The Influence of Marlowe in the
Works of Shakespeare
Marlowe, then, naturally
infiltrates a discussion of Shakespeare’s engagement with Spenser
because, for Shakespeare, Marlowe had begun the project of
counter-laureate authorship that Shakespeare would complete
Cheney, Patrick. 2008. Shakespeare's Literary Authorship. United
Kingdom: Cambridge University Press. p.25
Of greater significance than the point at
which the sense of emulation emerges as
documentable evidence is the firmness with which Marlowe’s influence
rooted itself in Shakespeare and developed, for it continued to
thrive for 18 years after Marlowe’s death, roughly from 1593-1611,
the remainder of Shakespeare’s career.
2007. Shakespeare’s Marlowe: The Influence of Christopher Marlowe on
Shakespeare’s Artistry. Hampshire England: Ashgate Publishing
When Marlowe is writing like this [in
Tamburlaine] he bears comparison with Shakespeare in his finest
flights of rhetoric – the battle speeches of Henry V, the eloquence
of Mark Antony in Julius Caesar or of Cleopatra in Antony and
Stanley. 2006. Shakespeare and Co. London: Allen Lane (an imprint of
Penguin Books). p.84
That he was mightily impressed and
influenced by Marlowe is not in doubt; it is also clear that in his
earliest plays Shakespeare stole or copied some of his lines,
parodied him, and generally competed with him. Marlowe was the
contemporary writer that most exercised him. . . . He haunts
Shakespeare’s expression, like a figure standing by his shoulder.
Peter. 2005. Shakespeare: The Biography. Vintage Books: London.
A nearly collusive relationship between
the two dramatists, starting around 1590, really ensured that
Tamburlaine's revolution in form and significant ideas would not die
out. Much depended upon a fresh attitude to creativity itself, and
it was Marlowe who most encouraged Shakespeare to bring stateliness
and a high poetic habit to the drama.
2005. Christopher Marlowe: Poet & Spy. Oxford University Press.
Shakespeare almost certainly saw
[Tamburlaine], and he probably went back again and again, … from its
effect upon his early work, it appears to have had upon him an
intense, visceral, indeed life-transforming impact.
Stephen. 2004. Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became
Shakespeare. New York, NY: W.W. Norton and Company. p.189
We must keep in mind that Marlowe was one
of Shakespeare's most influential teachers, that Shakespeare's plays
would have been very different from what they are – and may not have
been at all – were it not for the Marlovian example.
Russ. 2004. ‘Marlowe and Style’, in The Cambridge Companion to
Christopher Marlowe, ed. Peter Cheney. United Kingdom: Cambridge
University Press. p.67
Nor was As You Like It Shakespeare’s only
acknowledgement of the influence of Marlowe. Shakespeare quoted
Marlowe in The Merry Wives of Windsor, may have collaborated with
him on the three parts of Henry VI, and is clearly influenced by him
in a host of plays.
2004. ‘Marlowe’s reception and influence’, in The Cambridge
Companion to Christopher Marlowe, ed. Peter Cheney. United Kingdom:
Cambridge University Press. p.286
Yet Marlowe, himself a wild original, was
Shakespeare’s starting point, curiously difficult for the young
Shakespeare to exorcise completely.… And yet that means the
strongest writer known to us served a seven-year apprenticeship to
Christopher Marlowe, only a few months older than himself, but
London’s dominant dramatist from 1587 to 1593, the year of Marlowe’s
extinction by the authorities.
ed. 2002. Bloom’s Major Dramatists: Christopher Marlowe. New York:
Chelsea House. p.10
The player [Shakespeare] seems to have
acted in the Cambridge poet’s The Jew of Malta—a work Shakespeare
recalled closely in his own plays and which was not in print.
1998. Shakespeare: A Life. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p.124
Shakespeare, I suggest, only became
Shakespeare because of the death of Marlowe. And he remained
peculiarly haunted by that death.
