· Assignment Paper: 1
Ø Topic : Faustus as a tragic hero
o Student’s Name : Gandhi Pooja S.
v Roll No : 15
· URL gandhipooja151011.blogspot.com
Ø Semester : 1
o Batch : 2010-11
Mr. Jay Mehta
Department of English
Christopher Marlowe was born the same year as Shakespeare. Marlowe was to become the first great poet of the theatre second great age. He was the son of shoemaker; Marlowe attended King’s school, Canterbury and Corpus Christi College where he received his graduation and post graduation.
In 1587 he began his career as a Playwright. The young poet plunged himself into a social circle where he included such colourful literary figures as Sir Philip Sidney, Sir Walter Raleigh. He shared his room with Thomas Kyd, Robert Greene and Thomas Nashe.
Primed by this new found intellectual stimulation, Marlowe soon wrote Tamburlaine the Great, first notable English play in blank verse. Marlowe’s other famous works:
Ø Doctor Faustus
· The Jew of Malta
o Faustus as a tragic hero:
· As a German scholar:
Doctor Faustus, a talented German scholar at Wittenburg. Faustus is shown in his study, examining various fields of the learning in order to decide upon his choice of the particular field in which to specialize. He is attracted by Analytics or Logic, but finds that he has already attained great proficiency in it. He next thinks of medicine but finds that his skill as a physician is already widely recognized. He also deplores the fact that the study of medicine has not enabled him to make human beings immortal or to bring dead men back to life. Legal Studies he goes on to say, are suited to a man who is merely money-minded. Divinity would perhaps be the best choice, but even divinity teaches a doctrine, the doctrine of fatalism, which is totally unsatisfactory. The study of magic makes a great appeal to him. Magic will bring him not wealth, but power and glory.
Ø As a Renaissance character:
Faustus is a contradictory character. Capable of tremendous eloquence and possessing awesome ambition, yet prone to a strange, almost willful blindness and a willingness to waste powers that he has gained at great cost. He imagines piling up wealth from the four corners of the globe, reshaping the map of Europe; both politically and physically, and gaining access to every scrap of knowledge about the universe. He is arrogant, self aggrandizing man, but his ambitions are so grand that we cannot help being impressed, and we even feel sympathy toward him. He represents the spirit of the Renaissance.
v His sarcastic remarks towards religious persons:
Faustus tries the efficacy of magic incantations and spells and feels elated at his success. Faustus makes a sarcastic remark about the so called religious persons. When he asks Mephistophilis to appear before him in the guise of an old Franciscan friar and says:
“That holy shape becomes a devil best.”
When Mephistophilis goes away in obedience to Faustus’s command, Faustus feels jubilant at Mephistophilis’ “obedience and humility.” “How pliant is this Mephistophilis”, he says and “now, Faustus, thou art conjuror laureate that canst command great Mephistophilis” He now regards Mephistophilis as a “brother”. There is a grim irony in all this because soon we shall find that Mephistophilis is not so pliant or obedient after all and that there is many a rebuff in store for Faustus from Mephistophilis, even apart from the tragic fate that will ultimately overtake him.
o Mephistophilis’ strong warning to Faustus before singing the bond:
There are three very significant observations which Mephistophilis makes. Faustus should have taken a strong warning if he had not been blinded by his deceptive visions of his future as a magician. Firstly, Mephistophilis makes it clear that he has come, not so much because of Faustus has provided convincing evidence that he is willing to incur the danger of everlasting damnation Secondly, Mephistophilis says that Lucifer fell from heaven because of his excessive pride and insolence. Faustus should have realized that he too is guity of excessive pride and insolence because of his desire to rise above his human status and “gain a deity”. Thirdly, Mephistophilis describes hell as a mental condition and not as a particular place or region where the damned souls are doomed to live. Mephistophilis also says that Hell is mental condition of men when Lucifer is out of Heaven, he put into Hell.
But Faustus ignores this remark also, even though it comes from horse’s mouth. Instead of becoming alert and careful, Faustus scolds Mephistophilis for feeling sorrowful at the loss of heavenly joys and sets himself as an example of “manly fortitude”.
“Why this is hell, nor am I out of it.
Think’st thou that I, who saw the face of God,
And tasted the eternal joys of heaven,
thou of Faustus manly fortitude,
And scorn those joys thou never shat possess.”
He is ready to offer his soul to Lucifer in, return for twenty-four years of voluptuousness and power.
