Hero and Leander by Christopher Marlowe

ImageChristopher Marlowe was another candidate who was thought to be a candidate for the real Shakespeare. William Shakespeare and Marlowe were born in the same year in England, so they were both writing in the same period. Like Shakespeare, Marlowe was also a playwright and a poet, but was additionally a spy, and an unspoken atheist. He was unfortunately stabbed to death ten days after a warrant for his arrest was issued. No reason was given for the warrant of arrest, however it is speculated that it had to do with his secret dealings within the government. It is unclear whether his murder was connected with his arrest warrant. Due to the murky details of Marlowe’s death, there is a theory that Shakespeare doubter’s employ, asserting that Marlowe faked his own death and continued writing under the name of William Shakespeare.

Personally, I find the argument of Marlowe as Shakespeare very unconvincing. For a start, Marlowe writes in an entirely different style. Hero and Leander is very overtly sexual, while Shakespeare’s plays sexual allusions are very vague. There is also explicit homosexuality on the part of Neptune, who fancies Leander and ends up drowning him in his embrace. Shakespeare, though there are some arguable homosexual moments, they are all very tactfully included. Not everyone is convinced Shakespeare was a homosexual, while it is common knowledge that Marlowe was.

Though I certainly don’t deny that Marlowe is not a talented poet, in fact I may even like his style more than I like Shakespeare’s, (call me a heretic) there simply is no evidence to support the Marlowe is Shakespeare theory.

Hero and Leander tells a story about adolescent sexual discovery. Though Leander has the rhetorical skills to talk Hero into bed, he has no sexual maturity. Hero, though she is somewhat paradoxically a nun to Venus, the goddess of love, forsakes her virginity for her love for Leander. Though the story is tragic, the story is much more recognizable than a similar themed play, Romeo and Juliet. There is something convincing in the confused lovers’ naiveté that is endearing to the reader.


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