Women in the Plays of Christopher Marlowe

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Criticism of the drama of the Renaissance has yielded an abundance of Marlovian scholarship, great and varied in scope. Particularly, there has been an immense interest in Marlowe's creation of the superhuman hero--the Tamburlaine or the Faustus who so completely dominates the stage that all other characters are assumed to be mere figureheads, symbols, abstractions, or embodiments. It is partly because of this interest in the overpowering hero that Marlowe's women have been neglected by many critics. Allardyce Nicoll makes a particularly sweeping statement when he claims that the absence of the "feminine element ... mars the dramas of Marlowe" and that "the consistent elimination of women" in his works "proves in him a lack of sympathy with the whole of life. I would maintain that the "feminine element" is not absent in Marlowe, but rather too often slighted by critics.