Lauren Tank: November 2012 Archives

1. We must necessarily communicate certain contextual facts in order for the class to understand fully our encapsulation of our assigned time period and the arguments of our project. For example, Christopher Marlowe's upbringing was very religious: he was baptized, and his family brought him up in a life dedicated to the teachings of the Church of England. Somewhere along the line, however, Marlowe changed his religious beliefs and may or may not have become an atheist. (Katie's source specifically states that he was an atheist because of the note he delivered to the Privy Council entitled "The opinion of one Christopher (Marlowe) concerning his damnable judgment of religion, and scorn of God's word".) The Elizabethan society of the day was incredibly protestant, as the Protestant Reformation was well underway; according to "Why Devils Came when Faustus Called Them," their beliefs seriously conflicted with some of the elements of Marlowe's plays, especially the demonic conjurations in Doctor Faustus. We must make a note of this in our presentation. It was also notable that Marlowe was reported as being less interested in the political scene of the day; instead, he was more interested in the grandeur of philosophical ideas, a small detail that may very well be noteworthy along the line. What is also necessary to remember is that playwrights and artists of the day had to jump through hoops in order to get their art approved by certain censors. Marlowe had to submit his work for approval before it was allowed to be performed. His work is controversial, but how, then, was such controversy allowed to pass? This is a vital point of discussion. We should certainly note examples of how serious some of his controversial issues were, taking care to contextualize them. One such example is how his character of Doctor Faustus had been "lying with" Helen of Troy, a demon. This concept in the day would have been outlandishly controversial, so we must note how and why that would be true in order to formulate our argument as to whether or not (and why) Christopher Marlowe was considered a rebel of both his day and ours. It will also be important to communicate that there are two different version of Doctor Faustus. The extent to which we discuss the differences between the two texts will inform how much we describe those differences, but it will be have to be explained no matter what. For the article "The Nature of Evil in Doctor Faustus", the debate about the differences between the two versions is central to the argument the author is making. Another thing that will have to be made clear is that Faust has high aspirations in the beginning of the play and that once given power by Lucifer, he ends up using this power for pranks and tricks. The seven deadly sins are also important to the story, and we'll have to decide how much to assume what our audience knows about the seven deadly sins.

2. We are necessarily going to talk about the beliefs and values of the society in which the play was performed, most specifically the heavily Protestant environment and its impact upon theatre and other aspects of society of the day. Specifically, such topics as the areas of morality in which society and Marlowe's work were in conflict. We will also discuss the various perspectives and ideologies within said society as it relates to Marlowe's work; that is, we will discuss various examples of how society could have viewed his work and why. We must give some factual historical contexts such as Marlowe's own personal history, the history of the Elizabethan reign, and the history of significant political and social movements such as the Protestant Reformation. In terms of historical context, we will have to explain that England was a protestant country at the time of first performance. Therefore, the mockery of the pope in the play could either be viewed as a mockery of Christianity, or a mockery of Catholics (that the Protestants in the audience would have enjoyed). We also will have to address one of the main tenants of Christianity that the play involves: the idea of salvation and forgiveness. Because Faust does attempt to repent at the end of the play, we have to communicate to our audience that this is a very important plot point when put in the context of widely held belief about theology and Christianity. Faust's inability to repent holds very heavy theological consequence.

3. Unfortunately, we cannot include all the fascinating information that we find. For example, we may possibly have to exclude information about his "badass" death and any controversy or mystery surrounding it. We may be able to make this interesting by mentioning all the ways it is speculated that he died and leave it up for the audience to decide what they believe. Also, in our contextual explanation, we may have to exclude an explanation of the economics of the time. In order to ensure that our focus is narrowed enough to be able to concretely analyze our main thesis, discussions of his other plays as they relate to his life, his society, and our argument must be omitted. Finally, we will also not be able to talk much about his espionage experience, other than a brief touch-base, as it is not entirely relevant to our discussion of Doctor Faustus and how it does or does not make Marlowe a rebel.

Guenther, Genevieve. "Why Devils Came When Faustus Called Them." Modern Philology 109.1 (2011): 46-70. Academic Search Premier. EBSCOhost. Web. 15 Nov. 2012. .

