Doctor Faustus Marlowe

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“Doctor Faustus” by Christopher Marlowe and “The Tempest” by William Shakespear: Main Components of Meta-Theatricality

November 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

A play can have power over its audience, whether it simply captivates them with its plot or makes them question their beliefs with its commentary. Though while the actors are the ones directly exercising this power over the audience, it is the writer or director that has power over everything. Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus and William Shakespeare’s The Tempest are meta-theatrical plays in that their characters parallel this power structure of the theater; the plays’ main characters can all be classified as either being the audience, an actor, or a director, and it is the character representing the director in each play who has power over the characters which represent the audience, through the characters who the director uses as actors. The plays differ, though, in terms of how the director maintains power over the audience; in Doctor Faustus, Mephistopheles is the true director, but convinces Faustus that he is a director to keep him unaware of his role as the audience. On the other hand, Prospero in The Tempest flaunts his theatricality and keeps his audience aware that they are an audience viewing a performance, which more closely resembles real theater in which the audience is aware of the fact that they are spectators. These different approaches to power dynamics among characters are indicative of the writers’ different approaches to theater itself.

A real audience in a real theater is aware of the fact that they are spectators so are not, therefore, completely susceptible to the power of the play; they are aware that what they are seeing is a performance, so they are capable of resisting the play’s influence. So in Doctor Faustus, Mephistopheles, through performance, allows Faustus to believe that he is the director so he does not realize he is actually the audience, the one under Mephistopheles’ power. This way, unaware of the performative nature of the demon he believes he controls, Faustus is unable to resist the Mephistopheles’ power. Faustus assumes that he is in control right away once he summons the demon. “I charge thee to return and change thy shape / Thou art too ugly to attend on me. / Go, and return an old Franciscan friar; / That holy shape becomes a devil best,” Faustus immediately tells Mephistopheles once he appears (Marlowe 1.3.24-5). Not only is Faustus assuming that he is in charge and has power over Mephistopheles, but he is also making aesthetic decisions as a director would in a play; he is effectively ordering the demon, as if he is an actor in a play Faustus is putting on, to change costume.

Though Mephistopheles quickly clarifies that he came of his own accord and not because of any power Faustus believes he has, Faustus persists in his delusion of power, which Mephistopheles then begins to exploit. In the next act, when Faustus expresses worry over signing a pact with the demon, Mephistopheles gives an aside, saying “I’ll fetch him somewhat to delight his mind” (2.1.82). A group of devils enters and dances, to which Faustus responds “What means this show?” Mephistopheles replies “Nothing, Faustus, but to delight thy mind withal / And to show thee what magic can perform” (2.1.83-5). Marlowe seems to have deliberately used theatrical imagery through words such as “show” and “perform” to emphasize the connection between theater and the relationship between Faustus and the demon. In this scene, the relationship is reversed; Mephistopheles summons devils, his actors, and directs them to dance. Faustus, here, is the audience. Nonetheless, Mephistopheles explains this to Faustus in a way that keeps Faustus ignorant of this dynamic. By saying this is to show him “what magic can perform,” the demon connects this performance to the magic power Faustus believes he has. He gives Faustus a taste of what his supposed power can do, which only makes Faustus’ sense of his own power grow. When Faustus asks “But may I raise up spirits when I please,” the demon responds with “Ay, Faustus, and do greater things than these,” further implying Faustus’ role as a director here, suggesting Faustus can direct “greater things” than the spectacle he has just been audience to, while de-emphasizing his own role in directing the previous spectacle (2.1.86-7). So every time Faustus orders Mephistopheles to do anything, Faustus assumes he is the director and that the demon is the actor, which increases his belief in his own power, when the truth is that Mephistopheles is putting on this show of obedience with Faustus as his audience to keep Faustus from leaving their pact.

