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Christopher Marlowe vs. William Shakespeare

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Kevin Tyburski

on 14 May 2012

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Transcript of Christopher Marlowe vs. William Shakespeare

Christopher Marlowe vs. William Shakespeare
The Marlowe and Shakespeare conspiracy theory debates whether the two are the same person or if they are different people. Many facts can be presented to back up the contrasting sides but no conclusion has been drawn on the subject.
Explaining the Theory
-Same profession (writing plays and other literature)
-Born in the same year (within two months)
- Knew some of the same people
-Visited the same places including theaters
-Both lived in and frequently interacted in London, England
-Fathers were both shoemakers
born on April 23, 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon
son of John Shakespeare and Mary Arden
school would have been 'King's New School'
married Ann Hathaway, a woman eight years his senior; together, they had two daughters that lived 'til adulthood.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
Christopher Marlowe
Same Person
By: Ashley Tyburski and Maya Bhagat
As mentioned before, this case has many pieces of evidence that can support either Stratfordians, people who believe William Shakespeare wrote the plays with his name on them, or Marlovians, a specific group of Anti-Stratfordians who believe Christopher Marlowe wrote the plays with the name Shakespeare on them. The following arguments are what Anti-Stratfordians use to say Shakespeare could not have penned his plays and poems.
born in Canterbury, England on February 6th, 1564
oldest son of a shoemaker
baptized two months before Shakespeare was
son of John Marlowe and Catherine Arthur
went to King's School in Canterbury
went to Cambridge and got a B. A. in 1584 and a M. A. in either 1587 or 1588
Why does it matter?
Shakespeare is considered by many to be the greatest writer of all time. It is almost impossible for the conditions and time of Shakespeare, which inspired artists of all kinds, to be repeated, even in a different form. People would like to know and credit the person whose words that they love and eternally remember, that taught them something.
Reasons for Pseudonym
The reasons for faking are mostly based on social status; If a person was a higher rank, than they would fake a name for a broader, more public audience. A commoner would to avoid persecution from the higher ranks and the government.
People do not believe Stratford-upon-Avon has the environment necessary to nurture a genius. It was a market town of 1,500 people and a slaughterhouse. There was also the distribution of sheep and their products.
When Shakespeare's parents got married, they signed with a mark. When his daughters signed an important document, they also signed with a mark. People interpret this this way: If no one else in his family is literate, why is there reason to believe Shakespeare was? Back then, if the father wasn't literate, than his children, boy or girl, were usually not. Why does this case need to have different logic implied?
Shakespeare was the son of a middle class man. His plays include intimate details about the lives of upper-classmen. If Shakespeare did not have that kind of live, how could he know so much about it?
There is no documentary evidence that Shakespeare was ever educated or literate. Without this, how could he have acquired such an extensive vocabulary?
No signed letters or manuscripts survived. This cannot help anyone prove his literacy or authorship.
The only signatures of Shakespeare are in his will. Many describe this as an illiterate scrawl; Stratfordians say it was a trembling problem in his hand from old age.
Shakespeare used inconsistent spellings in his will. This could show not much literacy because a literate person, and someone with the high education and knowledge to write such good quality literature, would not make such mistakes.
There are no documents to support Shakespeare as a writer.
These arguments, used specifically by Marlovians, say that Marlowe and Shakespeare are the same person.
Marlowe and Shakespeare had many literary similarities, too similar for them to be different people.
For his job as a secret agent he at one point was in the Netherlands on Anti-Catholic operations involving the counterfeiting of Dutch and English currency. From his travels he knew some foreign languages. Some of his experiences on his travels have thought to be referenced in his writing but nothing is certain.
In May of 1593 things went downhill and ended in a domino effect that left Marlowe dead. It started with him being accused by the police of vile atheist conceit, and was sentenced by the Privy Council to report to them everyday. Then, on May 30, 1593, he was at a meeting with three men employed by his patrons and killed in self-defense by one of the men. The body was then buried in an unmarked grave. He died almost mysteriously to the public at a fairly young age.
Another argument a Marlovian might have would be that Shakespeare was the name that Marlowe adopted. Since he was sentenced to torture, then death, he wanted to fake his death to get out of it. This concept of faking a name or identity is explained further in the presentation but a broad summary would be to get out of charges or sentences. Making Marlowe seem like he died would allow him to escape government punishment and would provide a way to stay alive longer and continue 'his' works.
A fact that supports that idea that he faked his death would be that the exact cause or motive of why he died is unknown and is generally discussed as mysterious.
In conclusion, there is no answer that is a dead-on solution to this mystery. At this point we can only assume and guess. In the future, possible evidence could be discovered to set the answer to this perplexity in stone.
So for now, we just have two very similar men in some ways and a set of very different men in others. While we have two groups of people trying to prove that their opinion, Stratfordian or Marlovian, is the correct one and that their opposing side is wrong. Until the battle is won, we can only shine light on the subject and hope that enough evidence is gathered to prove or disprove the theory and answer all the questions that are hung up in our minds. At this point though, many facts contradict each other, leaving this mystery almost unsolvable and at a standstill.
disappeared from history in the years 1858-1592
joined the Lord Chamberlain's company of actors in 1594
wrote sonnets in the years 1593 and 1601, and they were not published until 1609
wrote his will in January 1616
wrote more than thirty plays
died on April 23, 1616

