Dr. Faustus is a tragedy because the main character falls as a victim of his own circumstances, and is a victim of himself.
He is a man with all the potential and possibilities to be successful. He is a Renaissance man who is versed in every aspect of science, philosophy, the arts, education, and genius, yet, he utilizes his energy and wit into absolutely nonsense and unnecessary goals, such as his obsession to be a magician, and his ridiculous fixation for power: A power he has no clue what to do with.
To make matters worse, his self absorbence led him to make a pact with the devil to obtain that same power he wanted for no factual reason.
He didn’t even know why he did it, in all reality. In fact, he did it with no solid basis, and he obviously began to regret it. All this for nothing: He dies insane and cursed. No triumph, no merits. Just he, victim of himself. Understanding of Christopher Marlowe’s Elizabethan tragedy, Dr. Faustus, can be framed in terms of the Renaissance philosophy and the Elizabethan tragedy, which takes a different turn on some points from the Aristotelian tragedy, for instance such as the Elizabethan tragedy’s requisite death of the tragic hero.
Dr. Faustus demonstrates the Renaissance philosophy that pits the dichotomy of good, angelic humanity against evil, depraved humanity. Marlowe’s play also is a model of the Elizabethan tragedy. Marlowe constructed the character of Dr. Faustus to represent within himself both characteristics of the Renaissance view of humanity as divinely good and hellishly evil. First, Dr. Faustus is presented as a scholar of all things including divinity, the highest Renaissance scholarly discipline.
Then, Faustus is shown as dissatisfied with the limitations of humanity and grasping for unlimited knowledge, which is a Biblical allusion to Adam and Eve who ate of the Tree of Knowledge. Throughout the play, Faustus descends to lower and lower planes of knowledge in his pursuit for the “power” and “omnipotence” that comes from knowledge. At the beginning, Mephistopheles answers all Faustus’ questions but draws the line on talk of the universe, which can be seen to stand for astronomical and cosmological studies–the very studies that science is deeply involved in today: CERN; Hubble; SoHo; etc).
Faustus must be content with merely mapping the universe instead of understanding it. Marlowe ultimately shows in Dr. Faustus the futility of the quest for ultimate knowledge and the inevitable end result of abandoning moral integrity for omnipotent knowledge. Dr. Faustus also represents a Classic Elizabethan tragedy. First, the tragic hero has a flaw or makes an error in judgment that leads to his own doom. It’s hard to say whether Faustus had a fatal flaw in his character or whether he was doomed by a faulty understanding that lead to a fatally disastrous error in judgment.
All along the way, Faustus has doubts and hesitations which speak for an integrity of his moral character. If he has a fatal flaw, it might be that he did not reckon the power of evil highly enough, that he thought that with omnipotent knowledge, he could free himself from the chains of evil he wrapped so blithely around himself. Adam and Eve also fell to the punishment from the lure of knowledge. Of course, quite often Faustus’ fatal flaw is said to be greed and irreverent disregard for goodness. One clue to forming a literary stance on the question lies in examining his hesitations and second thoughts.
In addition to this, the questions addressed in Marlowe’s play are nobel universal questions pertaining to the highest order of considerations: the meaning of life and death, the quest for knowledge, the respective power of of good and evil. In further accord with elizabethan tragedy, the play Dr. Faustus employs comedic relief through the presence of clowns that also acts as a means of giving information about the characters and the action of the play. The clowns in Dr. Faustus are Rafe and Robin.
In Elizabethan tragedy, the clowns (rural, country simpletons who misuse language accidentally) and fools (urban dwellers who play with language and “misuse” it intentionally for wit) generally replace the Greek Chorus that carried the task of moving the story along with information not performed on stage, but in Dr. Faustus, Marlowe employs both the Greek-style Chorus and Elizabethan clowns. Finally, in keeping with Elizabethan tragic form, Faustus gets himself in so deep, his tragic flaw or error in judgement is so aggregious that it leads ultimately and necessarily to his death, thus fulfilling the fate of an Elizabethan tragic hero.
Since Faustus has overestimated what he can attain from an arrangement with Lucifer and since he underestimated the power of Lucifer’s evil, his ultimate end must be and is death even though he recognizes his mistakes and pleads for pardon. Dr. Faustus is a tragedy related to a man’s unrealized ambitions. In fact the play is nearer to the psychic experience of the modern man. In the fit of achieving the superior status or equivalent to that of God, Dr. Faustus displays the attitude of power hungry people. Sometimes a dissatisfied with divinity can choose an immoral path.
He is tempted by the evil with so much affinity that the voice of his conscious is not able to stop him from wrong deeds. His knowledge and education becomes mean before such huge temptations. When devil is also unable to satisfy his urges then he feels trapped and prays to the God to rescue him. He repents a nd curses wicked Mephistophilis. Even Christ cannot save Faustus , as Lucifer says , as His “justness” precludes those like Faustus who are assertive of their worth. Faustus dies questioning the very validity of human existence. The tragical history of Christopher Marlowe’s Dr.
Faustus, a great man of knowledge. He sought to gain more knowledge by making a pact with the devil. The story of Dr. Faustus’ deception begins with his quest for knowledge. He was the epitome of the “Renaissance Man. ” The Renaissance man was a man who had achieved great knowledge and had come to what Maslow considered “self-actualization. ” Marlowe, in his studies of ambitious men, dealt with the Renaissance “overreacher,” revealing his heroism and strength of will while simultaneously chronicling the loss of humanity occasioned by his unchecked abuse of power. This is the tragedy of Dr. Faustus. Dr.
Faustus, a great man of knowledge, sought to gain more knowledge by making a pact with the devil. He thought that the god of the underworld, a created being, could make all knowledge, even the forbidden knowledge, available to him. This was the first deception. Faustus deceived himself into believing that there is no hell. This is his second deception. Faustus believed in the Elysian Fields, the place of abode for the virtuous mortals or those given immortality by divine favor. He thought that he would spend eternity debating and learning from the great philosophers of ancient times. Faustus even asks Mephistopheles “What is Hell? The answer should have caused Faustus to shiver and turn to the God he had renounced.
“Why this is hell, nor am I out of it. Thinks’t thou that I, who saw the face of God,and tasted the eternal joys of heaven, am not tormented with ten thousand hells in being deprived of everlasting bliss! O Faustus, leave these frivolous demands, which strike terror to my fainting soul. ” Even through the warnings of Mephistopheles of the reality of hell, Faustus would not listen. He was deceived by his own lust for knowledge, fame and power. Faustus believed that he had greater strength, as a man, than had Mephistopheles. What, is great Mephistopheles so passionate for being deprived of the joys of heaven? Learn thou from Faustus manly fortitude, and scorn those joys thou never shalt possess. ” Faustus continues his self-deception as he is in his study waiting for the return of Mephistopheles. He is in a debate with himself, the good and the bad angel. Faustus at one point says, “Abjure this magic, turn to God again. Ay, and Faustus will turn to God again. ” Then he says that God does not love him and “The god thou servest is thine own appetite. ” This is the only truth that Faust speaks in this work. At midnight Mephistopheles returns.
Lucifer had agreed to allow Mephistopheles to attend to Faustus for 24 years, so that he could destroy his soul. Faustus has to sign a contract in his own blood. Mephistopheles tells Faustus that when he signs the contract he will be “as great as Lucifer. ” Because of Faustus’ deception, he did not see that if he were “as great as Lucifer,” then Lucifer would not have the right to claim his soul. As a part of the contract, Mephistopheles is to give Faustus his every desire. Here again is Faustus deceived. Because of sacrament or giving praise to God, Mephistopheles cannot give manifestation to his wishes.
When Faustus asks for a book to reveal the secrets of the universe, Faustus sees the beauty of God’s creation and says that Mephistopheles has deceived him. Faustus says, “When I behold the heavens, I repent, and curse thee, wicked Mephistopheles, because thou has deprived me of those joys. ” As Faustus begins to repent of his magic and conjuring, the good and bad angel appear to him. The good angel tells Faustus that he may redeem his soul, yet the bad angel tells him it is too late. Faustus is deceived again. Faustus again begins to repent and call on God. “Ah Christ my Savior! seek to save distressed Faustus’ soul. At this time Lucifer comes and commands that he not speak the name of God for it “does injure us. ” Faustus vows to never think of God, to pray. He also vows to burn the Scriptures, slay His ministers, and burn down His churches. Mephistopheles gives Faustus his wish of traveling the world and learning the nature of life. Then, soon, the 24 years of the contract is up. Faustus prepares a banquet for his students. They celebrate and discuss the beauty of fair ladies. Faustus calls up Helen of Troy, for she is the fairest. After his students leave, an old man appears to Faustus to persuade him to repent.
He does repent again, but at the threat of death, he turns his allegiance back to Lucifer. At eleven o’clock, the last hour of his life, Faustus tries to conceive every way of escaping hell. He commands the sun to stay still, so that the hour may not pass. He calls for the mountians to fall on him so that he may be spared the wrath of God. He says that he would lift his hands to God, yet he is bound, he would leap up to God, yet he is pulled down. The hour has come for Lucifer to lay claim to Faustus’ soul. In the end, because Faustus did not repent, he faced the reality of death, just as he was threatened by if he did repent.
Faustus’ greatest deception was the he allowed the fear of death and the loss of power to cause him to lose eternity. What Lucifer promised would happen to him if he repented is the way he died. He deceived himself in believing that there was no hell, that there was no punishment for his life. Yet he also deceived himself in believing that there was no mercy for him. God would pardon him, if he had not wavered. James 1:8 says, “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. ” This last statement, I believe, sums up the life of Dr. Faustus, “For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me
The word tragedy finds its origin in Greek spirit,theory and mythology in the word tragedia. Tragedy tends to bring to mind the thoughts of pity and sympathy. According to Aristotle, the famous Greek philosopher emotions of pity and fear are aroused while watching or listening to a tragedy. Tragedy is a play that represents a central action or plot that is serious and significant. These plays involve a main character that is a normal human being with his share of good and bad characteristics. The protagonist is socially active, intelligent and a learned man.
A tragic play entails both verbal and dramatic irony. Dr. Faustus was perhaps the most well written tragedy of its times and happens to remain so till date. Christopher Marlowe is the founder and the originator of the mature English tragedy. Written in 1586, Dr. Faustus is a part of the age that was famous unprecedented literary activity in England, especially drama. Insofar as the significance of the formulation of tragedy by Aristotle is unparalleled, the Elizabethan’s quest for prosperity both personal and national and spiritual and moral growth remains the major reason for the rise in tragic drama.
In addition to this the Renaissance brought with it a keen awareness of infinite capabilities and aspirations all of which remain unchanged even today. Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus is on similar lines. Its art of tragedy is instrumental in comprehending the complex nature, mind and life of a man in those times. For Marlowe or his successors tragedy was not a restriction of man’s ability to excel, rather it was in view of the glory it brought to in the man’s pursuit of his dreams, even though failure was inescapable.
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