Christopher Marlowe

Start Your Free Trial

Compare and contrast Christopher  Marlowe and William Shakespeare as contemporary innovative dramatists

Expert Answers info

Lynnette Wofford eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2011

write6,974 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Business

William Shakespeare (1564–1616) and Christopher Marlowe (1564–1593) were born in the same year, but Marlowe died much earlier, meaning that he had a far shorter literary career. They both were the sons of tradesmen but their careers were quite different. Marlowe attended Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, where he obtained both BA and MA degrees. After graduation, he entered into service to the Queen and may have worked as a government spy, although details about his life are not known with any degree of accuracy. Shakespeare, on the other hand, did not attend university and began his theatrical career as an actor.

Marlowe and Shakespeare wrote both poetry and drama. Marlowe, however, wrote only five plays, all of which were histories and tragedies, while Shakespeare wrote comedies as well as historical and tragic plays. Both also wrote both short and long poems, but Marlowe also produced acclaimed translations of Ovid and Lucan from Latin, while Shakespeare, with "small Latin and less Greek", did not engage in translation.

The greater volume and variety of Shakespeare's work has made him acclaimed as the most important English playwright, and thus he has received far more attention in popular culture as a writer than Marlowe, while Marlowe has also been the subject of much speculation concerning his possible role as a spy and the complicated circumstances of his death, as well as being an admired writer, but less famous than Shakespeare.

Marlowe was one of the University Wits, and combined great erudition with a flair for dramatic, heroic narrative. He is considered an innovator in use of blank verse and development of the genre of revenge tragedy . His work was strongly influenced by the...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 552 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

lusie0520 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2015

write147 answers

starTop subject is Literature

check Approved by eNotes Editorial