Dr. Faustus As A Tragic Character

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Dr. Faustus as a Tragic Character


Christopher Marlowe in Doctor Faustus, one of the earliest and the most famous non-Shakespearean Elizabethan tragedies, manages not only to bridge the gap between the medieval morality plays and the secular, classically influenced dramas of the Renaissance but to produce one of the core myths of Western civilization. Like Oedipus, Faustus, who exchanges damnation for knowledge and power, has become a resonating tragic archetype, epitomizing the doomed but daring overreacher whose rebellion and defeat enact a struggle for transcendence against the gravitational pull of the human condition. Faustus's bargain with the devil, his ambitious rise and terrifying fall, encapsulate and typify the dilemma of the modem tragic hero. In this study we are going to discuss, what characteristics make him a “tragic” figure as opposed to “bad” or “evil”? The paper will also analyze the Act 2 scene 1 of the novel.

What makes him Tragic than bad or evil?

Faustus's great final soliloquy consummates the play in both its aspects—Morality and Heroic Tragedy—and each in its own way triumphs over the other. In fear we acquiesce in the littleness and powerlessness of man, and in pity we share his sufferings and endorse his protest.

The horrible prospect of a man being burnt alive, which Marlowe (like the Christianity he honors) does not spare us, accounts for little of the pathos and power. Faustus had explained the seasonal 'circles' to the Duchess, who marveled at the winter grapes (IV. vii. 23), and he had numbered the cycles of the spheres, but now his knowledge is of a different order. The cosmic rhythms evoked by the sense of the poetry seem to hold dominion over its movement. The first equably stressed eleven words echo the striking clock—'Ah Faustus, Now hast thou but one bare hour to live'; the 'perpetually' that falls with finality at ...
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