Tamburlaine’s Powers of Rhetoric
As the fact of being written in Elizabethan England, although sometimes Tamburlaine’s speeches may seem to be overwrought, they were excellent examples of rhetoric at that time. Marlowe broke the traditional rules of classical rhetoric and made language a powerful tool for Tamburlaine to persuade both the other roles in the play and the audience of the play. Having taken personal control of the Persian Empire, Tamburlaine turns his attention to Bajazeth, emperor of the Turks (3.3.6). The dialogue between them about their wife reflects their own male power and Tamburlaine’s powers of rhetoric.
Throughout the passage, specific literary devises are used to convey meaning and create Tamburlaine’s powers of rhetoric. One of the most vital literary devises is comparatio, which is a general term for a comparison, either as a figure of speech or as an argument. On the one hand, Bajazth’s words is a contrast to Tamburlaine’s. By saying Zabina is the “mother of three braver boies than Hercules” (3.3.103), Bajazeth infers that his “royal chaire of state” (3.3.112) is unchangeable as his sons will grow up to be capable and strong enough to fight for the nation. The point of his words is about male power and nation rather than pure love for his wife. On the contrary, Tamburlaine employs metaphor and allegory to express his intense passion for Zenocrate. “The loveliest Maide alive” (3.3.117) shows his respect to her. As comparing her with “rockes of pearle and pretious stone” (3.3.118), Tamburlaine hints his motivation for conquering other countries is Zenocrate. In his opinion, the queen crown of the Persian Empire cannot deserve her beauty. “Sit downe by her: adorned with my Crowne, as if thou wert the Empresse of the world” (3.3.125), therefore, he must conquer more countries for her. On the other hand, Zabina’s words is a contrast to Zenocrate. Different from Zabina, whose words make audience feel that she is inferior to Bajazeth as an accessory, Zenocrate’s words suggest that she is the true lover of Tamburlaine. She is concerned with his safety and hopes him “returne with victorie, and free from wound” (3.3.133). From this point of view, Tamburlaine’s powers of rhetoric help him win over Zenocrate’s heart.
What’s more, Tamburlaine's powers of rhetoric are the result of his ambition. With his ambition and his intense passion for his wife, he can be both captivating and repellant. The key to his character is power and ambition, of...