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Tamburlaine the Great, Part I


Written in 1587 or 1588

A play loosely based on the life of Central Asian emperor Timur "the lame". It was a milestone in Elizabethan public drama because it was a turn from the clumsy language and loose plotting of the earlier Tudor dramatists to fresh and vivid language, memorable action, and intellectual complexity.


From jigging veins of rhyming mother-wits,

And such conceits as clownage keeps in pay,

We'll lead you to the stately tent of war,

Where you shall hear the Scythian Tamburlaine

Threatening the world with high astounding terms,

And scourging kingdoms with his conquering sword.

View but his picture in this tragic glass,

And then applaud his fortunes as you please.

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Tamburlaine - positive or negative?

I believe that the following quotation is quite telling. Tamburlaine's ambition is exorbitant and Marlowe gives him perfect words to describe it. "Nature, that fram'd us of our four elements Warring within our breasts for regiment, Doth teach us all to have aspiring minds. Our souls, whose faculties can comprehend The wondrous architecture of the world, And measure every wandering planet's course, Still climbing after knowledge infinite, And always moving as the restless spheres, Wills us to wear ourselves and never rest, Until we reach the ripest fruit of all, That perfect bliss and sole felicity, The sweet fruition of an earthly crown." and after a moment hubris enters the stage... what do you think about Tamburlaine: was he a positive or negative character? We know that he fell but maybe he was positive to some extent? What's your opinion?

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