Analysis of People’s Key Drives on the Example of Prebble’s Enron and Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus
Both plays, regardless of their context, are simply about man’s need to control instincts inherently selfish, greedy and lustful. They are not political satires. It is clear that both Pebble and Marlowe are concerned with man’s inherent selfish, greedy and lustful flaws, to portray the overall Marxist critical message that perhaps man is too flawed to deal with excess power. However it seems that the plays are multifaceted and not simply about one thing. Thus they are both political satires as the plays riddle? The pope’s `seven fold power from heaven’ and capitalism in Enron, but alternatively, due to their different socio-economic contexts, Enron is more of apolitical satire than Dr Faustus.
There is little doubt that both playwrights portray their protagonists as flawed and ruled by the seven deadly sins of selfishness, greed and lust. Skillings authoritative tone compounds this idea in his statement. It doesn’t matter how you win as long as you win. The repetition of the monosyllabic lexis `win’ creates emphasis showing that this is Skilling’s sole aim regardless of its effects of causing `people to f….ing die’. This conveys how his personal hubris or greed creates an inherent selfishness. This is mirrored in Marlowe’s characterisation of Faustus. Faustus’ brain tires to become a demi-god. The active verb `tires’ shows Faustus’ preoccupation with this gaol to equal God’s power. This would have been partially shocking to a contemporary audience to whom the role and power of God was unquestionable. Thus Faustus’ attempts to despair in God and usurp him would have compounded the presence of his Greed.
Structurally these sinful characteristics are further embedded. From the beginning of Enron Skilling’s selfishness is conveyed as he exclaims his company’s `running on Darwinian principles’ and his monosyllabic distressing statement than `money and sex motivate people’ suggest our lust and greed is inherent. However, what heightens the suggestion that these sins are inherent is that on the final epilogue Skilling distorts the standard biblical corinthius quote to state `the greatest of all is..money’. It is structurally interesting and distressing that Skilling’s mindset has not changed regarding money despite the fact that ‘the Californian electricity [was] deregulated’ due to his actions. Thus, contextual knowledge about the far reaching effects of the Enron crash that would resonate with contemporary audiences enhance the notion that Prebble is preoccupied with man’s inherent greed. As Marxist criticism would thus deduce that the moral message is that man is too flawed to handle power.
This moral message is compounded in Dr Faustus which would have contextually acted as a warning to the audience, as the 17th Century was a time of emerging individualism, where questions of `who made the world’ were rampant. However, this Marxist warning is issued through the archetypal characterisation of Faustus who mirrors Skillings preoccupation with the `selfish gene’, in the phrase `I am wanton and lascivious’. The combination of the first person pronoun, which shown his selfishness, combined with the adjective `wanton’ and `lascivious’ which connotate lust, suggest that Faustus is not equipped with the necessary instincts to wield power equal to that `of a deity’.
However, wile it is clear that man’s inherent instincts are shown as base in both plays and we have to learn to control them before we can yield power, they do also have elements of political satires. Enron’s context suggests that Prebble aims indeed to satirise this world. Prebble ridicules those in power by depicting the Lehman brothers `as conjoined twins’ who `struggle to turn in unison’. The verb struggle implies the weakness of contemporarily important business men. The raptors heighten this satire through the dramatic device of using the raptors. They create a metaphorical hell, like in Faustus where the plosive consonants `bodies boil in lead’ shows its horror. It is ironic that the foundation of a ‘gold glinting’ company whom the congresswoman champions saying `I don’t know how you’re doing it but keep doing it’ is actually built on the foundation of hell were it is just a ‘tiny, glowing, red box’ holding up the company. This box is a powerful dramatic prop that Prebble employs to heighten the satire. As it is ‘tiny’ it seems clearly insufficient to the audience to hold up the company, also the combination of the ‘glowing’ and ‘red’ creates a warning for the audience as red connotates danger. Thus this is a warning about the capitalist system that ‘encourages.’ Through ‘loopholes’, these rotten foundations that lead to the desperation and fear of the public how ‘lost everything.’
Evidently, Prebble satires capitalism as it facilitates greed and lust at Enron, these seven deadly sins are in part shown in Faustus as being the responsibility of the exterior system. The Pope is satirised and made to look like a fool as `condemns’ Faustus `to hell’ for the mere crime of `stealing his holiness’ wine’. Therefore Marlow is commenting on the pope’s obsession with material items such as `wine’ that make him send Faustus to hell. It is further satirised through the dramatic irony that the audience note as Faustus has already been condemned `to a vast perpetual torture house’. Therefore this religious figure has been outdone by the devil. It seem s logical that Marlowe satirises the Pope as contextually the contemporary audience has moved towards Protestantism and thus the pope was no longer deemed necessary. However, Marlowe goes further and like Prebble the contemporary upheld belief system. This time, opposed to capitalism, it is Calvinism that is subject to ridicule by the playwright. This was a protestant belief in predestination which Marlow satirises in the chorus’ phrase `heavens conspired his overthrow’. The active verb `conspired’ suggests that Faustus’ fall was predetermined. Therefore, subtly Marlowe could be stating that the belief in Calvinism makes Faustus’ `Pleasure and dalliance’ justifiable as regardless of his actions Faustus is already destined for the `torture house’ . However, Marlowe’s satire is not as evident as Prebble’s. Indeed, an alternative reading would be that Dr Faustus is not really a satire due to its adherence to morality play traditions. The use of the chorus and the undercharacterised archetypal use of a good and bad angel suggest that the play is indeed a morality play. Therefore, Marlowe is more concerned with creating a moral message about the individual than about condemning the flaws of the overall society. This is enhanced by the contextual setting as Marlowe being a 17th century play-write would have had less poetic liberty and freedom than Prebble to comment on the overall society. Instead Marlowe would have been punished.
Therefore, to conclude, both plays do consider the inherent flaws in mankind that arguably make us ill-equipped to handle power. Therefore, Marlowe creates a more personal moral message that personal hubris will mean that `cut is the branch that might have grown full straight’ so Marlow’s warning is more about the individual. This is in contrast to Prebble, whose message is more about the duplicity of the capitalist system, portrayed through the greed of mankind in Enron. Therefore Enron is more of a political satire, enhanced by the brechtian techniques, than Faustus’ personal moral message.
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Both plays, regardless of their context, are simply about man’s need to control instincts inherently selfish, greedy and lustful. They are not political satires. It is clear that both Pebble […]