his jobs consisted of a secret agent for the government and writing verse
he was atheist
he had many different views and was open about them, while he tended to get drawn into sword fights
scoffed at religion
Background Details of his Early Life
Background Details of his Adult Life
Background Details of his Early Life
Background Details of his Later Life
The idea that they were indeed the same person posing as each other hangs on the fact that Marlowe's death was faked, though that might not even be true and is not a proven fact.
This is the reason that proposed the thought of maybe Marlowe faked his death.
Line and Verse: Christopher Marlowe made blank verse popular for other playwrights, like Shakespeare. The duo's setup is so similar that people belive Shakespeare a plagarizer.
The Characters in both of their works are similar, especially in dramatics. The plots also progress with a beginning that takes off almost immediately, with the climax towards the very end of the ply, with a few lines that wrap up.
Story Structure: All or most elements of the story structure are parallel to each other, in ways like resolutions and fiery disputes at the beginning of Marlowe's Edward ll and Shakespeare's Richard ll. The two are both caught unawares by a forgotten enemy, break physical objects in anger, and their coffins are on the stage in the final scene.
Comic Scenes: Although Marlowe is thought to be a more serious writer, his humor is as genuine and strikingly hilarious as Shakespeare's.
Even then, what difference does it make if we never find out? Whoever wrote the great plays and poetry will still be a brilliant person, whose works will be remembered for generations, be it Shakespeare, Marlowe, Bacon, Oxford, or one of the seventy others accused.
In Defense of Shakespeare
There are many strong points to say that Shakespeare did not author his works. However, even if the evidence seems to indicate that he did not author his works, we, like in any fair debate, have to give the Bard and his supporters a chance to defend themselves.
In other plays, authors have mentioned Shakespeare as a playwright.
Comic Scenes- Marlowe introduced many comedy scenes, although not known for it, to other writers.
Ideology and Universalism- Both Shakespeare and Marlowe hinted at collaboration between Catholics and Protestants at a time when religious civil war threatened.
Upstart Crow Reference- Both playwrights referenced descriptive crows at the beginning of a passage or work to foreshadow or for mood.
Female Characters-Both writers were good at using female characters in writing; Shakespeare's were well developed and Marlowe's were used to point out the flaws in things like gender prejudice.
Natural vs. Supernatural- Many works of Shakespeare and Marlowe touch on magic, and secrets and the relation of the natural and supernatural world. Marlowe was interested in the goddess Hecate, who was inspiration for Hamlet, and is thought to have deliberately staged his death on her holy day.
Theology- The works of both playwrights show relations between church (religion) and state (politics).
Biblical References- Shakespeare and Marlowe both demonstrate a vast knowledge of the Bible.
Stylometric Studies- A man named Dr, Thomas Mendenhall, president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, developed a way to make a sort of fingerprint that was unique to every author based on things like the frequency of a word and how many letters the word has into an equation. Then, the equation is graphed. Marlowe's and Shakespeare's matched perfectly. The curves also were consistent, and did not change much over time as is normal.
Vocabulary- There are similar characters in different works of the contrasting authors. Dr. Faustus and Hamlet deliver their lines in a similar manner, speak 38 percent of the lines in their plays, and have a very close average for the number of lines per dialogue.
Staging and Props- Both works have similar setups and backgrounds.
Diction and Imagery- The choices of words and the image you get in your mind when you read something is similar.
Specialized Knowledge- Both writers display a greater understanding of the experience they had while in an environment.
Registration Dates- Marlowe and Shakespeare had a habit of registering their work on days of personal or historical significance.
Given the title 'gentleman' in Elizabethan England. If he didn't exist, he wouldn't have been able to receive it.
In an introduction to Shakespeare's biography, one of his friends, Ben Jonson, wrote about Shakespeare as a writer.
Other playwrights, actors and writers support that he was a writer.
Thus, bow your head and clap for these magnificent works of literature, and just leave them and there writers be. Since literature isn't about the face that made them it's about the words in it that make it so magnificent and treasured by many.
"Such stuff as dreams are made on..."
-William Shakespeare(The Tempest)

"Virtue is the fount whence honor springs."
-Christopher Marlowe(Tamburlaine the Great)
He was mentioned to as a writer by others at least 23 times.
William Shakespeare's was buried 17 feet underground. Maybe he had that done to protect his identity.
Bacino, Ted. The Shakespeare Conspiracy. N.p., 2010. Web. 4 May 2012. <http://www.theshakespeareconspiracy.com/shakespearevsmarlowe.html>.

