Christopher Marlowe’s and Edward II Outline Response Requirements:
Length: 7 pages
Format: Double-spaced, in-text citation (e.g., author plus page, line, or stanza indication).
Materials needed: Christopher Marlowe’s play “Edward II”. Other class materials are attached.
Please remember: NO PLAGIARISM!!
As we have seen, reading the queer element in pre-modern literatures and cultures calls for a wide range of reading strategies.Let’s review some of the basic premises. (As with the midterm essay prompt, these preliminary comments may help you narrow and shape your topic.)
The use of the word queer as a marker of non-heteronormative identity is a modern development, just as the concept of sexuality as a marker of personal, subjective identity is a modern development.
As Foucault suggests, this development has a long history, and the history is not straightforward.Same-sex desires and preferences are obviously not absent from the pre-modern era, but they are situated in culture differently from modern norms of thought, feeling, and behavior.
Culture means, among other things, being situated in a variety of ambient forms of meaning (narratives, patterns, habits of memory and expectation, and images that serve as placeholders for these patterns and habits).Experience and identity are made of these elements.
Some brief examples of how the above propositions come together in texts we’ve examined so far:
The biblical canon shows how the form of community called “covenant” leads to crises (e.g., forced choices) that carry implicit critiques of prevailing norms.
The discursive form of Plato’s work – dialog and dialectical argument – shows a broad spectrum of myths (narratives, guiding scripts) that enable persons to imagine how their desires, expectations, and aspirations may fit into their community’s habits of life.Importantly, the dialog form, as we see it unfolding in The Symposium, shows a mix of historically real, conjectural, and imaginary forms of life: some correspond to what seems to have been the norm in classical Athenian society; some capture patterns of behavior that were practiced but were not typical; and some reflect imaginary forms that extend the virtual boundaries of the culture’s “rules of the game.”
Alain de Lille’s Complaint of Nature presents a provocative, and influential, rationale for understanding how sexual practices and erotic desires correspond to – and challenge – rules of grammar (of all things!).If we remember that Alain’s text is an allegory, we can see how the gist of his argument remains pertinent.How so?The Complaint challenges us to take notice of the ways in which ideas about gender, desire, and the domains of eros and sex participate in a cultural grammar, a grammar that evolves and mutates.Literary texts both reflect and contribute to this transformation.
Richard Barnfield’s poetic experiments (of which we have read a small sample) show how two inherited poetic forms – the Virgilian pastoral eclogue and the Petrarchan sonnet – may be combined to create a virtual world (part real, part imagined) where the representation of homoerotic desire and behavior is “naturalized,” even though it is not fully reflective of prevailing contemporary social norms in Barnfield’s (16th-century) world.
With these observations in mind, write an essay that shows how the array of discursive forms at work in the option you select present a “queer” angle of vision on the represented world(s).Bear in mind that the queer elements are not reflective mirrors of 20th- and 21st-century practices and debates over sexuality. The queer elements are a combination of the seemingly familiar and the strange.They include modifications of gender roles, socio-political conflicts, sexual transgressions or experiments, and erotic fantasies – all of which may be examined for the particular challenge they pose to the dominant or “taken for granted” forms of social, domestic, religious, or political life.Remember that the concept of “form” is very broad.It includes notions of genre, imagery, allusions, patterns of dialogue, and strategies of narrative development.You don’t have to confine yourself to a single or narrowly conceived type of form.You may even discover a novel type of form through your interpretation of the text(s) you choose.
Marlowe’s Edward II: How does Marlowe’s play show critical understanding of the force of the kind of argument that Alain de Lille makes in the Complaint of Nature? Remember that the queer element of the play does not present the lethal Mortimer / Edward relation in a vacuum: the tension between Edward and his court is part of a cultural grammar.For this option, remember also to choose only the scenes or passages that help you build a coherent picture of the issues you want to isolate.There is no need to paraphrase the entire plot. Medieval Sourcebook:
Alain of Lille [Alanus de lnsulis]: The Complaint of Nature. [ d. 1202.]
Alain of Lille [Alanus de lnsulis], d. 1202., The complaint of nature, Yale studies in English, v.
