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Doctor Faustus Duality in the Doctor: Values in Faustus

Uploaded by Qcom12 on Apr 27, 2005

In Christopher Marlowe’s the epic Christian tragedy, Doctor Faustus, the protagonist, Dr. Faustus, struggles between following God or Lucifer. Faustus, who is an enigma in himself, is capable of tremendous eloquence and willful blindness. His refusal to see what is fact and what is fiction is a result of his pompous persona. In his quest to become omnipotent, Faustus fails to see that there is life after death and that his material possessions are of no consequence. Faustus is a combatant in his own internal war of knowledge or salvation. Faustus’s inner turmoil gives way to the dominant meaning within the play: Medieval morals versus Renaissance ideals. Faustus’s harrowing demise serves not only as a message to all but also gives justice to the age-old cliche “too little too late.� Marlowe’s characterization of Faustus leads one to the predominant idea of duality in society of his era in which Medieval values conflict with those of the Renaissance.

In the opening of the play Marlowe uses the chorus to announce the time, place, and most importantly, to introduce Faustus. The chorus refers to the Greek myth of Icarus while characterizing Faustus - “ Till swoll’n with cunning, of self conceit,/ His waxen wings did mount above his reach/ And melting, heavens conspired his overthrow!�(Prologue. 19-21.). “ His waxen wings did mount above his reach� is an ironic comparison between Icarus and Faustus. It is ironic because Icarus directly disobeys his father, which ties into the idea of moral sin. However, in Faustus’ case it is disobedient to become too learned. Also, the line “ heavens conspired his overthrow� could be a reference to Lucifer’s attempt to overpower God. Thus, the Chorus would ultimately be making reference to Faustus attempting to outwit God. This does in fact tie into the stark contrast between Medieval and Renaissance values; the medieval world shunned all that was not Christian while the Renaissance was a re-birth of learning in which people openly questioned divinity as with much more. The chorus makes it seem that Faustus is a ‘bad’ man because he seeks knowledge. In essence, it portrays Faustus as a “Renaissance man who pays the medieval price for being one.�

Faustus’s constant struggle between conforming to Medieval values or exploring Renaissance principles is heightened by the Good Angel and Bad Angel. The Good Angel pulls Faustus towards Medieval...

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Uploaded by:   Qcom12

Date:   04/27/2005

Category:   Literature

Length:   7 pages (1,569 words)

Views:   3626

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