This article discusses the beliefs that Christopher Marlowe's famous play, Doctor Faustus, had the power to conjure actual devils upon the stage during its performances. It cites two separate theories about such unholy powers and explains their contextual logic, detailing why one might be lead to believe such an idea. The article explains that within the context of the society in which the play was performed, the current theological doctrine proclaimed the beliefs that otherworldly conjurations of devils and uses of magic, even if performed upon the stage in the context of a play, had the power to unleash evil into the world. Theologians of the day preached a belief that audience members were in danger of damning themselves and endangering their chances of salvation if they allowed themselves to enjoy the play or if they even were present during the performances. Salvation was the ultimate goal for Protestants, as their daily lives were spent working toward it and praying that they would achieve it in years to come. Life on earth was fr the purpose of serving God and doing His will, and participating in any activity that was against Church doctrine, such as magic and rendezvous with devils, were deadly damning sins. Arguably, due to Christopher Marlowe's Cambridge education and theological experience, he knew that such conjurations and displays of magic were controversial and would cause protestant anxiety; therefore, he was quite the rebel of his day, whether he was an atheist or a man of faith.

I found this information about Marlowe's life and valuable contextual information from the following source:
Rutter, Tom. Cambridge Introduction to Christopher Marlowe.
West Nyack, NY, USA: Cambridge University Press, 2012. p xiv.

(Note: This is the citation given to me by the site. We'll want to recheck it later.)

Key dates
Note: in 1582 most Catholic countries adopted the new calendar proposed by Pope Gregory XIII in place of the existing Julian Calendar, moving the year ahead by ten days. England did not adopt the Gregorian Calendar until 1752, so dates given below refer to the Julian Calendar unless otherwise indicated.

  • • 17 November 1558: death of Queen Mary, followed by accession of Elizabeth I.

  • • 22 May 1561: marriage of John Marlowe and Katherine Arthur at church of St George the Martyr, Canterbury, where their children are later christened (see below).

  • • 21 May 1562: Mary Marlowe christened.

  • • 26 February 1564: Christopher Marlowe christened.

  • • May- September 1565: siege of Malta by the Turks. 18 or 28 December 1566: Margaret Marlowe christened.

  • • 28 August 1568: Mary Marlowe buried.

  • • 31 October 1568: unnamed son of John and Katherine Marlowe christened; buried 5 November.

  • • 20 August 1569: Joan Marlowe christened.

  • • 1570: Elizabeth I excommunicated by Pope Pius V.

  • • 26 July 1570: Thomas Marlowe christened; buried 7 August.

  • • 14 July 1571: Ann Marlowe christened.

  • • 23 August 1572: massacre of French Protestants begins in Paris on the evening before St Bartholomew's Day.

  • • 18 October 1573: Dorothy Marlowe christened.

  • • 8 April 1576: second Thomas Marlowe christened.

  • • December 1578: Marlowe enrols as scholar at the King's School, Canterbury.

  • • 1580: Jesuit mission to England begins.

  • • December 1580: Marlowe goes up to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.

  • • 12 April 1584: Marlowe receives BA; remains at Cambridge to study for MA. Some of his work, e.g. his translation of Ovid's Amores, may have been ­ written there.

  • • 1587: German Faustbuch published.

  • • 8 February 1587: Mary, Queen of Scots executed.

  • • 29 June 1587: Privy Council write to the authorities of Corpus Christi requesting that Marlowe be allowed to receive his MA.

  • • 10 August 1587: 'Christopher Marlo', possibly the playwright, acquires a horse in London from James Wheatley (who in 1588 sues for its return).

  • • 16 November 1587: Philip Gawdy refers in a letter to a performance of a play that may be the second part of Tamburlaine.

  • • 1588: Robert Greene alludes to Tamburlaine in Perimedes the Blacksmith; earliest ­ possible date of Doctor Faustus.

  • • July 1588: Spanish Armada defeated.

  • • 9 October 1588: Marlowe sued by Edward Elvyn for £10 lent to him in London that April.

  • • 23 December 1588 (Gregorian Calendar): assassination of Duke of Guise, referred to in The Jew of Malta.

  • • 2 August 1589 (Gregorian Calendar): death of Henri III, accession of Henri IV as King of France.

