Dr. Faustus: Condemned from the Beginning (an essay on "The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus", by Christopher Marlowe)

Essay by ingrid8675College, UndergraduateA+, March 2006

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"The heart of man is the place the devil dwells in; I feel sometimes a hell dwells within myself."

-Sir Thomas Browne

Religio Medici

Ever since it first swept the European continent, Christianity has decidedly secluded all of its members, and nonmembers, who practiced witchcraft or anything related to the occult. Believing the practice to be one of the highest forms of idolatry, as well as a direct disservice toward God, Christians fear witches for their powers and influence. Even today, after the modern world has experienced significant secularization, young people, seeking an alternative to the Christian religion, turn quickly to Wicca, marking a distinction between its "white magic" and the horribly unacceptable black craft; they flatly resent association with pure witchcraft. Despite the longstanding hatred of witchcraft, witches still existed, and still live today, even if they are a small and exceptional group. They willingly give up their reputation and, if they were raised to believe in Christianity, they essentially give up their religion and very soul.

The fact that anyone would do that poses an interesting question, one that many have tried to answer. Sociologists and psychologists offer their more scientific opinions on the subject, but many writers use fiction to create a situation when witchcraft seems an easy answer for the protagonist. Modern books, such as Wicked by Gregory Maguire, create very engaging realities, but the art of identifying with the "wicked witch" is a fairly old concept. In his play The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus, Christopher Marlowe presents his own views of how a man is driven to damnation through witchcraft. While some critics believe that Marlowe's Faustus slowly surrenders his soul to the devil, it is more logical to assume that Faustus' soul and mind is in such a state that it is...