How Far Does Renaissance Drama Endorse Providentialism?

Essay by medium1985University, Bachelor'sC, April 2004

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Providentialism plays as large a part in renaissance drama as it did in the lives of those who wrote and watched it. Lasting from the year 1450 and extending through to 1600, the renaissance saw the creative expression of religion throughout the world. Examples of this can be seen in the first printed bible and the painting of the Sistine Chapel, however it was also a time of great social turbulence as religious transformations were thrust upon the people of Europe. In a time of amazing discoveries and uncertainties man desperately tried to understand God's plan for him. This is reflected in many of the Renaissance Dramas

A prominent example of this is Marlowe's 'Dr Faustus.' The story of a man so desperate for power that he allies himself with Lucifer, choosing to ignore the warnings of others as they cautioned him of the eternal price for sin, damnation.

While indeed the theme of providence is very much present, the actual endorsement of the same can be questioned. Both God's plan and man's own capacity for achievement is explored. This highlights the conflict between the classic Greek worldview that man is the centre of the universe and the Christian worldview which firmly places man below God.

'Man defies the gods at his own peril, but man has nobility that no deity can match.'

The prologue, presented to the audience by the ominous and faceless "chorus", sets the tone of the play and hints at what fortune has in store for Faustus.

'His waxen wings did mount above his reach.'

Drawing parallels from the fable of Icarus, and directing the speech directly to the audience rather than to another character, it appears as almost as a warning to the audience themselves. The anonymous chorus arguably could be interpreted as...