Even by the end of the play, Faustus is unaware of his manipulation at the hands of Mephistopheles, still unaware that he is Mephistopheles’ audience rather than his director. When, for instance, he orders Mephistopheles to summon a likeness of Helen of Troy, he consumes the demon in her likeness like a piece of media rather than controlling its actions like a director. “Here will I dwell, for heaven be in these lips / And all is dross that is not Helena,” he says, praising her beauty upon beholding her (5.1.95-6). He is enjoying yet another spectacle that the demon has produced for him. After being distracted by the demon away from his original goal of gaining knowledge, the way he orders Mephistopheles around seems less like a director controlling an actor in a play, and more like a modern day consumer flipping through TV shows and deciding which one to watch. He is making decisions, but only in regards to what sort of spectacle he wants to consume, to be an audience for. Mephistopheles tells him before summoning Helen “Faustus, this, or what else thou shalt desire / Shall be performed in twinkling of an eye” (5.1.89-90). Faustus may interpret “perform” as execution of his will, but Mephistopheles is rather putting on a performance that Faustus’ inability to detect damns him.

However, as demonstrated by Shakespeare’s The Tempest, simply being aware of the fact that one is part of an audience is not always enough to understand what is happening, or enough to give the audience any power. Prospero makes no effort to conceal the fact that the shipwrecked noblemen trapped on his island are the audience to a spectacle; this, though, does not lend any clarity to the situation or give them any advantage. For instance, when the nobles are searching the island for Ferdinand, the king’s son who has gone missing, they come across, according to the stage directions, “several strange Shapes, bringing in a banquet; they dance about it with gentle actions of salutation; and, inviting the King, & c. to eat, they depart” (Shakespeare 3.3). This vision is reminiscent Mephistopheles’ dancing demons, but the effect on the noblemen is different; while it makes Faustus feel empowered, this makes the lords feel lost and powerless. Sebastian refers to the sight as “A living drollery,” referring to it as something amusing before focusing on the strange, supernatural nature of what he just saw; this suggests that the spirits were the embodiment or personification of entertainment, or of theater (3.3). Prospero’s captive spirit Ariel promptly enters in the form of a harpy to threaten the lords, after which the “Shapes” re-enter to dance again and remove the banquet. King Alonso reacts to these events by telling his fellows “The winds did sing it to me, and the thunder, / That deep and dreadful organ-pipe, pronounced / The name of Prosper” (3.3). He puts everything in context of a performance, to which he is the audience; he listened to the singing and the organ which delivered to him the message that his enemy Prospero is on the island.

Prospero, in fact, tells Ariel “Bravely the figure of this harpy hast thou / Perform’d, my Ariel,” explicitly confirming the performative nature of his own magic; Prospero is the director while Ariel is the actor, and here the director praises the actor for a show well performed. Prospero says “My high charms work / And these mine enemies are all knit up / In their distractions; they now are in my power,” meaning that he finds his performance to have been successful; the show he put on distracted his enemies and made them vulnerable to his influence, just as a playwright or director might hope to use a play to have sway over the audience’s thoughts. Prospero does nothing to keep his audience unaware of their role as an audience, unlike Mephistopheles who makes Faustus believe he is the director by appealing to his own sense of power. But while Faustus could have gained power by realizing his true role – he would have been able to realize that the demon was manipulating him and act accordingly – the nobles’ awareness of their position grants them no power, and in fact renders them more powerless through distraction and intimidation.

At the very end of the play, in fact, Prospero directly calls attention to his own role as the plot’s director by asking the play’s audience for applause. “But release me from my bands / With the help of your good hands,” he says to the audience as part of his final monologue. The final words he speaks are “As you from crimes would pardon’d be / Let your indulgence set me free” which, being the end of the play, is the moment right before the audience would applaud anyway (Epilogue). Prospero, then switches from manipulating the figurative audience of the noblemen to breaking the fourth wall between himself and the literal audience watching his character being represented by an actor; he takes advantage of the nature of the theater to seemingly exercise power over the audience to receive the applause he needs; the audience is aware of the fact that they are an audience and as such, applause is customary. Especially at the end of the play, there is no reason for him conceal his nature as the director of the play’s plot; now that he has everything he had been working to achieve, no harm will come from revealing his methods.

