doctor faustus literary analysis
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doctor faustus literary analysis

But as Christianity spread and either assimilated or rejected other belief systems, practitioners of magic came to be viewed as evil. In the fifth century CE, St. Augustine, perhaps the most influential Christian thinker after St. Paul, pronounced all sorcery to be the work of evil spirits, to distinguish it from the good "magic" of Christian ritual and sacrament. The view of the sorcerer changed irrevocably. Magic was devil-worship, outside the framework of Church practice and belief, and those who practiced it were excommunicated and killed.

How to write a good application 8th grade graduation speech Protestant Reformation did not include reform of this oppressive and violent practice.

The conceptions of scholarship further complicated the picture, especially after the Renaissance. Some of these subjects blurred the lines between acceptable pursuit of knowledge and dangerous heresy.

As this new Christian folklore of sorcery evolved, certain motifs rose to prominence. Once Christ was rejected, a sorcerer could give his soul to the devil instead, receiving in exchange powers in this life, here and now.

Numerous Christian stories feature such bargains, and one of the most famous evolved around the historical person Johanned Faustus, a German astrologer of the early sixteenth century. Marlowe took his plot from an earlier German play about Faustus, but he transformed an old story into a powerhouse of a work, one that has drawn widely different interpretations since its first production.

In the nineteenth century, the great German writer Johann Wolfgang van Goethe gave the story its greatest incarnation in Faust. The version is shorter linesand until the twentieth century was considered the authoritative text. The version is longer linesbut the additions were traditionally thought to have been written by other playwrights. Twentieth century scholarship argues that the B text of is in fact closer to the original, though possibly with some censorship.

He recognizes that he has no power without this demon then repeats his call until Mephistophilis appears. He no longer believes that he will make the mountains move and rulers will fear him, but rather that nothing can touch him when he is with Mephistophilis.

Faustus has no power of his own; he is completely dependent on the demon who owns his soul. This statement seems baseless as it was Faustus who decided to turn to black magic and claimed theology was beneath him.

Robin and Ralph are low characters that underscore the main action of the story. Like Faustus, Robin wishes to "see" and know more. Robin uses this statement to mock his masters. This sexual innuendo suggests that Robin wants to use magic to cuckhold his boss; he wants to engage in earthly power and pleasure.

It is a Catholic ceremonial day that honors Saint Peter and Saint Paul, who were both martyred for preaching the word of Christ. Olympus is the home of the gods in Greek mythology. Faustus has reached the pinnacle of power and divine wisdom. However, it is the pinnacle of ancient pagan power, sacrilegious power. This means "And all the saints also curse him. This can be read as a subtle criticism or mockery of the Catholic Church. Rather than greeting the "spirit" with love and forgiveness, they greet him with curses.

This Latin phrase means "May the Lord curse him. However, the friars instead launch into this deluge of curses against the spirit. This is usually a religious saying that refers to the grace or presence of God. However, here Mephistophilis manipulates the words to refer to "belly-cheer," or indulgence in food and feasting.

Notice that Faustus is now swearing by the underworld and the places ruled by the Devil rather than God or paradigms of Christianity. Faustus has undergone a change between this scene and the last time we saw him: It was the boundary of the Roman Empire and a convenient, vital trade route.

Doctor Faustus: Theme Analysis

Faustus is using this list of what he did in order to show that he has seen the wonders of the world. Notice that Mephistophilis does not consider Robin and Ralph "glorious souls" that are worth buying for the Devil. This could be a classed understanding of the afterlife, that low souls are not worth collecting. Or it could be another exploration of predestination. Perhaps Mephistophilis cannot collect these two souls because they dna replication essay not predestined to damnation.

Thus their involvement with magic is only a waste of his time. It is unclear from the stage directions whether or not Mephistophilis actually turns Robin into an ape and Ralph into a dog.

This could be just a threat, or it could be a punishment that the two clowns do not treat as a punishment. This Latin phrase means "Have mercy on us! He immediately revokes his dark magic, unlike Faustus who refused to repent every time he was given an opportunity.

However, what he produces is dog-Latin, nonsense Latin words like abracadabra. This is a parody of the stolen knowledge that Faustus has acquired; Robin has merely stolen a cup and blamed it on his magic book. In this retort Faustus threatens the Knight in two ways. He is not sleeping, and now his body is falling apart.

Faustus contemplates his eternal damnation with an air of seriousness—he seems worried about what will happen to him. Generally in Renaissance plays comedic scenes break up the tension between dramatic scenes. But here comedy and drama exist within the same scene suggesting that there is no respite from the damnation Faustus will suffer.

Notice again how Faustus wastes his magical powers on little tricks and merriment such as this. He is wasting his powers with diversion. Notice that Faustus references tragic, ill fated love stories to describe his relationship with this paramour. He twists these stories and conveys them falsely. This creates a melancholic tone to this speech to a lover: Arethusa is a nymph from Greek mythology.

When Alpheus, the river god, saw her bathing naked, he became infatuated with her and began to pursue her all over the world.

doctor faustus literary analysis

By cutting himself off from the creator of the universe, Faustus is condemned to mediocrity. He has gained the whole world, but he does not know what to do with it. Everything best college entrance essay possible to him, but even as he decides, in full Renaissance spirit, to accept no limits, traditions, or authorities in his search for knowledge, wealth, and power, he must resign himself to performing tricks for kings and noblemen and playing practical jokes.

A symbol is an object used to represent an idea. Blood plays several symbolic roles in the play. When Faustus signs away his soul, he signs in blood, symbolizing the permanent and supernatural nature of his pact with the devil. An allegory is a literary device where abstract concepts are given concrete form as people or objects.

Doctor Faustus uses a type of allegory that was very common in medieval plays: He represents the emerging individuality and scientific inquiry of the Renaissance, and its rejection of the religious, God-centered universe of the medieval world. The theme that represents the modern spirit of the Renaissance in the play is that an ordinary man is as important as those who are great and famous.

The theme that represents the medieval world in the play is that the new, modern spirit of the Renaissance, however appealing it may be, will lead only to eternal damnation. Doctor Faustus uses a literary device called personification in which sins and virtues are represented by actual people. To unlock this lesson you must be a Study. Create your account. Already a member?

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doctor faustus literary analysis

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Marlowe uses the tension between comedy and drama to underscore the themes of the play.

doctor faustus literary analysis

The beginning of the play consists of highly dramatic moments between Faustus, Mephistophilis, and the devil Lucifer as Faustus tries to decide whether or not he will sell his soul. However, as soon as he sells his soul the play becomes comedic.

Faustus plays practical jokes on knights and the pope, and comedic low characters Robin and Ralph are introduced in order to parody the Faustian bargain.

doctor faustus literary analysis

As the play comes to a doctor faustus literary analysis, the high drama of the beginning returns: Faustus falls ill and begins to regret his decisions.