Bacino, Ted. "Conspiracy’s Historical Background." The Shakespeare Conspiracy. N.p., 2010. Web. 7 May 2012. <http://www.theshakespeareconspiracy.com/conspiracyshistoricalbackground.html>.
Greenblatt, Stephen, and M.H. Abrams. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 8th ed. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2006. 458-459. Print.

Greenblatt, Stephen, and M.H. Abrams. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 8th ed. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2006. 493-497. Print.

Jack, Alex. "Literary Similarities Between Marlowe and Shakespeare ." The Christopher Marlowe Library. codeAVID.com, 2009. Web. 6 May 2012. <http://themarlowestudies.org/literarysimilarities.html>.

Michael Rubbo. Much Ado About Something. 2003. Video. PBS Home Video FrontlineDVD.

N.A., . "Bardolatry." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 03 May 2012. Web. 3 May 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bardolatry>.

N.A., . "Christopher Marlowe." . N.p., n.d. Web. 7 May 2012. <www.mansancode.com/marlowe as shakespeare.html>.

N.A. N.d. Photograph. eNOTES

N.A., . "Shakespeare Authorship Question." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 03 May 2012. Web. 3 May 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shakespeare_authorship_question>.

N.A., . "The International Marlowe-Shakespeare Society." The International Marlowe-Shakespeare Society. N.p., 2009. Web. 3 May 2012. <http://www.marloweshakespeare.org/TheStory.html>.

Swinburne, Algernon Charles . "Life of Christopher Marlowe." Luminarium: Anthology of English Literature. Cambridge University Press, 05 Jun 2010. Web. 4 May 2012. <http://www.luminarium.org/renlit/marlowebio.htm>.

. "William Shakespeare." poets.org. Academy of American Poets, 2012. Web. 4 May 2012. <http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/122>.

William Shakespeare. 2011. Photograph. All Great Quotes

Christopher Marlowe. 2012. Photograph. The Marlowe Society
Main Points
The Shakespeare authorship question the question that people who doubt that Shakespeare wrote the works with his name on them raise.
Some similarities between the two are:
Same profession (playwrights)
born in the same year (within two months)
Knew some of the same people
visited the same places in London, England
William Shakespeare had a very mysterious life. He is thought by some to have almost no education and be illiterate. That is a common argument made by Anti-Stratfordians. He is thought to be born on April 23, 1564, and certainly died on April 23, 1616.
Different People
Christopher Marlowe had a shadowy life- and death. He was born on February 6, 1564, and supposedly died on May 30, 1593. He had views that were scandalous in his time; he was atheist and was very open about his views. He worked as a secret agent for the government, and had many narrow escapes in his job.
In that case, shouldn't we forget about who wrote Shakespeare? Who cares? We'll be invading his privacy, and who wants to risk being cursed?
Many historians and scholars want to find out who wrote what in considered by many to be the best pieces literature of all time because they know that such times and conditions that would raise and influence a writer will never happen again, and want to give credit to that person.
Some things that Anti-Stratfordians believe show that Shakespeare could not have written those works are that there is no evidence of his going to school or being literate at all, and there are no official documents, like manuscripts or signed letters, that support him as a writer. There is only his signature on his will, that some people think is an illiterate scrawl, while others believe his hand was shaking when he wrote it.
Some reasons that Christopher Marlowe could have written the Shakespearean works are that he had the education and experience as a writer, his writing style and form are very similar, and he had reason for a pseudonym.
Some reasons Shakespeare wrote the works are that the literature has his name on it, and that various acquaintances (actors, fellow playwright/authors, friends) vouched for that fact.
As of now, no one knows for sure who the true author of the works with the name 'William Shakespeare' is.The works will still hold their glory because we all appreciate the work of such a brilliant author. It also doesn't matter who the writer is since literature has no definite face to represent it.
Even then, who wrote the works of the great author 'Shakespeare?' No one knows. It could be a collaboration, one anonymous author, or the greatest act of plagiarism of all time.
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