Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Delightful imagery and depraved savagery

That is Marlowe's 'Tamburlaine' in a nutshell. I so badly wanted him to be struck down, either by one of his equally terrible allies or by one of the opposing kings or soldiers. That's not Marlowe's game, but I knew that ahead of time. It still bugged me. Anyway, I got through 'Tamburlaine' and am now studying what the critics of the early 1900's thought of him. Tamburlaine reminds me of another depraved ruler in a similar time, and if you will forgive me, I am going to connect this fellow to 'Mahabharat'. King Kansa of Mathura wasn't actually in the 'Mahabharata', but the Chopras thought he would make a great addition to their massive saga story. Kansa was Krishna's monstrous uncle whose death was prophesied on the day Kansa's sister married his closest friend. It was foretold that Devaki would give birth to eight sons, and the eighth son would return to kill Kansa one day. Kansa quickly locked his sister and his friend up and proceeded to slaughter each child as it was born. Of course, Krishna escaped and went on to fulfill the sage's decree. Too bad such a death was not foretold of Tamburlaine. Okay, I'm done talking about 'The Mahabharata'. I seem to do that a lot. Back to 'Tamburlaine' and his unforgivable deeds.
Marlowe drew a variety of images from the dank tarn of his mind to craft a violent story that would rival the likes of Caligula, Herod the Great, or Ivan the Terrible. What's worse, his wife actually approved of what he was doing. His allies, dastardly kings themselves, were behind him all the way. I thought at first that they were just with him out of fear, and that when he met his end, they would turn against his successor. Maybe they would have, as Marlowe closed the story at Tamburlaine's passing. It takes a lot of charisma gone wrong to create such a legendary figure. Is Tamburlaine a man to be admired? His violent streak was not changed by his wife's passing, and surprisingly, I suspect she was the only one he ever really loved. She was greater than Helen, greater than Venus, and at her passing, he mourned bitterly before continuing his reign of terror. I guess it's better than some blood-thirsty fellows who would kill their entire family along with everyone else.
A scene from the saga got me thinking pretty hard. A rival king and queen are thrown into the dungeon. Rather than face an ignoble future, they commit suicide in one of the more horrible ways that I have ever heard of. It takes quite a bit of dedication to do what they did. And I had to wonder why they did it. Was it fear of being shamed? Maybe just cutting to the chase instead of languishing for months and years to come.  Hard to say. Anyway, that's what's been on my mind of late. Back to the critics I go. BYE.

No comments: