Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus Essay

1423 words - 6 pages

This essay takes a look at how the given passage from Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus reflects the play as a whole, and what the passage contributes to the play. Doctor Faustus deals with many issues, for instance: the failure of ‘Renaissance man—of his dreams and aspirations and, more particularly, his failures and illusions.’ This idea of overreaching is central to the excerpt. Moreover, religion plays a large role in the extract, and continues to resonate throughout the entire play. This paper looks at both, the overreaching Renaissance man and religion, closely to show the importance of the passage under analysis to the complete work. Moreover, during Marlowe’s time, drama was considered to be ‘a satanic opposition to the Word of God’; therefore, this essay will determine whether Doctor Faustus was originally created to challenge or subvert such criticism. Furthermore, the poetic style, rhetorical devices, and intertextuality Marlowe employs are analysed to show how they may be different to the rest of the play, and how this affects the play as a whole. It is important to recognise that Marlowe’s personal life and beliefs may have had an impact on his work; however, this paper focuses on the play itself, and does not draw parallels with Marlowe and, the protagonist, Faustus. All in all, this essay considers whether one can see the entirety of the play in the chosen section.
William Hazlitt considers the character of Faustus to be a ‘personification of the pride of will and eagerness of curiosity, sublimed beyond the reach of fear and remorse.’ This is exemplified when Faustus decides to surrender his soul, disregarding all reprimands in order for him to gain more power over the span of ‘four-and-twenty years’. Preceding Faustus’s initial dialogue in the passage under observation, Mephastophilis declares that he has tasted ‘the eternal joys of heaven’, and is now ‘tormented with ten thousand hells / In being deprived of everlasting bliss’. (ll. 78-80); yet, Faustus ignores this information, which may suggest that Faustus does not believe what the devil has told him. Moreover, that he does not understand that signing his soul to the devil will lead to the same ‘eternal’ torment Mephistophilis experiences. Faustus’ ignorance allows his character to be interpreted as naïve and delusional, since he rejects heaven even when presented with the consequences. Additionally, Marlowe may be striving to show that Faustus’ decision is incorrect in accordance with Christianity. Conversely, Marlowe may have chosen to have his protagonist perform the opposite of a traditionally Christian person in order to ridicule religion. At first glance, when considering the passage in hand the latter reason seems to be appropriate, since the thought of attaining immeasurable power blinds Faustus; however, when viewing the play as a whole, it seems more likely that Marlowe was trying to show that the negotiation between Faustus and the devil is wrong: ‘No,...

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