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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: December ::
Re: Shakespeare and Marlowe
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.1348  Thursday, 31 December 1998.

[1]     From:   Ed Taft <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 29 Dec 1998 10:57:45 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Shakespeare and Marlowe

[2]     From:   Linda Stumbaugh <
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        Date:   Tue, 29 Dec 1998 10:12:55 -0800
        Subj:   Re Marlowe and Old Hamlet's Ghost


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ed Taft <
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Date:           Tuesday, 29 Dec 1998 10:57:45 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Shakespeare and Marlowe

I'm grateful to Francois Laroque for a finely argued post on Marlowe/
Shakespeare that in itself could be expanded into a fine monograph. I
would suggest that another aspect of influence might be to compare 5.1
in *ED II* and the second part of 4.1 in *Richard II.* Since the
latter's date of publication is generally agreed to be 1595 at the
earliest, Marlowe's play probably came first (there is an extant octovo
printed in 1594), and so his 5.1 probably influenced Shakespeare's 4.1.
Both scenes are about the difficulty of a king giving up his crown under
force, and both scenes use the symbol of the crown to good effect.
Indeed, in each scene, the king alternates between extreme moods of
resignation and futile definace, and the movement of the crown (on the
head, off the head, and so on) signifies what is going on.

Shakespeare's innovation seems to have been to take an essentially
private scene (only Edward, Leicester, Winchester, and Trussel are
present in 5.1 of *Ed II.*) and make it public, with the result that
dramatic intensity is thereby increased (as is Richard's potential for
mischief against Bolingbroke's "new spring of time."). Also, Mortimer,
Jr., is not present when Edward rages, but Bolingbroke is when Richard
goes into his histrionics.

There are also *very* subtle echoes of Marlowe's 5.1 in Shakespeare's
4.1, e.g., Edward says,

                But what are kings when regiment is gone,
                But perfect shadows in a sunshine day?
                - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
                But tell me, must I now resign my crown
                To make usurping Mortimer a king?
                                (5.1. 26-27; 36-37)

And there are lots more. The larger question, and here I disagree a bit
with Laroque, is whether a Blomian "anxiety of influence" exists. While
it is impossible to get inside Shakespeare's head, I think that the
answer is, "probably not." Shakespeare is able to compliment Marlowe and
to outdo him, and he knows that. Anxious, no. Aware of Marlowe's
greatness (and even more aware of his own), yes.

This Shakespeare fellow did not lack confidence in himself, no matter
what Sonnets 29 and 110-111 seem to say about him.

Happy new year,
--Ed Taft

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Linda Stumbaugh <
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Date:           Tue, 29 Dec 1998 10:12:55 -0800
Subject:        Re Marlowe and Old Hamlet's Ghost

Having followed both of these threads with great interest, I have a very
tentative idea regarding a relationship between these two discussions.

Some time ago there was a posting regarding Dr Faustus on a Renaissance
list of which I am a member.  I admit to having read it many years ago
and not having all the details of the play to hand.  However, one of the
subscribers to that list mentioned that the model for Dr. Faustus was a
scholar from Wittenberg.  I guess my first question is whether anyone
can tell me more about this (I am the writer who has very limited
library access).  Secondly, if this is the case, it seems that Gertude's
plea to Hamlet to "go not to Wittenberg" takes on a meaning that might
not have been attributed to it in the past, i.e. going to Wittenberg may
mean assuming a frame of mind not unlike Faustus'; this jeopardizes the
Court and Hamlet and Hamlet's damnation is a possibility.  Is it
possible that Hamlet's questioning of his own perception of the Ghost
and his willingness to follow it link him to Faustus and to Marlowe?  Is
it also possible that with this reference, Shakespeare is setting his
audience up to follow the play a certain way?  To make comparisons with
Faustus?  To make comparisons between himself and Marlowe?  (I know this
latter kind of speculation is discouraged.)

This has been bumping around in my brain for several weeks now and I
guess I might as well throw it into the ring for some responses.

As an aside, has anyone ever read the Hawk and Handsaw lines in II.ii as
references to acting?  They seem a nice lead in to Polonius'
announcement about the arrival of the actors.  Again, does this make any
kind of sense?  More sense than thinking of them as birds or handtools,
as the Riverside notes gloss (I can't find my Arden edition to check
what they have to say)?

Thanks for all your time, and for some interesting reading.

Curious,
Linda Stumbaugh
 

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