The Religious Motivations of Christopher Marlowe's Dr Faustus
Dr Faustus is a short play written by Christopher Marlowe. The play is a masterful insight into the paradoxical soul of mankind and its ironically self inflicted corruption. The play could be classified as a theological allegory. It can be assumed that the play specifically speaks to the religious motivations of the time, but can be adapted to the present as well. Marlowe portrays Faustus’ ambition as dangerous; it was the cause of his demise. Perhaps Marlowe used the theme of over-ambition as a warning to the audience, who would be likely to be wary of ambition - it was looked down on as a negative personality trait in Christian England (Calvinism) (Munteanu, Class notes). An on going theme within the story is the corruption of a soul which is played out through the use of religious beliefs. Specifically, the use of the seven deadly sins is a precursor to man kinds self inflicted death. Marlowe uses sin, redemption and damnation to get his point across to the audience. The sins that Marlowe specifically uses are those of: pride, covetousness, wrath, envy, gluttony, sloth and lechery. Theses sins are colourfully displayed through the character traits of Dr Faustus. In the process we view them and can adapt them to our own lives and how they are all parts to the corruption of our souls.
Marlowe reflects ambition in the character of Faustus to deter the audience from being ambitious, and over-reaching their place in the laws of the church. Marlowe uses symbols of religion to fill the play such as the use of the dark arts, angles, demons, God, the Devil, quotes from the bible, the symbol of blood, and the use of the seven sins. With the use of these icons he humours the reader he displays the gullibility of even the greatest leaders.
In the prologue, Marlowe introduces us to Dr Faustus via the chorus. Here we are told of the life of an ordinary man, born to modest people. This piece tells us that in the new age of the Renaissance, a common-born scholar like Faustus, is as important as any king or warrior, and his story is worthy of being told. Also state is that Dr Faustus’s swelling pride will lead to his downfall. Here we are addressed with a precursor of what is about to happen and how it is to be facilitated, again by one mans desire to destroy himself in respect to Godliness.
In act one, Marlowe portrays Faustus as being over-ambitious by his turning to magic, which is a much more sinister and much less conventional pursuit than others that he had been discussing previously. Faustus hopes that magic will make him omnipotent and god-like.
Through out the next few acts we see Dr Faustus disregard the teachings against the seven deadly sins with his trickery and debauchery. The great doctor Faustus has the seven deadly sins entrenched in his life and they are displayed by his various actions during the play.
The first deadly sin was that of pride. Dr Faustus saw...