36 (1908), Translation of De planctu natura. by Douglas M. Moffat. Pagination preserved in
The connection of the De Planctu Naturae with Chaucer’s Parlement of Foules and with the
Roman de la Rose, the increasing frequency of references to it in works of scholarship, and its
inaccessibility save in its peculiar Latin, have furnished the reasons for this translation. The
importance of Alain’s work lies wholly in what it prompted; by itself it would have long since
been justly forgotten. The theologian whose great stores of recondite learning made him the
`Doctor Universalis’ of his day, the ‘Alain who was very sage,’ the ‘Doctor SS. Theologiae
Famosus,’ is now known chiefly because of two lines in the blithe and famous poet of early
England. He is distinctly of that number to whom the interests of scholarship alone give any
present life. Still, in the eye of scholarship his importance is not inconsiderable. Not only the
great interest attending everything which has to do with Chaucer, with the sources from which he
drew, and with the very hints which he throws out so lightly, but also the extensive influence
which the De Planctu Naturae exerted on Jean de Meun’s part of the Roman de la Rose, give him
a position which all investigators in these fields of literature must recognize. The statement of
Langlois that more than five thousand verses of the Roman de la Rose are translated, imitated, or
inspired by the De Planctu Natura is excellent authority that this mysterious scholar of the
Middle Ages, whose very identity is unascertained, was of those who beget kings in literature,
though he himself were none.
It is difficult to render the Latin of Alain into a translation which shall be at once accurate and
yet not too much at variance with the fundamental standards of good English literature. Truly, as
was said by Robert Holkoth long ago, the De Planctu Naturae is ‘metro et prosa compositum
scientifice multum et curiose.’ Those repetitions, those fantastic circumlocutions, those
wonderful wild flowers of metaphor which grow up constantly around him, leave on the
translator’s hands a multitude of words, fluttering over an embarrassing paucity of ideas, for
which English synonyms and approved figures of English speech are manifestly few or lacking.
The present translator hopes that he is not chargeable too heavily with the weaknesses of a
compromise. It has not been thought advisable to render into anything but prose those portions of
the original which are in verse.
I have been unable to find any thoroughly good text of the De Planctu Naturce. The one which I
have used as a basis is that of Thomas Wright, found in Satirical Poets of the Twelfth Century,
Vol. 2 (Rolls Series, London, 1872) ; but several of the variants which he notes, and several from
the text of Migne in the Patrologia Latina, Vol. 210 (Paris, 1855), which Wright does not note,
have been adopted, and a few emendations have been made. To all such changes attention is
called in the foot-notes.
I owe many thanks to Professor Charles U. Clark, of Yale University, and to Dr. Richard M.
Gummere, of Haverford College, for their careful revision of large portions of the translation. To
Professor Albert S. Cook, of Yale University, at whose suggestion the work was undertaken, I
have been greatly indebted for help and guidance at every stage.
D. M. M.
May 2, 1908
THE BOOK OF ALAIN ON THE COMPLAINT OF NATURE.
In lacrimas risus, in luctus gaudia verto.
I change laughter to tears, joy to sorrow, applause to lament, mirth to grief, when I behold the
decrees of Nature  in abeyance; when society is ruined and destroyed by the monster of
sensual love; when Venus, fighting against Venus, makes men women; when with s her magic
art she unmans men. It is not pretense that travails with sorrow, O adulterer! nor the tears of
pretense, nor dissimulation; rather is it grief, and birth itself is given to sorrow. The Muse
requests, this very grief commands, Nature implores that, as, I weep, I give them a mournful
song. Alas! Whither  has the loveliness of Nature, the beauty of character, the standard of
chastity, the love of virtue departed?  Nature weeps, character passes away, chastity is wholly
banished from its former high station, and become an orphan. The sex of active nature trembles
shamefully at the way in which it declines into passive nature. Man is made woman, he blackens
the honor of his sex, the craft of magic Venus makes him of double gender. He is both predicate
and subject, he becomes likewise of two declensions, he pushes the laws of grammar too far. He,
though made by Nature’s skill, barbarously denies that he is a man. Art does not please him, but
rather artifice; even that artificiality cannot be called metaphor; rather it sinks
