Kylie Lemon

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair

Jeffrey N. Nelson

Committee Member

Eric D. Smith

Committee Member

Chad A. Thomas


Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593)--Hero and Leander--Criticism and interpretation, Irony, Narration (Rhetoric)


In his minor-epic poem Hero and Leander, Christopher Marlowe creates a narrator whose distinctive narrative presence and unique personality make him impossible for the reader to ignore. Existing scholarship often dismisses this narrator as an unintelligent and inept storyteller who is used by Marlowe to achieve a comedic effect; however, this study argues for a reevaluation of Marlowe's narrator as one who uses a sophisticated form of irony to achieve an alternative purpose. A close-reading of this narrator-character in light of Wayne Booth's and Linda Hutcheon's discussions of irony reveals a narrator whose use of seemingly contradictory statements, less-than-flattering descriptions of Hero and Leander, and ironic interjections enable him to alert his readers to a flaw in the relationship between the poem's title characters. In this way, Marlowe not only establishes a unique narrative voice, but he also uses his narrator as a vehicle to challenge the traditional reading of a popular mythological story.



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