By Harry Blamires

`It is nice to work out a reprint and entire updating of this recognized old travel de strength, with its proof of colossal interpreting and actually millions of priceless facts.' - instances academic complement

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    Sometimes highly dramatic use of the simplest devices of repetition and alliteration may create a pulsing sense of dash and urgency at a moment of crisis. ’ Often a momentous scene of crucial action may be condensed into a few short lines that do their work obliquely and make a curiously concentrated impact. In A Gest of Robyn Hode the knight returns home to his wife after having been helped at the last moment to pay his debt to the Abbot of St Mary’s, York. ’ The oblique revelation can serve a tragic purpose too.

    Bring out my footstool’, Tamburlaine cries, and Bajazet is let out so that Tamburlaine can tread on him in mounting his throne. Eventually Bajazet ends his humiliation by beating his own brains out against the side of the cage. Thereupon his wife, Zabina, runs against the cage and brains herself too. In Part 2 conquered kings are harnessed, bitted, reined and whipped: they draw Tamburlaine’s chariot. But for all the excesses of action and rhetoric, Marlowe’s ‘mighty line’ and his instinct for what tells on the stage made a powerful impact on the Elizabethans.

    Finally the moral of the whole is summed up in six points at the end with a precision befitting the pulpit. And the general message had special contemporary political implications in drawing attention to the dangers of disputed succession at a time when Queen Elizabeth was being urged to marry. The influence of the Morality play is evident. Ferrex stands listening to the alternating advice of good and evil counsellors, Dordan and Hermon, the one urging restraint, the other inciting to strife by flattery and slander.

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