S-Space College of Humanities (인문대학) Institute of Humanities (인문학연구원) Journal of humanities (인문논총) Journal of Humanities vol.05 (1980) (인문논총)
Omnipotence에의 憧憬-Tamburlaine the Great를 중심으로
The Aspiration of Omnipotence
- Issue Date
- 서울대학교 인문대학
- 인문논총, Vol.5, pp. 167-181
- The characteristics of the Renaissance spirit lie not only in the quest of Greek and
Roman classics but also in the pursuit of man's infinite possibility as a homo universale.
Tamburlaine, a Scythian shepherd who believes himself to be "the Scourge of God",
yearns after omnipotence: infinite knowledge, infinite beauty, and infinite power. Marlowe
exhibits the rising of Tamburlaine from a mere Scythian shepherd to the greatest ruler
in the world. To realize his aspiration of omnipotence, Taniburlaine seeks absolute beauty,
which is incarnated in the person of Zenocrate. She is compared to Helen of Troy, who
is presented as a symbol of classical beauty in Marlowe's works.
'Still climbing after knowledge' seeks a superhuman virtue even in terrestrial power.
Believing in his immortality, he can neither think of his dcath at all nor conceive the
limit of human power. What makes this play a tragedy is that Tamburiaine aspires the
level of superhuman only to find his inevitable limits. He, under the delusion that he can
do everything at his will, cannot understand Zenocrate's dcath and is indignant at the
behaviour of his son, Calyphas, against his will.
In Part I, death is used to emphasize Tamburlaine's ambition and violence; in Part 11,
on the other hand, it makes him understand his limits by way of Zenocrate's death, his
murder of his son, and his own illness.
The theme of Tamburlaine the Great as elsewhere in Marlowe's works may be summarized
as follows: man's desires and aspiration may be limitless, but their fulfilment is
limited by forces beyond the control of human will. However, Marlowe is criticized by
some critics that Tamburlaine, whose ambitions are cruder than those of Faustus, has
little inner conflict. Indeed what Marlowe portrays through Tamburlaine's life history is
a Kenaissance man who wished to be superhuman but found his limits by his inevitable
The theme is developed less satisfactorily in Tamburlaine than in Faustus and minor
characters are not very well presented. Any way, Tamburlaine the Great is one of the
greatest pre-Shakespearean plays which succeeds in depicting man's enormous potentiality,