HomeAbout the AuthorRenaissance WritingRenaissance LinksOther WritingSpeechesDonna's BlogSlideshowsNuggets
Donna N. Murphy
Christopher Marlowe's Writing

The writing from what I view as Marlowe's best play, Edward II, is on par with the writing in II and III Henry VI, while its plot is superior to both.  Those who say that Marlowe doesn't "sound" like Shakespeare must keep chronology in mind, since Shakespeare markedly improved over time. Marlowe sounds like early Shakespeare.  I believe Edward II and the first versions of II and III Henry VI were all written c. 1590.

Excerpt from Christopher Marlowe’s Edward II, V.i.1-84 (aka Scene xxi.1-84)
King Edward II has been captured, and Leicester and Winchester attempt to convince him to abdicate in favor of his young son. If the king abdicates, his enemy, Mortimer, will rule as regent. If Edward II does not abdicate, however, his son will be disinherited.
Leicester. Be patient, good my lord, cease to lament.
Imagine Killingworth castle were your court,
And that you lay for pleasure here a space,
Not of compulsion or necessity.

King Edward. Leicester, if gentle words might comfort me,
Thy speeches long ago had eased my sorrows,
For kind and loving hast thou always been.
The griefs of private men are soon allayed,
But not of kings. The forest deer, being struck,
Runs to an herb that closeth up the wounds,
But when the imperial lion's flesh is gored,
He rends and tears it with his wrathful paw,
And, highly scorning that the lowly earth
Should drink his blood, mounts into the air;
And so it fares with me, whose dauntless mind
The ambitious Mortimer would seek to curb,
And that unnatural queen, false Isabel,
That thus hath pent and mewed me in a prison.
For such outrageous passions cloy my soul
As with the wings of rancour and disdain
Full often am I soaring up to heaven,
To plain me to the gods against them both;
But when I call to mind I am a king,
Methinks I should revenge me of the wrongs
That Mortimer and Isabel have done.
But what are kings, when regiment is gone,
But perfect shadows in a sunshine day?
My nobles rule, I bear the name of king;
I wear the crown; but am controlled by them,
By Mortimer, and my unconstant queen,
Who spots my nuptial bed with infamy;
Whilst I am lodged within this cave of care,
Where sorrow at my elbow still attends
To company my heart with sad laments
That bleeds within me for this strange exchange.
But tell me, must I now resign my crown
To make usurping Mortimer a king?

Winchester. Your grace mistakes, it is for England's good
And princely Edward's right we crave the crown.
King Edward. No, 'tis for Mortimer, not Edward's head,
For he's a lamb, encompassèd by wolves
Which in a moment will abridge his life.
But if proud Mortimer do wear this crown,
Heavens turn it to a blaze of quenchless fire,
Or, like the snaky wreath of Tisiphon,
Engirt the temples of his hateful head!
So shall not England's vine be perishèd,
But Edward's name survives, though Edward dies.
Leicester. My lord, why waste you thus the time away?
They stay your answer. Will you yield your crown?
King Edward. Ah, Leicester, weigh how hardly I can brook
To lose my crown and kingdom without cause,
To give ambitious Mortimer my right,
That, like a mountain, overwhelms my bliss,
In which extreme my mind here murdered is.
But what the heavens appoint I must obey.
[He removes the crown.]
Here, take my crown, the life of Edward too!
Two kings in England cannot reign at once.
But stay a while. Let me be king till night,
That I may gaze upon this glittering crown;
So shall my eyes receive their last content,
My head, the latest honour due to it,
And jointly both yield up their wishèd right.
Continue ever, thou celestial sun;
Let never silent night possess this clime.
Stand still, you watches of the element;
All times and seasons, rest you at a stay,
That Edward may be still fair England's king.
But day's bright beams doth vanish fast away,
And needs I must resign my wishèd crown.
Inhuman creatures, nursed with tiger's milk,
Why gape you for your sovereign's overthrow?
My diadem, I mean, and guiltless life.
[He puts the crown back on.]
See, monsters, see, I'll wear my crown again.
What, fear you not the fury of your king?
But, hapless Edward, thou art fondly led;
They pass not for thy frowns as late they did,
But seek to make a new-elected king;
Which fills my mind with strange despairing thoughts,
Which thoughts are martyrèd with endless torments,
And in this torment comfort find I none
But that I feel the crown upon my head,
And therefore let me wear it yet a while.

Marlowe, Queen Elizabeth, and the Archbishop of Canterbury
Did Marlowe go to Scotland after his "Death"?
Clue from Edmund Spenser?
Clue from Thomas Nashe?
Marlowe, Shakespeare and Religion
How Shakespeare Thought Like Marlowe
The Nature of Genius
Shakespeare's Knowledge of Italy
Shakespeare Was an Adept
Why it Probably Wasn't the Earl of Oxford
Why it Probably Wasn't Sir Francis Bacon
Why Marlowe's Death is Dubious
The Wise Man's Paradox
Christopher Marlowe's Writing
Marlowe-Shakespeare Similarities
Copyright 2017 by Donna N. Murphy