Doctor Faustus is a significant and masterful play written by ChristopherMarlow. It is a unique play that it written during the beginnings of therenaissance period and therefore neither solely Renaissance nor Medieval instyle.
It is instead a great story of a man torn between the differences of theoutgoing Medieval Period and the incoming Renaissance told in a brilliant stylecomposed of the two distinct schools of thought. The brilliance of this play isthat it can be viewed from both a Medieval and Renaissance perspective. If Dr. Faustus is interpreted from a Medieval perspective, it goes along with the sameprincipals and morals that the majority of medieval literature tried to instill;that is, the righteousness of God and the Roman Catholic Church. In order tomake this story more effective, Marlow chooses to have Faustus deal with theessence of evil, Lucifer, the banished angel who betrayed God. In a classicsatirical form the play shows Faustus’ downfall after straying from God’s planand enlisting the help of the devil to become greater than what God had plannedfor him.Order now
Faustus also seems to want to not only stray from God and dominatemankind, but also, supercede and overrule God’s wishes to an even furtherextent. In Scene 3, Lines 110-111 we read: The emperor shall not live but by myleave, Nor any potentate of Germany. In these lines Faustus expresses his desireto hold control over all. Even the likes of the Holy Roman Emperor shall fall tothe power of his “black magic.
” Although the use of magic and thecharacter of the devil seems more of a parable-like story to modern day readers,to the people of the time this was a very plausible story of a man who shunnedgodliness and let greed and evil get the best of him. The existence ofsupernatural entities, namely devil-influenced beings such as witches andsorcerers, was very possible if not probable. Without the answers of science theunexplained was often chalked up to the powers of the supernatural. From arenaissance point of view, Dr. Faustus is a heroic tragedy. The renaissancemovement emphasized the power of the individual and the fulfillment of life.
Itbrought forth a desire for conquest, achievement and surmounting all obstacles. In the play, Faustus, is not satisfied with his abilities, or as he saw themlimitations, as a human being. He did what he had to do to further advance hisaccomplishments, striving to achieve his goals by any means necessary. In Scene1, Lines 49-54 we read: These metaphysics of magicians, And necromantic booksare heavenly! Lines, circles, schemes, letters and characters! Ay, these arethose that Faustus most desires. O what a world of profit and delight, Of power,of honor, of omnipotence.
In this passage Faustus reveals his desire for thepowers that will bring him knowledge, but most importantly, fortune and fame. This further illustrates the renaissance belief in taking control of your ownlife and determining your own destiny. The tragedy of this story occurs whendespite Faustus’ attempts to gain knowledge and power beyond his reach, hefails. He fails because his illusions of grandeur clouded the choices he makes. Dr.
Faustus is a man caught between traditions. He is trapped between thereligious Middle Ages and the man-centered Renaissance. This internal conflictis transformed to external by the use of the Good and Evil Angels. The GoodAngel is Representative of the God-fearing Medieval Period that believes indoing as God wishes, while the Evil Angel presents the views of a changingsociety where the potential of self is explored, in this case, at whatever cost. This is the type of conflict and transition that took place during this time. Although the major literary periods are usually denoted with dates, it isimpossible for one period to abruptly end and the other begin.
Instead it is agradual change that takes place as a result, or inspite of literary works suchas this one.