The playwrights’ differing approaches to power dynamics in their plays parallels their own views of theater. Marlowe represents Mephistopheles as a crafty and deceptive director figure manipulating an audience unaware of its own role or of what is being done to it; this can represent Marlowe himself, who wrote a deceptively simple play whose complexities the audience may not initially be aware of. Marlowe chose to use a medieval folktale to write a seemingly anachronistic “morality play” with an apparently Christian message. His play, however, can be interpreted as actually being critical of contemporary theology such as the Calvinist theory of predestination. While not trying to literally damn his audience as Mephistopheles does to Faustus, he does use the deceptively simple nature of his play to prompt his audience into questioning some of their beliefs about religion. Shakespeare, on the other hand, does not seem to have much to hide; by calling more explicit attention to the nature of performance within his play, commenting on theater itself may have been his original goal. Since this is one of his final plays, he seems to be reflecting on his own role as a playwright before directly saying goodbye to his audience at the end and asking for a final round of applause which will set him free.

Works Cited

Marlowe, Christopher. “Doctor Faustus.” Doctor Faustus and Other Plays, edited by Michael Cordner, Oxford World’s Classics, 1998, 138-183.

Shakespeare, William. “The Tempest.” The Tech, 1993. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, http://shakespeare.mit.edu/tempest/full.html

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188

Equivocality in “Doctor Faustus” by Christopher Marlowe

November 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

Throughout Marlowe’s play Doctor Faustus, the themes of sin, damnation and redemption are presented somewhat ambiguously. The key focus of this ambiguity, is the identification of Faustus’ point of no return with regards to the damnation of his soul. It can be argued that the play, in the spirit of the Protestant reformation, shows Faustus’ soul to be damned right from the start. Either his existence is tainted by original sin, or his fate is already predetermined by higher powers. However, it can also be argued that Faustus is actually a free agent and walks his own path to damnation, without the influence of predestination or original sin.

It is tempting to argue that Faustus is not driven by freewill, but rather he is helplessly swept along by his predetermined fate. From this viewpoint, the play takes on a heavy sense of Calvinist influence, reflecting the religious unrest of the Protestant Reformation. Indeed, the conclusion drawn by Faustus himself as he reads from the Bible has much in common with the Calvinist doctrine of predestination. Faustus exclaims “What will be, shall be? Divinity Adieu!”[1], expressing his belief that no matter how much the Bible is studied or followed, nothing we do can change the predetermined fate of our souls. This is reminiscent of John Calvin’s belief that “all are not created in equal condition; rather, eternal life is fore-ordained for some, eternal damnation for others.”[2] In other words, earthly actions are irrelevant as the fate of our souls is set in stone right from conception. Therefore, when reading the play from a Calvinist perspective, the point at which Faustus’ soul is irrevocably damned occurs long before the play, right from the moment Faustus came into being. Lisa Hopkins highlights the Calvinist priority of predestination over freewill by stating that “From a Calvinist point of view, Faustus, if he is damned at the end, must automatically have been damned from the very beginning of the play, and never had any meaningful choice”[3]. This could be interpreted to mean that Faustus was forced into his sinful choices by a predetermined fate, or to mean that his actions were completely obsolete as he would have burned in hell regardless of what he did or didn’t do. Faustus questions whether or not he really controls, or even owns, his soul as he hands it over to the devil. He says “Faustus gives to thee his soul. O, there it stayed! Why shouldst thou not? Is not thy soul thine own?”[4]. From a Calvinist perspective, the answer to his question is essentially, no. His soul belongs to God, as does the control over its fate.

From a similar standpoint, the damnation of Faustus’ soul, along with the souls of all damned men, can be viewed as a result of mankind’s original sin. In other words, his soul is born damned and with an inevitable inclination towards sin, and can only be saved by trusting in Jesus Christ himself. This is fitting with Lutheran theology and further reflects the Protestant reformation of the time. Martin Luther himself stated that “We are sinners because we are the sons of a sinner. A sinner can beget only a sinner, who is like him”[5]. From this angle, Faustus is once again damned from before the play begins, not because it is predestined, but because all men are born tainted by the betrayal of Adam. Sin is deemed hereditary, and not a product of freely making bad choices. Therefore, only faith can save man from a state of sin, regardless of good or bad deeds.. The key difference between viewing the play from a Lutheran viewpoint, and viewing it from a Calvinist viewpoint, is that while Faustus’ soul is technically damned from birth, it is not beyond salvation until the very end, as he can find salvation through opening his soul to divine grace. Unfortunately for Faustus, he does not, and so remains damned. Faustus’ constant choice of the devil over God, and adherence to the bad angel’s words over the good angel’s words supports the idea of human nature being inherently sinful. Indeed, even when Faustus considers seeking salvation, he is easily drawn back into the devil’s deal by a distracting show of the seven deadly sins. He says that the show would be “pleasing unto [him], As paradise was to Adam”[6]. This reference to Adam, the supposed catalyst of mankind’s original sin, suggests that he is drawn to forbidden deeds just as his first ancestor was drawn to the forbidden apple. In addition, both Faustus and Adam are ultimately seduced by the devil’s promises, suggesting that sin is indeed in the nature of all men.