1 Reading Naturam, with Migne.
2 Reading quo, with Migne.
3 Reading secessit, with Migne.
into viciousness. He is too fond of logic, with whom a simple conversion causes the rights of
Nature to perish. He strikes on an anvil which emits no sparks. The very hammer deforms its
own anvil. The spirit of the womb imprints no seal on matter, but rather the plowshare plows
along  a sterile beach. Thus the iambic measure goes badly with the dactylic foot of earthly
love, in which always the long syllable does not permit a short. Though all the beauty of man
humbles itself before the fairness of woman, being always inferior to her glory; though the face
of the daughter of Tyndaris is brought into being and the comeliness of Adonis and Narcissus,
conquered, adores her; for all this she is scorned, although she speaks as beauty itself, though her
godlike grace affirms her to be a goddess, though for her the thunderbolt would fail in the hand
of Jove, and every sinew of Apollo would pause and lie inactive, though for her the free man
would become a slave, and Hippolytus, to enjoy her love, would sell his very chastity. Why do
so many kisses lie untouched on maiden lips, and no one wish to gain a profit from them? These
once pressed on me would sweeten my lips with flavor, and, honeyed, would offer a honeycomb
to the mouth; the spirit would go out in kisses, all given over to the mouth, and play on lips with
itself. So that until I should in this way die, my course finished, I, as another self, would in these
kisses enjoy a happy life to the utmost. Not only does the adulterous Phrygian pursue the
daughter of Tyndaris, but Paris with Paris devises unspeakable and monstrous acts. Not only
does Pyramus seek the kisses of Thisbe through the chink, but no small opening of Venus
pleases him. Not only does the son of Peleus counterfeit the bearing
1. Reading tin, with Migne.
2 Reading formetur, with Migne.
of a maiden, that so to maidens he may prove himself dear, but he wickedly gives away the gift
of Nature for a gift, in selling for the love of money his sex. Such deserve anathema in the
temple of Genius, for they deny the tithes of Genius and their own duties.
Cum haec elegiaca lamentabili ejulatione crebrius recenserem.
While I with sorrowful lament was repeating these elegies over and over again, a woman glided
down from the inner palace of the impassable heavens, and appeared, hastening her approach to
me. Her hair, which shone not with borrowed light but with its own, and which displayed the
likeness of rays, not by semblance, but by native clearness surpassing nature, showed on a starry
body the head of a virgin. Twin tresses flowing loosely,  neither forsook the parts above nor
yet disdained to smile upon the ground with a kiss. The line of a slender necklace , crossing itself
obliquely, divided the strife of her hair; nor was this ever  a blemish in her appearance, but
rather commanded its beauty . And a golden comb smoothed into the dance of due orderliness
the gold of her hair .5 and wondered to have found a countenance agreeing, for the gold of fancy
imposed upon the vision the false conclusion of harmonious color. But in truth her forehead,
wide and full and even, was of the milkwhite lily in color, and seemed to vie with the lily. Her
eyebrows, starry in golden brightness, had neither
1 Reading quem, with B.
2 Reading umquam, with Migne.
3 Reading vultui erat detriments, sed praerat decori with Migne.
grown unduly into a forest of hairs, nor fallen into unmeet scantiness, but between both held a
mean. The clear calm of the eyes, which attracted with friendly light, offered the freshness of
twin stars. Her nose, fragrant with lovely odor, and neither out of measure low nor unduly
prominent, had a certain distinction. The nard of her breath gave the nose banquets of delicate
perfume. Her lips, gently .rounded, invited the tyros of Venus to kisses. Her teeth, by some
harmony of color, had the appearance of ivory. The glowing fire of her cheeks, kindled with the
light of roses, with soft flame cheered her face; and this in turn chastened the pleasing warmth
with cool whiteness-like rose-color on fine linen.Her smooth chin, fairer than crystalline light,
wore a silvery brightness. Her neck, while not unduly long, was molded gracefully, and did not
allow the nape to be close to the shoulders. The apples of her breasts promised the ripeness of
glorious youth. Her arms, beautifully formed for the delight of the beholder, seemed to ask for
embraces. The finely drawn curve of her waist, which had the mark of due moderation, brought
her whole presence to the height of perfection. And faith spoke other parts, which a more secret
habitation held aside, to be even better. For in her body lay unapparent a more beautiful form, of
whose joys the countenance offered a foretaste: yet, as this very form made known, the key of
Dione had never opened the lock of its chastity. And although the joy of her loveliness was so
great, yet she tried to blot out the smile of her beauty with precious tears. For a stealthy dew,
sprung from the welling of her eyes, proclaimed the flow of inwards grief, and her very face, cast
to earth with chaste modesty, told of some injury done to the virgin herself. The sparkling crown
of a regal diadem, shining with dances of gems, brightened high on her head. No base alloy of
gold, derogate from high worth, and deceptive to the eye with false light, supplied its substance
but the pure nobility of gold itself. With marvelous revolution and ceaseless turning, this diadem
travelled from east to west, and then by backward motion was continually restored to its rising.
