Marlowe's Use Of Blank Verse Essay

546 WordsMar 11, 20123 Pages
EXAMINE MARLOWE’S USE OF BLANK VERSE IN DR FAUSTUS It is accepted that Marlowe was the real creator of the most famous, the noblest, and the most versatile of English measures, the unrhymed decasyllabic line known as blank verse. Experiments have been made in this metre twenty and more years before Marlowe, notably by Sackville and Norton in “Gorboduc” and by Surrey in his translation of the” Aeneid”. The results which they produced were of an intolerable tedious monotony. And they failed because they were working on the wrong principle. They were trying, very rightly, to produce an English equivalent to that metre which because of its nearness to, and yet sufficient difference from, the rhythms of ordinary speech, has been accepted by the Athenian dramatists as the suitable metre for their purpose – this being the iambic tri-meter, a twelve syllable line. The experiments were perceptive enough to see that in the more slowly moving English language five feet would be preferable to the six feet of the Greek. But the general effect of what they produced was tiresomely repetitive. Marlowe affected a revolution, with the result that blank verse became the great measure which it is. Marlowe’s revolution concerned not end-stopping as is sometimes supposed, but the internal structure of the single line. Marlowe had an ear acute enough to perceive that though the base, the “norm”, of English blank verse was to be the five stress of iambic line, and though the hearer’s awareness of that norm must not be lost, yet few lines should strictly be conformed to the norm, and that five was, so far from being the desirable, almost the forbidden number. The effective stresses should often be fewer than five; the line should fall naturally into four or three or sometimes even only into two group sounds; and the substitution of other feet for the iamb should be freely admitted. By the

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