Monday, November 16, 2009

Doctor Faustus is a renaissance man/hero.

Doctor Faustus is the most famous drama of Christopher Marlowe. Christopher Marlowe belonged to the Elizabethan age and he was one of the top dramatists of his age. He did not write a lot of plays but all his plays are of high quality and he can be easily compared with his contemporary Williams Shakespeare. If you read Doctor Faustus then you will understand that he was in no way a lesser dramatist than Shakespeare. In Doctor Faustus, we can find renaissance elements and many people think that Doctor Faustus is a renaissance man. I think that it has both renaissance and anti-renaissance elements. However, mostly it has renaissance elements and just one or two anti-renaissance elements.

The word renaissance means rebirth. Here, it means rebirth of classical knowledge of Greece and Rome. What happened is that after the Roman Empire got destroyed, Europe fell into Dark Age and then, the Christian Church was the dominant force. There was no good education and knowledge. Ordinary people did not have any scope of gaining knowledge and this way superstition became more common in the society. The Catholic Church became very powerful. However, in the 12th and 13th century, in Italy the renaissance movement started. The main goal was to find out the books of ancient Greece and Rome and again study them and discover the knowledge. It was like breaking the darkness of medieval Europe. There was a conflict between religion and knowledge and in the end the scholars could become the winner. Religion did not lose its importance totally but there was new protest against Catholic ideas of Christianity. The supremacy of Pope was challenged by the Protestants. In Doctor Faustus, renaissance has come in many ways. Here, I am going to discuss about the renaissance elements in Doctor Faustus.

If we look at the character of Doctor Faustus then the first thing we can find about him is that he was a scholar. He valued knowledge more than everything else. He was not satisfied with the knowledge he acquired. He wanted to gather more knowledge. This thirst in him is a very important renaissance element. Renaissance spirit was to gather knowledge, people should sacrifice their life.

Renaissance also praised individualism in stead of society. Faustus was an individualistic type of hero. He did not care for what others thought or what the society said. In stead he wanted to have his own ideas and challenge others. It is not that he was always right but he had individualistic ideas all the way in the drama.

I have stated earlier that renaissance challenged the supremacy of Catholic pope in Vatican. The same thing can be seen by Doctor Faustus. He has challenged Christianity and taken the support of the evil. Mephistopheles was evil and he wanted to take the soul of Doctor Faustus. Well, Doctor Faustus exchanged his soul for gaining more knowledge and Mephistopheles promised that any kind of knowledge will be within the power of Faustus.

A very important renaissance element was an appreciation of beauty and art. When Faustus became very powerful then he wanted to have a very beautiful wife and he selected Helen from Greek mythology. We know that Helen was the most beautiful woman in Ancient Greece and for her the battle between Troy and Greece was fought. Also, it is clear from the drama that Faustus had good appreciation about art. Here, I like to say that in renaissance Italy, painters and sculptures like Michael Angelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Rafael produced some great piece of works and thus changed the history of human civilization. Doctor Faustus had the same spirit about beauty.

There are some anti-renaissance elements that we can see in Doctor Faustus. Well, what we can see is that after he became very powerful he started to use his power for very small things. For example, he started to use his power to often nonsense and useless people. He turned the people he did not like as animals. This was not a good thing. He also became greedy for money and luxury. He did not give that much importance for knowledge for which his soul is sold. In stead, he spent his life for luxury and this is against the renaissance spirit.

Perhaps the most anti-renaissance element in Doctor Faustus is the death scene. When he was dying, he became very coward and he forgot everything and he wanted to get the forgiveness of god. He wanted to again come back to religion and Christianity. It was he who fought against the Christian ideas and made fun with religion but when death came to him he became very afraid.

Of course, it is natural because when a person is dying then he becomes very afraid. And secondly, if he was shown that he was not afraid of death and accepted death easily and did not care of Christianity then the audience of Christopher Marlowe’s time would become angry. Christopher Marlowe would have suffered from the Church that he was against Christianity. So, we have to think of the time that Christopher Marlowe wrote the drama.

In conclusion, I like to say that Doctor Faustus was a renaissance man and we have to remember the contribution of the scholars who dedicated their lives for bringing renaissance in Europe.


  1. Anonymous5:39 PM

    a good article

  2. Anonymous8:10 PM

    not bad, a good start at least...
    only downside is that there are not many arguments mentioned in your work that support your theory,

  3. Anonymous2:28 PM

    shuld add sum quotations 4rm txt

  4. Anonymous8:08 AM

    easy way to make understood the people about the central point of the topic. Hope more discussion on some of the topics with the same style. Thanks dear!!!!

  5. Anonymous7:32 PM

    lucid and simple

  6. Anonymous6:53 PM

    a much better article bt some what discussion can be extended..

  7. Anonymous1:53 AM

    very good article

  8. Anonymous3:14 AM

    this is terrible

  9. i think Marlow is not less than Shakespeare, but the bunch of Shakespeare's play and over discussion of the critics have made Shakespeare to over-shadow Marlow

  10. Anonymous4:41 PM

    a nyc article...

  11. Anonymous12:03 PM

    good....... approach
    i like it

  12. Anonymous7:03 PM

    perfect one !!

  13. Anonymous9:07 PM

    nice article

  14. saramuneer2:55 PM

    its perfect

  15. Anonymous3:41 AM

    This is Great, would have helped if there was some quotes to back up points.. but still Great !

  16. irfan farooqi1:23 AM

    excellent work

  17. irfan farooqi1:24 AM


  18. its really make my work so easy... thank you and keep it up...

  19. its really make my work so easy...thanks a lot & keep it up...

  20. Anonymous12:13 AM

    thnx a lot...

  21. Anonymous10:19 AM

    really helped me to understand the concept

  22. bizoy5:06 PM

    really helped for my assignment

  23. Anonymous2:27 AM


  24. Anonymous4:43 PM

    need to add more points..

  25. Anonymous8:30 PM

    yes, I really like this essay) very helped for my seminar)))))