Tragedy before Marlow: Swinburne’s remarks, “Before him there was neither genuine blank verse nor a genuine tragedy in our language. After his arrival the way was paved for Shakespeare.” With the advent of Marlowe, Miracle and Morality plays vanished. He brought Drama out of the old rut of street presentation and made it a perfect art and a thing of beauty. After the Reformation, the Mystery and Morality plays were disliked by the public at large until the advent of University Wits the greatest of whom was Marlowe.
It was in the fifteenth century that tragedy came to English dramatic field. This was due to the Revival of Learning in Europe commonly referred to as the Renaissance and the translation of great Italian tragedies. Italian Renaissance exercised a vital influence on the development of English Drama. The first English tragedy was Gorboduc (1565) by Thomas Norton and Thomas Sackville. In style and treatment of theme Seneca was very much their model. Although this tragedy showed some innovation, yet most of the Senecan qualities such as long speeches, ghosts, gruesome murders and talks and talks were very much there. The tragedies that followed Seneca had the same qualities and properties. It required the mighty efforts of a genius to free the Elizabethan Drama from the worst features of the Senecan tragedies and it was Christopher Marlowe who has achieved this foundation for the realm of English Dramatic Literature. There are umpteen characteristic of Marlovian tragedies. In discussing Marlowe, we can point out how he formulated the English Drama and especially Tragedy which was improved upon and perfected by a genius like Shakespeare who owes Marlowe for all his greatness and grandeur. Because had there been no Marlowe, there would have been no Shakespeare. It is also due to Marlowe that English Drama for the first time was bestirred with the vigorous poetry and passion. He has rightly been called the Morning... [continues]
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