Doctor Faustus as a Religious Play

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Taylor Allbritton
Block 5B
Doctor Faustus as a Religious Play
Doctor Faustus is a play about a renaissance man who sells his soul to the devil for twenty-four years of worldly power. Faustus rejects Christian morals and becomes in a sense a demonic magician. The author Christopher Marlowe portrays the typical renaissance man of the time as a buffoon. Faustus uses his demonic power only to entertain rather than to accomplish any great deeds. As a whole the play is basically about what happens to a man if he rejects God. Christopher Marlowe’s play, Doctor Faustus, has an underlying theme of evil while still portraying Christianity. Although at the time the play was written, it did not receive much attention. Doctor Faustus is considered to be Marlowe’s most impacting play. I would have to agree with this widespread idea. Growing up hundreds of years after this play was written there are still the themes of Doctor Faustus in works of literature today. The story of someone selling their soul to the devil for whatever they wish to gain can be found not only in the play Doctor Faustus but also in works of literature that followed. It is a theme in literature based around evil but it furthermore advances the Christian idea that fraternizing with evil and demons will eventually have you placed in the fiery pits of hell. The play Doctor Faustus is centered around the idea evil. The whole plot in itself is evil. A man who fraternizes with witchcraft, spirits, demons, and Lucifer, eventually gives his soul to them instead of worshiping God is bases itself around what happens when evil forces enter your life. The play Doctor Faustus is the exact portrayal of this. “Mehpistophilis defines hell not as physical but psychological, not as a place but state of mind. Although Faustus receives this information from and authority (devil of hell), he refuses to believe hell exists, cling to the notion that hell is an old wives tale (Schmidt 97.)” In Doctor Faustus Mephostophilis is Lucifer’s right hand man. He comes to Faustus in the beginning of the play after Faustus’ has conjured him. He try’s to explain to Faustus the hell in which he will enter if he does indeed give his soul to Lucifer. Faustus being so thirsty for power does not even listen to a demon from hell. Marlowe is showing the idiocy of a man who has his heart so filled with evil and thirst for world power is willing to dismiss the fact that he will burn in hell for what he is about to do. Faustus is in fact representing what was going on at the time in which the play was written. “In Faustus, however, he found a character whose thirst for power results in the most terrible price-the loss of his eternal soul. The story offered Marlowe the framework with which to examine the society in which he lived (Schmidt96.)” Men of the renaissance were coming away from the strict fear of God, fire, and brimstone. They started taking on humanistic views. These humanistic views had the ideas to better one’s life there was not the strong need for Christianity, but rather the need for an education. In the play Marlowe shows the stupidity of this kind of thinking and shows that even with superior education men can be persuaded by dark forces of evil to make the wrong decision. Faustus is used as the main example in the play. He is known as own of the smartest men around but still his want for more power puts him in the situation he is in. “Ironically, the fall of Faustus, a scholar and student of logic, comes in the end from his narrow understanding of logic in general and of syllogism in particular” (Schmidt 96.)” Faustus is made to be such a buffoon in the play it almost makes the character unbelievable. In the play there is a scene in which angels come to Faustus to try and persuade him in two directions the...