“Marlowe on Immortality” considers the work of Christopher Marlowe (1564-93) for its ideas of immortality. He employs varying genres to represent differently the intersections which arise between concepts, encounters which often reflect the historical collisions of ideologies. The question for research is “How do Marlowe’s texts function to represent conflicts in the late sixteenth century among and between classical, Christian and gnostic concepts of immortality?” The thesis employs an eclectic approach, including generic analysis and close reading of references in Marlovian texts to immortality. An introductory biographical chapter precedes a focus in Chapter Two upon the influence of Ovid in Marlowe’s works. Under consideration here are his translation Ovid’s Elegies, the play Dido, Queen of Carthage, an epitaph, a dedicatory epistle, and a mythic interlude in Hero and Leander.
Chapter Three is concerned with the stars, as stellar discourse impinges upon ideas of immortality. The first section is on the classical process of stellification in Marlowe’s work. The second is on the Tamburlaine plays; their focus shifting from stellification motifs arising within a classical cosmology, to discussions of stellar influence. The third concerns the astrology and astronomy in Doctor Faustus. An Appendix is attached which provides background to sixteenth-century understandings of cosmology. It is suggested that Marlowe does not employ Copernican thinking, but foregrounds an Aristotelian perspective against a Neoplatonist conception of the Heavenly spheres.