And its incessant performing of this, and its constant journeying to its starting-place, seemed
almost a useless motion. Some of these gems at one time offered to the sight miracles of fresh
day in the new sun of their light ; but at another time by eclipse of their brilliancy seemed
banished from the palace of the same diadem. Others, which were fixed, maintained the vigil of
their sparkling, and were constant watchers. Among these a circle, shining in the likeness of the
zodiacal curve, and glittering with chains of precious stones, cut across the thickly starred space.
And on this a group of twelve gems seemed, from the advance of its numbers and from its
especial splendor, to demand supremacy over the others.
Furthermore, in the front of the diadem three jewels, by the bold pride of their beams, supplanted
and out-‘ shone the other nine. The first stone condemned darkness to exile by its light, and cold
by its fire. On this, as the skillful deceptions of a picture manifested there blazed the form of a
lion. The second, which was yet not inferior to the first in light, flashed in a more prominent
position in this same part of the diadem, and seemed to look down on the other stones almost
with indignation. On this, in a perfect picture of the reality, a crab with varying and conflicting
motion went backward as it went forward, retreated gas it progressed, and seemed to advance
behind its own self The third stone redeemed the scant brightness of a stone set over against it by
the abundant wealth of its own clear light. On this, as a truthful picture asserted, the mythical
children of Leda advanced and welcomed each other with mutual embraces. In like manner, three
stones, whose power was of second degree, had set their thrones in an opposite part. Of these the
first, with little drops of moisture, gave the likeness of tears, and saddened its look with
counterfeit weeping. On this, as the fancy of skilful engraving had drawn and set forth, the
pitcher of the Idean youth gurgled with flowing stream. The second stone kept all resting-places
for –s warmth ouf of its dominion, and with icy numbness claimed winter for its guest. On this a
picture gave, by an illusive likeness of goat’s wool, the hairy pelt of a goat. The third stone,
which had the appearance of crystalline light. prophesied with banner of cold the coming of
winter. On this the old Haemonian with diligent bending of the bow threatened wounds, yet
never made good his threats. Playing upon another beautiful side, three mild and fair gems
delighted the eyes. The first of these, aflame with the glow of rosy color, gave to view a rose;
and in it a bull showed the well-known marks of his head, and was seen thirsting for battle.
Another, of which the lustre was exceptional, blessed the companies of its fellows with grace and
kindliness. On this a ram gloried in the nobility of its head, and demanded the leadership of the
flock. The third, which had a greenish hue, cherished within it an emerald-like balm to freshen
the sight. On this, within a fancied river, fish swam according to their kind, and sported in great
numbers along the shore. On the opposite side, the shining beauty of a group of three stars
sparkled with glad delight. Of these stones the first, beaming with the’ golden sun of its own
splendor, wore the grace of unwearying beauty. On this, as the poetical fancy’ of the cutting
showed, a virgin, by her excelling fairness, like an Astraca rivaled the stars. The second neither
wantoned in excessive splendor nor begged the sparks of a meagre glory, but rejoiced in a
moderate flame. And on this, below the steady tongue of a balance, in a truthful and yet artistic
representation, a pair of scales foretold the trial of weights. The third, the faces of which turned
and alternated, now promised a kindly clearness, now gave itself up to the clouds of obscurity.
On this the figure of a scorpion stood out, and presaged with its face laughter, with the sting of
its tail tears.
