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The Tragical History Of Doctor Faustus

1487 words - 6 pages

In Marlowe’s The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus, Faustus tries to reach divinity through knowledge; this desire drives his pact with Lucifer. Adrian Eckersley proclaims in his literary journal, “Why doesn't Dr Faustus just repent? Adrian Eckersley compares Marlowe's unrepentant sinner with Claudius in Hamlet,” that once Faustus obtains supreme knowledge he is nothing special. This is not the case; the character, Faustus, obtains awesome familiarity in subjects only shared by God and the Devils. In the literary journal, “'Falling to a diuelish exercise': The Copernican Universe in Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus,” Gabrielle Sugar argues that Faustus does not have total access to infinite knowledge. Since Mephistopheles will not disclose to Faustus whether Copernicus is correct or not, Sugar believes that he does not have knowledge that “exceeds human boundaries” (Sugar, LRC). Christopher Marlowe is not providing society with answers to the timeless inquiries of God and religion, he is only giving us the questions that we must ask ourselves.
Eckersley’s argument is that Faustus’ infinite knowledge is not that powerful. He writes that Faustus realizes he does not “have much real power” (Eckersley, LRC) in the middle acts of the play. He thinks that Faustus’ pranks and tricks are the full extent of his capabilities and that Marlowe does this to show that God does not have much power either, this argument is wrong. Eckersley thinks that Marlowe’s entire purpose of the play is to showcase how weak God actually is. What Eckersley misses is that Marlowe is not trying to send a one-dimensional message about the nature of God. Marlowe is not attempting to show that God does not exist or that he does exist and is indifferent to human beings. Doctor Faustus is simple; it is a multi-dimensional mockery of God that brings questions to the table, not answers. Although his journal is only useful to disagree with, at least Eckersley is in the ball park with his argument. Gabrielle Sugar’s argument is flawed to its core.
Sugar claims that Faustus is not actually able to receive infinite knowledge and has limited access to the knowledge of the divine. She uses the Copernican Universe as an example of information that Faustus does not have access to. Does Sugar also expect Mephistopheles to explain quantum theory in Act II? Sugar’s argument is so terribly flawed that it almost does not even deserve a counterargument. In fact, one does not even need to quote her to disprove her argument. The context in which she argues is so awful that it is hard to believe that she has any published work. The Copernican Principle was not a widely accepted theory until later in the 17th Century, nearly one hundred years after Marlowe’s play was published. Marlowe could not allow Faustus to know that the Earth is not the center of the universe because it was not a scientific law yet. Faustus’ lack of information on the structure of the universe does not mean that he has a...

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