· Faustus signs the crucial bond:
This dramatically a most important event of the play. Faustus signs the crucial bond. However, before he signs the bond, Faustus experiences a mental conflict which clearly shows that his experiences of conscience are neither dead nor asleep. In fact, he wavers between turning to God and seeking the patronage of the devil. The Good Angel and the Evil Angel make their second appearance and aggravate Faustus’s mental conflict, through the victory belongs, of course, to the Evil Angel. Inner conflict is a very important element in all great tragedies, and inner conflict constitutes a principal ingredient of this play. The two Angels, it may again be pointed out, are to be regarded partly as external forces representing the immutable principle of good and evil in this universe.
The congealing of Faustus’s blood and the inscription that appears on his arm are also important. These two incidents are supernatural intoxicated by his visions of the power that he hopes to acquire. The congealing of blood shows that, as Faustus himself says, “his blood or his soul is unwilling that he should sign the unholy contract.” The inscription on his arm may well be a hallucination but it is significant in so far as it is year anther danger signal betokening the blinder that Faustus has committed. Both these incidents add to the tension of the play and have a great psychological value.
Ø His desire to see the Hell:
Anther important point of the play is Mephistophilis’, “means a state of everlasting torture.” He says,
“Hell hath no limits, nor is circumscribe in one self-place, for where we are is hell, and where hell is, there must we ever be…. Faustus: Think’st thou that Faustus is so fond to imagine that after thisis any pain? Tush, there are tries and mere old wive’s tales.” (Scene-5, lines-120-135)
Faustus hears an account of hell form the horse’s own mouth as it were, and although Mephistophilis refers to himself as an example to prove that hell is a state of everlasting torture, Faustus proudly dismisses this information as old wives’ tales.
v Faustus’ wise to see Helen of Troy:
“Was this the face that lanced a thousand ships
And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?
Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss: -
And all is dross that is not Helen!” (Scene-12, lines-81-87)
Mephistophilis’ refusal to get is a sacred Christian ritual. The devil cannot tolerate anything that has the sanction of alternative, namely a mistress.
Ø Faustus would like to repent:
Then a quarrel between Faustus and Mephistophilis and ends with a reconciliation between him and the Devil. At first Faustus would like to repent. His desire for repentance is strengthened by the Good Angel, but he finds that his sins have so hardened his heart that repentance is impossible. Marlowe here gives us an insight into the mind of hardened sinner. We are reminded of the “Ancient Mariner” who also found it hard to pray to God and repent of his sin.
Mephistophilis’ refusal to name the power who made the world is quite natural. Being the enemy of God, Mephistophilis would not like to admit that the world was made by God. It is significant that, in his distress, Faustus calls upon Christ to save his troubled soul. But it is significant also that he does not get any help from Christ and that, on the contrary, Lucifer himself comes and claims his right over Faustus’s soul. Here we must only forget that the sin of Faustus is not only “pride”, but pride mingled with “curiosity” and “sensuality”.
· Faustus on his journey:
Faustus, has explored the earth from a chariot drawn by dragons and is now flying to Rome, where the feast honoring St.peter is about to be celebrated. Mephistophilis and Faustus wait for the Pope, depicted as an arrogant, decidedly unholy man. They play a series of tricks, by using magic to disguise themselves and make themselves invisible, before leaving.
At the court of Charles-5, Faustus performs illusions that delight the Emperor. He also humiliates a knight named Benvolio. When Benvolio and his friends try to avenge the humiliation, Faustus has his devils hurt them and cruelly transform them so that horns grow on their heads.
Faustus swindles a Horse-courser, and when the Horse-courser returns, Faustus plays a frightening trick on him. Faustus then goes off to serve the Duke of Vanholt. Robin the clown, his friend Dick, the Horse-courser, and a carter all meet. They all have been swindled or hurt by Faustus’ magic. They go off to the court of Duke to settle scores with Faustus. Faustus also toys with them, besting them with magic, to the delight of the Duke and Duchess.
Ø Tragic end of Doctor Faustus:
Faustus’s twenty-four years are running out. At last an old man enters, warning Faustus to repent Faustus opts for pleasure instead Mephistophilis for his damnation. The gates of Hell open. The clock strikes eleven. Faustus gives a final, frenzied monologue, regretting his choices. At the midnight the devils enter. As Faustus begs God and the devil for mercy, the devils drag him away. Later, the scholar friends find Faustus’s body, torn to pieces.
A part from the play, we come to know that the tragedy of Faustus happen because of his thirst for knowledge.