chapter  Two
George Chapman
Pages 31

George Chapman's greatest achievement in tragedy is the play with which he began, Bussy D'Ambois. In Bussy D'Ambois Chapman set himself to answer in drama the ancient question of how man, endowed by his creator with reason, strength and knowledge of virtue, can live in a world corrupted by evil. In Chapman' ambivalence towards Byron – an admiration for his heroic stature which persists even while he most strongly condemns him for his behaviour – Schwartz sees a movement towards a new ethical outlook. Critics traditionally have pointed to Chapman's weakness in character portrayal, and they have compared him unfavourably to Shakespeare in this respect. Chapman's 'nature' is the vitiated and corrupt 'nature' of Renaissance pessimism. The Tragedy of Chabot, Admiral of France has been among the most neglected of Chapman's plays. The death of Chabot suggests that the design of the tragedy – which derives not from contemporary events, but from Etienne Pasquier's Les Recherches de la France.