The Marlowe Society

Marlowe's Works

Marlowe's Works
Massacre Woodcut

The Massacre at Paris

The Massacre at Paris

History:

History:

Interpretation:

Interpretation:

Plot:

Plot:

References:

References:
  • Guise:
  • Thou trothless and unjust, what lines are these?
  • Am I grown old, or is thy lust grown young,
  • Or hath my love been so obscur'd in thee,
  • That others need to comment on my text?
  • Is all my love forgot which held thee dear?
  • Ay, dearer then the apple of mine eye?
  • Is Guise's glory but a cloudy mist,
  • In sight and judgement of thy lustful eye?
  • Mort dieu, were not the fruit within thy womb,
  • On whose increase I set some longing hope:
  • This wrathful hand should strike thee to the heart!
  • Hence strumpet, hide thy head for shame,
  • And fly my presence if thou look'st to live.
  • The Massacre at Paris, Scene XV.23-35

The Massacre at Paris

The Massacre at Paris

Scene XV

Guise Discovers His Wife's Infidelity

Location: The Duchess of Guise's Chamber

The play moves suddenly from the political arena to more domestic matters. The Duchess of Guise is writing to her lover, Mugeroun,1 when her husband bursts in and discovers her infidelity. Guise dismisses his wife angrily, and vows revenge against her lover, one of Henry's mignons - a threat that therefore begins to earn the King's enmity.

The Duchess sends her maid off for pen and paper so that she can write to her "dearest Lord. / Sweet Mugeroun, 'tis he that hath my heart" (XV.2-3). But as she writes, her husband enters and asks who she is writing to. She cunningly implies she is writing to a female ("one, my Lord, as when she reads my lines / Will laugh, I fear me" - XV.15-16). But Guise, perhaps already suspicious, persists and then snatches the letter to read her "secrets that no man must know" (XV.21).

The Guise embarks on an increasingly angry soliloquy. "Am I grown old, or is thy lust grown young," he asks, before alluding to himself as a text that is substandard, such that his wife requires another to address its deficiencies. He works himself into a lather of injured pride, before violently demanding she leave: "Hence, strumpet, hide thy head for shame / And fly my presence if thou look'st to live!" (XV.33-34). After the Duchess has fled, Guise vows revenge on Mugeroun: "But villain he to whom these lines should go / Shall buy her love even with his dearest blood" (XV.39-40).

  • Note 1: In reality, it was Marquis de Saint Mégrin that the Duchess of Guise (Catherine of Cleves, 1548-1633) had an affair with, and who was allegedly murdered by the Guise's brothers in 1581. Maugiron (Marlowe's Mugeroun) died in the "Duel of the Mignons" in April 1578 (see a historical summary of Henry III's mignons). Back to Text
 
Tweets by @Marlowe_Society