"You Talks Brave and Bold": The Origins of an Elizabethan Stage Device


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

The first great wave of heroic drama in England surely began with Marlowe's Tamburlaine and crested with Shakespeare's Henry V. In a 1964 article, Robert Y. Turner argued that in Tamburlaine, Marlowe invented the "public confrontation scene" to depict political conflicts more dramatically than ever before.1 Marlowe's imitators, such as Greene in Alphonsus, King of Aragon and Selimus, Lodge in The Wounds of Civil War, and Peele in David and Bethsabe, adapted Marlowe's dramaturgical innovation for their own purposes. Not surprisingly Shakespeare, as Turner demonstrates, uniquely expanded the device that he inherited from Marlowe

because he added moral significance to the pattern of challenge

and counterchallenge. Marlowe's understanding of public events,

at least in the Tamburlaine plays, as struggles for power restricted

the verbal clashes and the brutal triumphs afterwards

to morally neutral remarks. Shakespeare's characters talk more

about political proprieties than strength.2

Comparative Drama is carried by JSTOR and Project MUSE.