Jonathan. 1997. The Genius of Shakespeare. London: Macmillan
Publishers, Ltd. p.105
Shakespeare's incorporation and revision
of original writing by Marlowe… would help to account for the
subliminal Marlovian characteristics of the Henry VI plays, their
invariable association with each other and with Titus Andronicus,
Richard II and Richard III… Shakespeare may have become the genius
he was as a result of defining his talents and values in relation to
those of a rival genius, Marlowe.
Thomas, 'Tamburlaine stalks in Henry VI', Computers and the
Humanities, 30 (1996), 280.
Shakespeare seems to be very much aware of
what Marlowe is up to and chooses to plot a parallel course,
virtually stalking his rival.
James. 1991. Rival Playwrights: Marlowe, Jonson and Shakespeare. New
York, NY: Columbia University Press. p.103
The two men may have been acquainted;
certainly Shakespeare knew Marlowe’s work and responded to it in his
own first efforts.
Samuel. 1977. William Shakespeare: A Compact Documentary Life. New
York, NY: Oxford University Press. p.166
In short, Marlowe’s historic achievement
was to marry great poetry to the drama; his was the originating
genius. William Shakespeare never forgot him: in his penultimate,
valedictory play, The Tempest, he is still echoing Marlowe’s
Rowse, A. L.
1973. Shakespeare: The Man. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press. (1988
But above all Dido suggests Antony and
Cleopatra… Marlowe’s imagery here is very like Shakespeare’s.
Steane, J.B. 1964.
Marlowe: A Critical Study. London: Cambridge University Press.
(Reprinted 1970). p.59
Shakespeare, too, must have seen
Tamburlaine at the Rose… perhaps his reaction to Tamburlaine was the
rewriting of part of a new history of Henry VI. His opening lines
were certainly inspired by that play, and a finer tribute to Marlowe
than anything written by the University Wits.
1961. The Life of Shakespeare. London: Gerald Duckworth & Co. Ltd
(reprinted with revisions 1964). p.61
What we may anyhow believe is that in
 there perished at Deptford the only man of Shakespeare’s age
who could have been a rival poet.
1951. Marlowe and the Early Shakespeare. The Clark Lectures Trinity
College, Cambridge. Oxford: Clarendon Press. p.131
Even without the contrast of Marlowe’s
influence on his followers, including Shakespeare—especially
Shakespeare—the impact of other writers on him is negligible,
without trace.… That they met, that they afterwards collaborated, is
certain; the work that bears Shakespeare’s name, and which is, in
part, Marlowe’s, testifies to this. . . . This is the play [Edward
II] that shows how Marlowe, if he had lived, would have matured;
this is the book with which Shakespeare went to school. Only 5 years
had elapsed since Tamburlaine, but there is here a development as
impressive as Shakespeare’s was to be—perhaps it was more
impressive… Much that Shakespeare was to do is found in Edward II in
epitome, and all of it is shadowed forth in verse not even he
Charles. 1946 Christopher Marlowe: The Muse’s Darling. Indianapolis:
Bobbs Merril (1971 reprinting). p.171-2
Shakespeare quotes Marlowe or alludes to
his plays repeatedly … practically the whole of Marlowe’s work as it
is now known… The abundance of Shakespeare’s quotations, echoes, and
allusions [of Marlowe] is especially important because he lets his
other literary contemporaries severely alone.
John. 1942. The Tragical History of Christopher Marlowe. Vol II.
Hamden, CT: Archon Books. p. 208,213
Shakespeare already admired Marlowe to the
point of close imitation; now he ventured on rivalry. He too would
write a poem in the same style [as Marlowe’s Hero and Leander],
claim a place amongst the poets, and perhaps win the poet’s reward
in the patronage of some great Lord. He found his theme in the
embroidery of Hero’s garments.
B. 1933. Shakespeare at Work: 1592-1603. Ann Arbor: The University
of Michigan Press (1958 reprinting). p.39
For in Edward II [Marlowe] shows the
dramatic taste of Hamlet, using all gently, suiting the action to
the word, the word to the action, with special observance that his
actors o’erstep not the modesty of nature.
