Tamburlaine the Great Themes

Tamburlaine the Great Themes


A theme that appears in Tamburlaine the Great is how masculinity is perceived. Tamburlaine stands as a symbol of masculinity, unaffected by the petty things in life, focused on war, violence and conquering. Tamburlaine’s son, on the other hand, is not an acceptable model regarding masculinity. His uninterested in war and violence makes him a bastard in his father’s eyes who ends up killing him without remorse. The mentality that men have to be violent and stoic remained in literature for a long period of time.

The potential of human beings

Being a play written in the Renaissance period, Tamburlaine represents the human who rises above his status given through birth. The Renaissance put for the first time the man in the center instead of the Gods. Even if the Gods remain important figures in the plays and literature in general written in that period, human are able for the first time to rise above the status that they originally had. As a result, Tamburlaine rises from a mere shepherd to a king ruling over an empire.


Being close to the period when morality plays where the most popular, Tamburlaine the Great manages to incorporate some of the ideas promoted by the morality plays. Even if the allusions are not as clear as in the earlier plays, the fact that Tamburlaine died in the end could be considered typical ending for the morality plays. Tamburlaine is killed because the spirit of the time imposed that evil and greed to be punished. Even if Marlowe raised his character to an almost God-like position, the religious mentality of the time dictated that excessive pride is a sin against God and that such a character can’t remain in a position fit for a God. That is why, at the end of the play, Marlow censures himself by killing Tamburlaine and conforming to the ideas accepted in his time.

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