Analyzing the Tragedy of Dr. Faustus

Published: 2021-09-28 16:25:03
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Category: Tragedy, Faust, Doctor Faustus

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Alfonso Villarreal Mrs. Bohn World Literature Honors April 9, 2012 Analyzing the Tragedy of Dr. Faustus The struggle between good and evil is arguably the most significant theme in the play. This struggle is most evident within the main character Faustus. He is torn and undecided about whether or not he should repent for sinning and return to God or follow through with the contract he signed with Lucifer. His internal struggle lasts almost the entire play, as part of him wants to be good serving God while the other part seeks the power Mephastophilis promises. Metaphastophilis himself has mixed motives and symbolizes this theme.
On one hand he pursues Faustus’ soul, intending to carry it to hell while on the other he persuades Faustus to reject the contract because of the horrors he would encounter in hell. This theme, mostly existing within Faustus, provides interest and intrigue as to wonder if whether or not the highly intellectual doctor will finally come to his senses and repent. The play would be significantly less enjoyable if it followed a less interesting man, a man who morally feels no regret in giving up any chance of a positive afterlife for temporary powers. This indecision within Faustus also provides the central drama of the play.
The struggle between good and evil is best symbolized by the Good and Evil Angels. Each angel struggled to pull Faustus towards its side as Faustus himself struggled between his human reason or logic and his lustful desire for power. Good and evil battle once more when Faustus encounters the Old Man in the final scene. The Old Man is another symbol which replaces the Good and Evil Angels from earlier scenes. He persuades Faustus to repent and renounce his powers while it’s not too late. Marlowe uses mythological allusions in a rather clever way in this particular work.

They provide the audience with a more interesting play and extends the limits of the play’s subject if even slightly. One of the most significant allusions was one performed in Faustus’ visit to Charles V’s court. Charles V pleads Faustus to perform sorcery for him, an allusion of Alexander the Great and his lover. Faustus performs a simple trick and Alexander suddenly appears before the emperor’s eyes. The purpose of this allusion is to show another great feat performed by Faustus and one that certainly brings interest to one of the most powerful men in the world.
Marlowe was in some aspects a Renaissance writer and his work was a product of the age. He uses these allusions in the play to illuminate the transition between old beliefs and new ideas and knowledge. This transition served as one of the essential elements in the movement and Marlowe applies it with ease in his great work. “What art thou, Faustus, but a man condemned to die? ” (IV, v, 25) The quote above addresses many essential aspects of the play. One of these aspects is the struggle between good and evil, a theme represented most by Faustus and his indecision. This quote indicates this theme of the play more than any other.
Yes, Faustus is speaking his most troubled thoughts. What is he if not a fool who sold his soul for a temporary power only to perish in an eternal fire? Again it is evident that he struggles with his two most important principles, his lust for power and his reason. He ponders whether or not he made the right choice. The fact that he even struggles with this is ironic at the very least. One of the most intelligent men of his time is too blind to see the horror in Hell. This quote is also significant in that it represents his tragic fall as his corrupt morality prevents him from repenting in time and ultimately dooms him to an eternity in Hell.

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