Tucker. 1930. The Life of Marlowe and The Tragedy of Dido Queen of
Carthage. London: Methuen & Co. Ltd. p.48-9
The father of English tragedy and the
creator of English blank verse was therefore also the teacher and
the guide of Shakespeare.
Charles. 1919. Contemporaries of Shakespeare. London: William
He first, and he alone, guided Shakespeare
into the right way of work… Before him there was neither genuine
blank verse, nor genuine tragedy in our language. After his arrival,
the way was prepared; the paths were made straight, for Shakespeare.
Charles Swinburne. 1908. The Age of Shakespeare. p.40
Beyond all cavil or dispute, Marlowe's
handiwork is as clearly discernable in Henry the Sixth, as is
Shakespeare's; and this drama, or trilogy of dramas, should bear
their names jointly on the title-page.
Henry. 1904. Christopher Marlowe and his associates. London: G.
[Richard III] shows the influence of
Marlowe to a greater degree than any play of
Shakespeare’s shows any single influence, and displays to us the
young dramatist advanced a further step in seeking to rival his most
successful competitor with his own weapons in his on field.
Felix E. 1902. The English Chronicle Play: A Study in the Popular
Historical Literature Environing Shakespeare. New York, N.Y.: Burt
Throughout Shakespeare’s ‘Richard III’ the
effort to emulate Marlowe is undeniable.
1898. A Life of William Shakespeare. Hertfordshire: Oracle
Publishing Ltd (1996 reprinting). p.63
But of all those illustrious dead, the
greatest is Christopher Marlowe. He was the first, the only, herald
From the ‘Saturday Review’ (19 September 1891). [The unveiling of
the Memorial to Christopher Marlowe by Mr. Henry Irving] in Maclure,
Millar, ed. 1979. Marlowe: The Critical Heritage 1588-1896. London:
Routledge & Kegan Paul. p.185
was [Marlowe] who irrevocably decided the destinies of the romantic
drama; and the whole subsequent evolution of that species, including
Shakespeare's work, can be regarded as the expansion, rectification
and artistic ennoblement of the type fixed by Marlowe's epoch-making
Symonds, J. A. 1887. In Christopher Marlowe, ed. Havelock Ellis.
London: Vizetelly & Co. p. xiii
Blank verse, as we understand it, as Shakespeare understood it, came
into birth at the bidding of Christopher Marlowe.
Verity, A. W. 1886. The Influence of Christopher Marlowe on
Shakespeare’s Earlier Style. Folcroft PA: The Folcroft Press. p.85
[Edward III] is indeed so good that we are forced to think of
Shakspere and of Marlowe, of Shakspere in his period of lyrism, or
of Shakspere following the track of Marlowe.
Symonds, John Addington. 1884. Shakspere’s Predecessors in the
English Drama. London: Smith, Elder & Co. p.379
it is only Shakespeare who can do everything; and Shakespeare did
not die at twenty-nine. That Marlowe must have stood nearer to him
than any other dramatic poet of that time, or perhaps of any later
time, is probably the verdict of nearly all students of the drama.
Bradley, A.C. 1880. From Christopher Marlowe, in ‘The English Poets,
Selections’, ed. T.H. Ward (1880), I, 411-17 p.31
This only [Richard III] of all Shakespeare’s plays belongs
absolutely in the school of Marlowe. The influence of the elder
master, and that influence alone, is perceptible from end to end.
Swinburne, Algernon Charles. 1880. A Study of Shakespeare. London:
Chatto and Windus, Piccadilly. p.43
Only the almost superstitious reverance we have for the name of
Shakespeare has kept in comparative oblivion the rival drama [Edward
II] – certainly the masterpiece of history plays at the time of its
Fleay, F.G., ed. 1877. Marlow’s Tragedy of Edward the Second. London
and Glascow: William Collins, Sons, and Co.p.8
Marlowe was the first poet before Shakespeare who possessed any
thing like real dramatic genius, or who seemed to have any distinct
notion of what a drama should be.
Revival of ‘The Jew of Malta’ by Edmund Kean. From an unsigned
review in ‘Blackwood’s Magazine’ (May 1818), iii, 209-10.