Christopher Marlowe's play, "Dr. Faustus".

Essay by sweetbirksHigh School, 12th gradeA+, May 2003

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Christopher Marlowe's play, Dr. Faustus, was a play full of battles between two strong, prevalent forces in life. The first of these battles this paper will discuss is the battle between the belief systems of two major time periods in history, the medieval time period, and the Renaissance. The second battle is a more common fight that most people go through in their lives, the battle between good and evil. The latter of these conflicts is of course what makes this play so easy for the common person to relate to, but on a historical basis, the former struggle is just as important in the framework of the story line.

Doctor Faustus, himself, is a man torn between two traditions. He is a man with medieval beliefs, but renaissance aspirations. From a medieval point of view, Doctor Faustus can be looked upon as a morality play; a play about one man who aspires beyond his God-given place in the world, thus bringing on his downfall.

In the prologue, the chorus states that "Now he is born, his parents of base stock" (line 11), but Faustus still rises until, "His waxen wings did mount above his reach" (line 21). Faustus considers and rejects the medieval way of thinking. He resolves, in full Renaissance spirit, to accept no limits, traditions, or authorities in his quest for knowledge, wealth, and power. From a Renaissance perspective, this play is a tragedy. The Renaissance was a time of individuality unlike the Middle Ages where a man was trapped in whatever social class into which he was born. Faustus is an essentially good man by Renaissance ideals who believes he has reached the end of human knowledge and decides the only way to increase his knowledge is to turn to Lucifer.

Faustus fights an inner battle...