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In What Way Is Dr. Faustus An Anti Catholic Play?

1310 words - 5 pages

On the face of it, Dr. Faustus is not an anti-Catholic play. Yet, once you have read into it certain aspects of the play - there are many anti-Catholic notions and views that Marlowe has placed within the text. If the reader has no prior knowledge of how the world was in the Sixteenth century, then they would probably not uncover Marlowe's hidden messages. There are many issues dealt with in the play, yet, they all follow a route to anti-Catholicism. All of the ideas dealt with are reminiscent of the period that Marlowe is writing in, when people did have quite 'humanist' views and were hostile towards the Catholic Church because of the lies that they had been telling.The main theme of anti-Catholicism is Dr. Faustus' rejection of God. For a sixteenth century audience to watch someone reject God and sell their soul to the devil is the most anti-religious thing that they could do. They most probably would have been petrified of what the consequences of his actions would be. Yet, at the same time, would most probably have admired his courage to stand against an establishment that had ruled their entire lives by preaching falsehoods and in effect stealing from them (through the sales of 'indulgences'). Also, right from the beginning when we are introduced to Faustus, we find him in Wittenberg - the same place in which the monk Martin Luther lived - an anti-catholic statement in itself as Luther himself opposed the Catholic regime. I believe Marlowe has intentionally set the play in Wittenberg to make a statement right from the beginning that this play is set out to make anti-Catholic notions.The play deals with sin and damnation at the heart of Christianity's understanding of the world. The play shows us that Faustus' pride, which causes him to strive for knowledge, may have seemed admirable at the turning point in the Renaissance period, but that this pride and insolence to go against God makes him despaired of God's mercy. Christian teaching at the time was that if you did not follow Gods rules, you ended up eternally damned to a place called 'Hell' - a place that Faustus both believes in and disbelieves throughout the play. Hell is represented as a rather psychological torture in the play rather than a physical one (as Mephistophilis puts it to Faustus). We can get an idea of the attitudes of the people in Faustus' time by looking at how Marlowe represents Faustus. We can guess that Marlowe has a negative view of what Faustus did because he compares him to 'Icarus' from Greek mythology when he says;"His waxen wings did mount above his reach, and melting heavens conspired his overthrow. For falling to a devilish exercise"By saying this, Marlowe is expressing that going against God and selling his soul was the ultimate sin that caused Faustus to be damned. The audience's attitude towards Faustus may have been one of empathy rather than disdain for choosing to sin because at that time it was believed that it was our job to resist the temptations of...

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