Tamburlaine, Part One- Christopher Marlowe

This is unusual for a Marlowe play in that the anti-hero doesn’t get his comeuppance (and won’t in the sequel, either). Unfortunately, I put off writing this post until some time after I’d read it, so I’ve largely forgotten what I wanted to say! Therefore, bullet points.

-Zenocrate is not a good person. She regrets the deaths of Bajazeth and his wife, but only after she helped torment them to suicide. She’s a pretty good partner for Tamburlaine– a little softer, but not going to have serious moral qualms.

-The language, oh my God the language. It’s lovely, and consistently so. Here’s a particular favorite bit:

Nature that framed us of four elements,
Warring within our breast for regiment,
Doth teach us all to have aspiring minds:
Our souls, whose faculties can comprehend
The wondrous architecture of the world
And measure every wandering planet’s course,
Still climbing after knowledge infinite
And always moving as the restless spheres,
Wills us to wear ourselves and never rest
Until we reach the ripest fruit of all,
That perfect bliss and sole felicity,
The sweet fruition of an earthly crown.
It’s both beautiful and illustrative of Tamburlaine’s character– all that striving focused on something ultimately a bit anticlimactic and unworthy.
-The symbolism of the black tent is terrifying. Read it and you’ll know what I mean. Also the contrast of Tamburlaine’s speech about beauty while having the virgins slaughtered.
-I was surprised by how much dignity Tamburlaine’s incompetent enemies were allowed.

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