However, although Faustus clearly believes himself to be a victim of either his own inherently sinful nature, or of the predetermined damnation of his soul, it is less clear whether or not his belief is correct. Overall, Faustus seems to seal his own fate as he refuses to repent in spite of the good angel’s insistence. Just as the evil angel can be seen as a symbol for original corruption and tendency towards sin, the good angel can be seen to represent a chance for redemption or for man to reject sin in favour of good actions. The two angels show man not as an inherently corrupt being, but as a being with free choice over the kind of person he wants to be. Faustus, of course, chooses to turn to a life of sin, showing himself to be potentially corruptible, but not inevitably corruptible. It is his own choices which ultimately lead him to damnation. Jamey Heit highlights this as he argues that the play is a “classic literary portrayal of free will in the face of temptation from the devil…[Faustus] choose[s] evil over good and literally sell[s] [his] soul to the devil in exchange for knowledge and wealth”[7]. Of course this could also support the argument that the play is influenced by Adamic original sin as, like Adam before him who’s “freedom of choice led to original sin”[8], Faustus gives into his inner human corruption. Overall though, the argument of Faustus being driven by original sin is weaker than the idea that he simply makes bad choices as an individual.

When viewing the play from the standpoint of Faustus’s own actions leading to his downfall, it is debatable which of these actions in particular serves as the point of no return. The notable point of his resignation to sin is when he sells his soul to the devil at the start of the play. Indeed, this sin can be deemed to be a complete rejection and betrayal of God and the point at which his fate is sealed. The action of literally signing his soul over to the devil can be seen as being metaphoric of Faustus resigning his soul to hell through his sinful thirst for knowledge, money and power. Towards the start of the play, as the scholars discuss Faustus’ decision to sell his soul, the first scholar indeed supports the notion that his soul is damned by his decision to make a pact with the devil. He pessimistically states “I fear me nothing will reclaim him now”[9], undermining the chance of redemption from sin. David Bevington highlights that Faustus freely chooses this life of sin, as he states that “Faustus is, like Adam, fully informed of the consequences of his choice”[10]. In this light, Faustus is entirely to blame for his own damnation as he is completely aware of what he is doing, and what it means for his soul, but he does it anyway. He is not tricked or forced into anything he is unwilling to do, he is simply willingly seduced by materialistic promises. David K Anderson backs up this notion as he points out that “Mephistopheles cannot be accused of sugar-coating the truth or entrapment when he answers Faustus’ questions about hell in the first act” [11]. Indeed, the demon makes it clear that Faustus will pay with great suffering when he dies, as when asked why the devil wants Faustus’ soul, he responds by saying “Solamen miseris socios habuisse doloris”[12]. This Latin phase can be translated to the English phrase misery loves company. In other words, if the devil has to burn in hell for eternity, he wants as many souls as possible to burn with him. Therefore, it is strongly possible that this is Faustus’ point of no return, as his fully informed, and completely blasphemous choice of Satan over God leaves his soul without chance of redemption. Furthermore, the imagery of a contract signed with blood can be seen to symbolise Faustus’ entry into damnation which he cannot retreat from. Contracts are, in nature, legally binding, regardless of whether one party later changes their mind. On this basis it can be argued that this one should be seen as no different. Another notable possibility of Faustus’ point of no return is when he kisses the she devil Helen. Here he is not only committing lust, he is also allowing evil to taint not only his soul, but his body too. The imagery of her “lips suck[ing] forth [his] soul”[13] suggests that this liaison with a demon is breaking point for Faustus’ chance at saving his soul.

