Christopher Marlowe’s, ‘Dr Faustus’ is a tragedy. It incorporates a complex protagonist who is not strictly typical of a tragedy play. The Central scenes in the play demonstrate this unconventionality as they contain such humorous characters as, Robin and Rafe, the clown and the horse-courser.
These central scenes, including scene seven offer a sense of relief for the audience from the melancholic thoughts of Faustus’ inevitable damnation. The scene opens with Faustus’ vivid illustration of his journeys around the world. ‘Buildings, fair and gorgeous to the eye.’ Faustus seems to be in awe of the ‘delight’ and ‘sumptuous’ scenes before him. This contrasts to any qualities he has exposed before. Faustus seems to have adopted some humility and forgotten his former arrogance and hubris evident as early as scene one, ‘And reign sole king of all our provinces.’
As the scene progresses, Mephastophilis withholds some power, ‘Nay Faustus stay’ as he advises Faustus against seeing the pope. Mephastophilis’ human qualities emerge again as he almost seems fearful of the pope and his position in the religious world. This scene is significant to Faustus also as it shows the contrasts between the good and evil influences on him. Faustus makes it clear by his slapstick humour in the scene that he has no reverence for the pope whatsoever.
Faustus is childish made obvious by the stage directions, ‘Faustus hits him a box of the ear and they all run away’ Marlowe uses the pope as the ultimate object of Faustus’ jokes. The religious characters are not featured again in the play but emphasise Faustus’ degeneration and add interest to the audience and Faustus’ character. The language used by Faustus is much less elevated, self-involved and he does not address himself in third person. This language change is echoed in Faustus’ carefree attitude and spontaneous behaviour.
The Elizabethan audience, for which the play would have been originally performed, would have been shocked by the cursing sang by the friars at the end of the scene. The sixteenth century was religiously unstable time, and Marlowe’s daring scene intrigues the audience.
In conclusion the context of scene seven within the whole of Dr Faustus is important. It is a central scene in the play and as this, offers atmospheric and emotional uplift from the tragic events beforehand. Faustus’ character is given another level and his child-like spirit appears when given the power to do anything. This scene allows the audience to be shocked by what follows because soon after these central scenes Faustus is condemned to eternal damnation.