Christopher Marlowe's Poems

Queerness as Otherness College

The gods as depicted in Christopher Marlowe’s Hero and Leander are beings that exist outside of the realm of morality, living near humans but bound by separate rules and ideas. This is especially true in relation to sexuality, and the senses of morality that humans cloak such in. In Marlowe’s poem, Neptune is the only character who attempts to actively participate in homosexuality, and though Leander resists his advances, he does so without condemnation. As discussed in Andrew Bennett and Christopher Royle’s chapter on queer theory, the term “queer” evolved from senses of morality, senses that are not applicable to or by the gods in the poem. By discussing how the term queer has evolved throughout time and relating it to Neptune’s advances toward Leander, Marlowe’s Hero and Leander is not queer because it exists in a context where queerness as homosexuality does not equate to something marginal and abnormal.

As Bennett and Royle outline, “queer” is a word rooted in divisiveness, rooted in creating and maintaining a sense of otherness. They write that the definition of the word queer is one which “includes three apparently unrelated senses for the ‘same’ word – clustering around ideas of strangeness, sickness, and homosexuality”...

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