The Complete Plays, Paperback Book
5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


Marlowe's seven plays dramatise the fatal lure of potent forces, whether religious, occult or erotic. In the victories of Tamburlaine, Faustus's encounters with the demonic, the irreverence of Barabas in THE JEW OF MALTA, and the humiliation of Edward II in his fall from power and influence, Marlowe explores the shifting balance between power and helplessness, the sacred and its desecration.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 752 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Plays, playscripts
  • ISBN: 9780140436334

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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

Tamburlaine and Dr. Faustus are unquestionably great; Jew of Malta, though not PC, is fascinatingly grotesque. The rest, to me, are adequate

Review by

Marlowe was born the same year as Shakespeare, but died young, before he'd reached the age of thirty. So an edition of Marlowe complete plays only contains seven works, while the Shakespeare canon numbers 38 plays. When Marlowe was murdered on May 30, 1593, Shakespeare was thought to have written only about 8 plays, and none of them, with the possible exception of <i>Richard III</i>, would be considered among his best. Still ahead would be all the familiar titles: <i>Romeo and Juliet</i>, <i>A Midsummer Night's Dream</i>, <i>Much Ado About Nothing</i>, <i>Julius Caesar</i>, <i>Henry V</i>, <i>As You Like It</i>, <i>Hamlet</i>, <i>Othello</i>, <i>King Lear</i>, <i>Macbeth</i>. Most believe Marlowe the lesser playwright--but if you compare the works by Marlowe, <i>Dido</i>, <i>Tamburlane the Great</i>, <i>Dr Faustus</i>, <i>The Jew of Malta</i>, <i>Edward II</i>, <i>The Massacre at Paris</i>, to early Shakespeare such as <i>Two Gentleman of Verona</i>, the <i>Henry VI</i> plays, <i>The Taming of the Shrew</i> and <i>Titus Andronicus</i> and even <i>Richard III</i>--his output over the same period--I'd say Marlowe wins handily. And I say that as an ardent fan of Shakespeare, not one of those who counts him overrated. Besides <i>Faustus</i> Marlowe's two <i>Tamburlaine</i> plays definitely made an indelible impression. There are plenty of quotes I could pull with all the resonance of Shakespeare--which in fact many might mistake as from Shakespeare. Note these quotes from <i>Faustus</i>:<i>When all the world dissolves,And every creature shall be purified,All places shall be hell that are not heaven.Was this the face that launch’d a thousand ships,And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss!Her lips suck forth my soul: see, where it flies!O, thou art fairer than the evening airClad in the beauty of a thousand stars.</i>Shakespeare has another unfair advantage with me over his rival--all the fine film adaptations and live productions I've seen. Even of the early Shakespeare plays listed above, <i>The Taming of the Shrew</i>, <i>Titus Andronicus</i> and <i>Richard III</i> all have fine film adaptations I could recommend, with Richard Burton, Anthony Hopkins and Lawrence Olivier respectively. Marlowe I've only experienced on the page, and the words of a play are only scaffolding--there is no substitute for a performance, live or film. There is a 1969 film with Richard Burton of <i>Dr Faustus</i>, Marlowe's most celebrated and famous play, but I haven't seen it. So I can only judge by what is on the page. But even by that yardstick, one can see why many name Marlowe as Shakespeare's chief rival among his contemporaries. Such a pity he didn't live to create more plays of such stature.