To what extent is Faustus a humanist? This essay refers to the studying of the text Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe.

Essay by Luckie85College, Undergraduate May 2003

download word file, 3 pages 5.0

Downloaded 111 times

Faustus' character is certainly not one-dimensional. Throughout the timeframe of twenty-four years in which the play takes place, we see Faustus in different lights, but none of them provide a cast-iron mold of what 'type' of character Faustus is. Thus we can assume he is three-dimensional; extremely complex. Marlowe likely developed Faustus in this way so as to provide the audience with questions rather than answers. However, many critics have perceived elements of humanism portrayed through Faustus. Although due to my prior explanation we cannot wholly label Faustus a humanist, we can analyse what ideas and notions he develops within the play that could imply this concept.

Religion is clearly a large theme in Doctor Faustus. Faustus is no atheist ? his pact with the Devil, no matter how dubious of Hell he is, provides solid evidence of another world. Critic George Santayana stated in 1910 that "He (Faustus) is no radical unbeliever, no natural mate for the Devil?like the typical villain of Renaissance."

Although you do not have to be an atheist to be a humanist, Santayana's point implies that Faustus' Christianity supports the idea that he is incapable of humanist thought.

Faustus' belief in God is proved in the text as he quarrels with himself over his decision to sell his soul to Lucifer:

Ay, and Faustus will turn to God again.

To God? He loves thee not;

The god thou serv'st is thine own appetite,

Wherein is fix'd the love of Beelzebub


Although Faustus' faith in God's love is uncertain, his belief in both a god and a devil are determined.

Of course, the belief in a god is not simply enough to prove Faustus a humanist. Humanists that are Christians still believe in a god but believe the power of man to be stronger ?...