The Plays of Christopher Marlowe and George Peele
Rhetoric and Renaissance Sensibility
This work is concerned with the evaluation of rhetoric as an essential aspect of Renaissance sensibility. It is an analysis of the Renaissance world viewed in terms of literary style and aesthetic. Eight plays are analysed in some detail: four by George Peele: The Battle of Alcazar, Edward I, David and Bethsabe, and The Arraignment of Paris; and four by Christopher Marlowe: Dido Queen of Carthage, Tamburlaine Part One, Dr Faustus and Edward II. The work is thus partly a comparative study of two important Renaissance playwrights; it seeks to establish Peele in particular as an important figure in the history and evolution of the theatre. Verbal rhetoric is consistently linked to an analysis of the visual, so that the reader/viewer is encouraged to assess the plays holistically, as unified works of art. Emphasis is placed throughout on the dangers of reading Renaissance plays with anachronistic expectations of realism derived from modern drama; the importance of Elizabethan audience expectation and reaction is considered, and through this the wider artistic sensibility of the period is assessed.