Moreover, under the stations of these twelve stones a sevenfold array of gems kept up with a
continual circling, a marvelous sort of play and pleasing dance. Nor did this dance lack the
sweetness of melodious sound. Now it frolicked in little notes, now it quickened into tones rich
and swelling, and now, with stronger trump, advanced into the full burst of harmony, the depth
of which stirred delight in our ears, and brought the first joys of sleep to our eyes. For since it is
that moderate listening keeps away discontent, so excess brings on weariness; and the drowsy
hearing faded, tired with the full and excessive melody. These seven stones, though not held
subject to the diadem itself by any bands of connection, yet never deserted their fellowship of the
upper stones. The highest was a diamond. This, more economical of movement than the others,
but more spendthrift of ease, delayed very long in the completion of its wide orbit. With such
frostiness and great cold did it slowly move that its essential form gave proof that it had been
born under the Saturnian star. The second was an agate, which, from its path being close at hand,
was more easily seen than the others. Its effect was with some to change hate to love, and with
others by its commanding virtue and power to render imperfect charity perfect; for its kindly
operation asserted it to be, by close relationship of nature, of a family with the star of Jove. The
third was an asterite, in which the dominion of heat had taken its station, and where was gathered
the energy of the star Mars and its peculiar quality preserved. This, with threatening countenance
of terrible splendor, warned destruction to others. The fourth was a ruby, having the likeness of
the sun. With its streaming candle this banished the shades of night, and put to sleep the eclipsed
lamps of its fellows. Now in the regal authority of majesty it ordered the others to make way, and
now brought to the disturbance a quiet power. Then with a sapphire came an amethyst, pressing
on the former’s tracks, and tending it almost as a servant, yet never prejudiced by the quality of
the other’s light. Apart from the sapphire a little space, it either ran beside it round its orbit, or
followed, or the one star lagged and granted the other the concession of going first. Of these two
stones, the first by its harmonious quality gave the effect of the Mercurial star; the other, the
effect of th6 Dionean. The last stone was a pearl, which was set in the rim of the flashing crown,
and which shone with another’s light, begging the aid of lustre from the ruby. Within the
presence of the latter’s radiance it either increased in the growth of its beam of light, or reached
its full and shrank, as if it worshiped the ruby; and it petitioned that it should be re-adorned with
the fires of its brother. and wear the beauties of that light renewed. Now it repaired the losses of
its wasted round by fixed and regular succor; now, shorn of its beams, it lamented the loss of its
proper majesty, for this was silvery with crystal splendor, answering to the appearance of the
lunar star. The bright nobility of this diadem by all these glories revealed the likeness of the
A garment, woven from silky wool and covered with many colors, was as the virgin’s robe of
state. Its appearance perpetually changed with many a different color and manifold hue. At first
it startled the sight with the white radiance of the lily Next, as if its simplicity had been thrown
aside and it were striving for something better, it glowed with rosy life. Then, reaching the height
of perfection, it gladdened the sight with the greenness of the emerald. Moreover, spun
exceedingly fine so as to escape the scrutiny of the eye it was so deliacate of substance that you
would think it and the air of the same nature. On it, as a picture fancied to sight, was being held a
parliament of of the living creation. There theeagle, first assuming youth, then age, and finally
returning to the first, changed from Nestor to Adonis. There the hawk, chief of the realm of the
air, demanded tribute from its subjects with i violent tyranny. The kite assumed the character of,
hunter, and in its stealthy preying seemed like the ghost of the hawk. The falcon stirred up civil
war against the heron, though this was not divided with equal balance, for that should not be
thought of by the name of war where you strike, but I only am struck.. The ostrich, disregarding
a worldly life for a lonely, dwelt like a hermit in solitudes of desert places. The swan, herald of
its own death, foretold with its honey sweet lyre of music the stopping of its life. There on the
peacock Nature had rained so great a treasure store of beauty that you would think she afterwards
would have gone begging. The phoenix died in its real self, but, by some miracle of nature,
revived in another, and in its death aroused itself from the dead. The bird of concord  paid
tribute to Nature by decimating its brood. There lived sparrows, shrunk to, low, pygmean atoms;
while the crane opposite went to the excess of gigantic size. The pheasant, after it had endured
the confinement of its natal island, flew into our worlds, destined to become the delight o…
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