “The Tragical History of Dr.Faustus which is another masterpiece. The story revolves around Faustus, a scholar who sells his soul to the devil in exchange for gaining universal knowledge. The story contains conflict, failure, intense. emotions. The central theme is the loss that comes repeatedly again and again.
” The Jew of Malta” is also considered to be Marlowe’s most popular work where Barbaras, the Mediterranean moneylender with its evil dreams of wealth foreshadows Shakespeare’s Shylock. Some say that it is dedicated to the spirit of Machiavelli. Overall when compared to the previous two plays, this play is way bitter and stronger than them.
“The Massacre of Paris” is generally considered to be Marlowe’s crudest work. The play bears some magnificent speeches emotional lines and glorious touches of tragedy. But the characters are finely developed and the plot is weak.
Finally Edward the Second which is undoubtedly the masterpiece of Marlowe in which we find certain touches of his highest point of excellence. It is a great historical and political play. It is different from most of his other plays in many ways. The plot is strong and the characters are perfectly well developed. It is absolutely capable of touching our emotions and imagination just like Shakespearean tragedies. Edward the Second is the artistic beauty of an exceptionally talented writer-Marlowe.