Tamburlaine the Great: Triumph of the will
English, Joseph Patrick Anthony
Master of Arts
The Renaissance interest in ontology expresses itself through its astrological, mythological, and cosmological views of the world. This concern for understanding the precise nature and function of the individual is thus particularly important in the drama of the era, which frequently focused on the problem of the individual -- the problem of examining and understanding his precise nature as well as his precise role in the ordered world of the Renaissance. This thesis examines the ontological concerns of the Renaissance in general and of Tamburlaine the Great in particular in an attempt to demonstrate how radically at odds are the worlds, values, and premises of Part I and Part II. Chapter One examines the Renaissance concern for ontology as it is expressed in astrology and mythology. The Renaissance emphasis on self-knowledge and on the proper balance of will and understanding is also examined as another manifestation of its ontological concern. Ovid's concept of metamorphosis is similarly discussed. Chapter Two studies the intellectual environment of Christopher Marlowe. By training and temperament Marlowe was interested in the individual and in the potentialities and limitations of manes being. His dramatic works are filled with mythological allusions and astrological references which reflect his ontological awareness. Chapter Three examines Tamburlaine's ontological motivation in Part 1. Its premises are that Tamburlaine is an earthly god who apotheosizes himself by means of the steadfastness of his will. His thirst for sovereignty and his obsession for conquest and power are discussed as emanations of his ontological desire to attain complete freedom. Chapter Four compares the premises of Part II with those of Part I to demonstrate the thematic differences between the two plays. In Part II Tamburlaine is not a god but rather an agent of the Deity. It is significant, however, in light of the ontological concerns of Part I that Tamburlaine's death in Part II is not a retributive punishment for his sins but rather an ontological manifestation of his humanity.