Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Problems of the Youth

I believe (at times, anyway) very strongly in the idea of "give the people what they want". In the past few hours, I've had three people wend the Jaylemurph way under the Google Search "hunter brown gay jeopardy", which is comforting. It's not just me who thinks it, then.

Sadly, he will not be going on to the Finals round. And to be fair, he was legitimately beaten in competition, although I do invite humorous "spear carrier" comments. [Alas, he is not technically in my dating pool* since he only measure up to 5'11"...]

Anyway, I feel like I've been unduly beating around the Edward II bush the past few days. God -- how many mixed metaphors is that? Anyway: topic the first -- the central conceit of the work.

It's a version of Marlowe's work as envisioned by a 17 year old. A smart one, and a gay one, obviously, and one of the Kids. Right now, my vision is that he's a fairly regular high school student who projects himself and the people around him at school into the world of the play. He becomes Edward, his crush becomes Gaveston, and so forth. Also currently (and I admit this might change), I'm really into the idea that as the play progresses, it becomes more and more Marlowe's play and less and less the vision of the reader. The idea being that early on, you can have scenes that show Edward and Gaveston meeting and falling for each other, which are completely absent in Marlowe but end up in roughly the same place. I'm not going to be coy about the ending; it will be different. Sort of.

I think that almost the same sequence of events can happen, even with Edward being murdered, but with it not being about giving up dignity and pride. I think, for instance, that Edward can give up his crown without giving up his sense of self, or his sense of desire. (See what I will later say for my idea of the last scene.) But I get ahead of myself.

For me, this immediately brings up two problems. The first one seems to me the lesser of the two. If it's handled intelligently, I can't help but feel, it will ultimately be a positive point rather than a liability. It's age. The age of the characters.

There is something adolescent in the writings of Marlowe. I don't see this as a fault, but it seems hard to me to describe it as anything else. Read his plays: in the cockiness of his heroes (Tamburlaine, Faustus, Edward) is something undeniably so. I have two theories about this.

Theory One, part one: A big part of me thinks that Marlowe never reaches an emotional level of maturity. Maybe because he was never able to. And yes, I'm well-aware of the dangers of reading into the author the passions of his works. But I don't think that someone in his period so strongly identifying with same-sex desire could come to an adult understanding of emotional or sexual maturity -- he never even had the opportunity (or so it seems) to be in a deeply committed, long-term relationship. If that's the case, it does seem unlikely he produce a fictional version of one. What he can -- and does often and well -- is convey the fleeting, conflicting passions of an infatuation: the pursued and the pursuer, the frustrated and the victor.

And to his credit, he doesn't ever really supply the goods of a purely heterosexual relationship. As far as I know (and I'd love to hear a dissenting view) the closest he gets is Hero and Leander -- and the guy Leander is practically raped by Poseidon while swimming.

Theory One, part two: the basic element of his dramaturgy doesn't support this. Marlowe's plays are, in some sense, always about people who get what they want and then suffer. Compare this to Shakespeare's characters, who dither about getting what they want (look at Hamlet). This idea of going after and getting what you want without considering the consequences strikes me as adolescent in a way Shakespeare never is.

*Let us not forget Laura's idea of a Hallowe'en costume: a post note above my head that says you must be "6' 0" to ride this ride".

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