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Title: Marlowe and monarchy
Author: May, Simon
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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Focusing on the works of Christopher Marlowe (1564-93), this thesis explores the complex engagement of popular drama with the political and religious writing of the Elizabethan fin de siècle. It focuses on the five plays by Marlowe that feature royal protagonists: 1-2 Tamburlaine (1587), Dido, Queen of Carthage (1588), Edward II (1592), and The Massacre at Paris (1593). By interpreting each play in its immediate political context, it shows that Marlowe did not deal with monarchy in the abstract but responded to current affairs - from the incursions of the Ottoman Empire to the threat of the Spanish Armada, from the conspiracy claims of Catholic polemic to the debate surrounding England's involvement in continental warfare. The introduction situates the thesis in the critical and historiographical context relating to Marlowe and to the relationship between literature and politics in the early modern period; it provides the justification for reading Marlowe's plays as topical statements. Chapter One looks at 1-2 Tamburlaine in the light of contemporary attitudes to the Ottoman-Safavid War. Chapter Two shows that Dido, Queen of Carthage adapted the stories and tropes of polemic to reflect fears of Catholic conspiracy and Spanish invasion. Chapter Three reads Edward II as a creative response to the print war of 1591-2, which centred on the moral character of the queen's closest counsellors. Chapter Four proposes that Marlowe's final play, The Massacre at Paris, employed arguments drawn from Reason of State to influence decisions at the 1593 Parliament. The thesis concludes by suggesting that despite Marlowe's reputation as a radical overreacher, his drama displays considerable sympathy for the monarchs who must rule precariously and without the option of private happiness.
Supervisor: Kewes, Paulina Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: English literature--Early modern ; 1500-1700--History and criticism ; Monarchy in literature ; Literature and society--Great Britain--History--16th century