  • • 18 September 1589: Marlowe, William Bradley and Thomas Watson fight in Hog Lane, London. Bradley is killed by Watson, who is arrested along with Marlowe. Marlowe is released on bail 1 October and acquitted 3 December; Watson is found guilty of manslaughter and pardoned in February 1590.

  • • 1590: Tamburlaine the Great published, as are the first three books of Edmund Spenser's Faerie Queene. 1591: Sir Philip Sidney's Astrophil and Stella published.

  • • 1592: Marlowe's source for Doctor Faustus, the English Faust Book (a translation of the German Faustbuch), 'newly imprinted', perhaps indicating that this is not the first English edition.

  • • 26 January 1592: Robert Sidney writes to William Cecil, Lord Burghley, of Marlowe's arrest for counterfeiting in Flushing.

  • • 26 February 1592: first recorded performance of The Jew of Malta, by Strange's Men at the Rose.

  • • 3 March 1592: 'Harry the VI', possibly Shakespeare's Henry VI Part One, performed ­ by Strange's Men at the Rose.

  • • 9 May 1592: Marlowe bound over in London to keep the peace towards Allen Nicholls and Nicholas Helliot.

  • • 3 September 1592: Robert Greene dies; Marlowe is referred to in Greene's Groatsworth of Wit, purportedly written by Greene on his deathbed.

  • • 15 September 1592: Marlowe arrested following street fight in Canterbury with William Corkine, who eventually drops his legal case against him.

  • • 26 September 1592: Thomas Watson buried; his Amintae Gaudia features a Latin dedication by 'C. M.', probably Marlowe, to Mary Herbert, Countess of Pembroke.

  • • 14 December 1592: death of Sir Roger Manwood, for whom Marlowe writes a Latin epitaph.

  • • 26 January 1593: The Massacre at Paris performed by Strange's Men at the Rose.

  • • 28 January 1593: playhouses close due to plague and do not reopen until late December.

  • • 5 May 1593: xenophobic verse libel signed 'Tamburlaine' posted on Dutch church in Broad Street.

  • • 12 May 1593: Thomas Kyd arrested. 18 May 1593: warrant issued for Marlowe to appear before Privy Council.

  • • 20 May 1593: Marlowe arrested at house of Thomas Walsingham in Scadbury, Kent; brought before Privy Council and charged to report to them daily.

  • • 26 May 1593/2 June 1593: possible dates for the delivery of Richard Baines's note on Marlowe to the Privy Council.

  • • 30 May 1593: Marlowe stabbed to death at house of Eleanor Bull, Deptford; coroner's report says that he was killed in self-defence by Ingram Frizer in the presence of Robert Poley and Nicholas Skeres.

  • • 1 June 1593: Marlowe buried at St Nicholas's church, Deptford.

  • • 28 June 1593: Ingram Frizer pardoned by the Queen.

  • • 1594: Dido, Queen of Carthage and Edward II both published.

  • • 30 September 1594: first recorded performance of Doctor Faustus by the Admiral's Men at the Rose, though its first actual performance was probably earlier than this.

  • • 1597: Thomas Beard refers to Marlowe's death in his Theatre of God's Judgements.

  • • 1598: Francis Meres refers to Marlowe's death in his Palladis Tamia. First known edition of Hero and Leander published, as are George Chapman's and Henry Petowe's continuations.

  • • 1599: A version of 'The Passionate Shepherd' is published in The Passionate Pilgrim.

  • • 1 June 1599: John Whitgift, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Richard Bancroft, Bishop of London, prohibit the further publication of satires and epigrams including 'Davies' Epigrams, with Marlowe's Elegies' (i.e. his translation of Ovid), and call for existing copies to be burnt.

  • • 1600: The more familiar version of 'The Passionate Shepherd' appears in England's Helicon; Lucan's First Book (Marlowe's translation of the Pharsalia) published.

  • • 22 November 1602: Philip Henslowe lends the Admiral's Men £4 to pay William Birde and Samuel Rowley for additions to Doctor Faustus.

  • • 1604: A-text of Doctor Faustus published.

  • • 1616: B-text of Doctor Faustus published.

  • • 1633: The Jew of Malta published following performances at Court and at the Cockpit theatre.

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This page is an archive of recent entries written by Lauren Tank in November 2012.

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