The rhetoric of ethos in the plays of Christopher Marlowe and George Peele : the language of English Renaissance drama
This thesis consists of a rhetorical analysis of eight Elizabethan plays. I consider four by George Peele: The Battle of Alcazar, Edward I, David and Bethsabe and The Arraignment of Paris, and four by Christopher Marlowe: Dido Queen of Carthage, Tamburlaine Part One, Doctor Faustus, and Edward II. I confine myself to the analysis of the rhetoric of ethos, and show how the characters of Elizabethan drama are created by such rhetoric, and how they are rhetorical as opposed to psychological creations. This adumbrates a central theme of this thesis, which seeks to remove all preconceptions which might lead to the anachronistic imposition of a modern realism on these dramas. I seek to recreate as far as possible in the reader the sense of a contemporary audience sensibility whilst at the same time remaining aware of any marked incipient realism, such as we find, I believe, in Marlowe's Edward II. At the same time I seek to uncover the theatrical (and by extension, social) tensions of the age with regard to the complex interaction of a more strictly moral ethos with the rhetoric (both visual and verbal) of what I have termed 'delight' or delectatio. I interrogate the ways in which these dramatists either sought to combine these rhetorics or, alternatively, sought to exploit the clash between them for specific dramatic ends. In short, this thesis shows how the knowledge and practice of rhetoric was not merely a superficial facet of a dramatist's technique, but was an integral part of his literary and theatrical world.