Alternatively, it can be argued that Faustus’ true point of no return does not occur until he despairs of salvation. From this viewpoint, redemption is always right there for the taking, right up until his final soliloquy as Mephistopheles and the other devils are coming for his soul. From this viewpoint, the power of God outweighs the power of evil, as Christian salvation can break even the most binding of demonic pacts. Bruce E. Brandt highlights that “those who see Faustus as free to repent rely on the assertions of the good angel and the Old Man that grace is available if Faustus repents”[14]. Indeed, all along Faustus is assured that he can still choose God, and it’s not too late to save himself. As the evil angel constantly attempts to legitimize Faustus’ decision to sell his soul, the good angel constantly disputes it. David K Anderson supports this as he argues that “Faustus is continually being told by the good angel that forgiveness is his for the asking, while the consequences of not being forgiven are perfectly plain”[15]. Indeed, the good angel beseeches Faustus to pursue salvation saying ““Faustus, repent; yet God will pity thee”[16]. His answer to the good angels pleas are simply “My heart is hardened; I cannot repent. Scarce can I name salvation, faith, or heaven”[17]. Here, Faustus convinces himself that his hand is being forced by predestination or original sin, rather than admit that he has freely made bad choices and ignored his chances for redemption. This is similar to his thoughts when he decides to sell his soul to Mephistopheles in the first place, that he is damned anyway so he may as well gain a lifetime enhanced by demonic servitude in return. Ultimately he does beg for mercy in the last moments of his life, but by then he has already completely despaired of salvation, as he tells the scholars “Faustus’ offence can ne’er be pardoned: the serpent that tempted eve may be saved, but not Faustus”[18].

Therefore, in conclusion, Faustus’ soul is not damned before the play begins, much less before his own birth. It is, however, his belief that his damnation is inevitable which informs his sinful choices. Indeed, as David Wooten states, “Some scholars read Doctor Faustus as representing a peculiarly Calvinist anxiety in which fear that one is predestined to damnation leads to despair”[19]. Faustus’ soul is not truly damned until the last few moments of the play, as instead of truly asking God for forgiveness, he begs instead for his soul to “be chang’d into little water-drops, and fall into the ocean, ne’er to be found”[20]. At this point, he has completely despaired of salvation, and this is truly the point of no return as he has run out of time to repent. His belief that his damnation is inevitable serves as his hamartia throughout the play as, ironically, it ultimately drives him to damn himself.

Bibliography

ANDERSON, David K. Martyrs and Players in Early Modern England: Tragedy, Religion and Violence on Stage. Surrey: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd, 2014.

BEVINGTON, David and Ramusen, Eric, eds. Doctor Faustus. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1993.

BRANDT, Bruce E. “The Critical Backstory.” In Doctor Faustus A Critical Guide, edited by Sarah Munson Deats, 17-40. Chippenham: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2010.

CALVIN, John. Calvin’s Institutes A New Compend. Edited by Hugh Thomson Kerr. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1989.

HOPKINS, Lisa. Christopher Marlowe, Renaissance Dramatist. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2008.

LUTHER, Martin. Commentary on Romans. Translated by J. Theodore Mueller. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2003.

MARLOWE, Christopher. The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus. New York: Start Publishing LLC, [1604] 2013. Kindle Edition.

WINSTEAD, Antoinette F. “The Devil Made Me Do It! The Devil in 1960’s – 1970’s Horror Film.” In Vader, Voldemort and Other Villains: Essays on Evil in Popular Media, edited by Jamey Heit, 28 – 45. Jefferson: McFarland, 2011.

WOOTEN, David. Introduction to Doctor Faustus: With The English Faust Book, by Christopher Marlowe, xvi. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 2005.

[1] Christopher Marlowe, The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus (New York: Start Publishing LLC, [1604] 2013), Kindle Edition. [2] John Calvin, Calvin’s Institutes: A New Compend, ed. Hugh Thomson Kerr (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1989), 114. [3] Lisa Hopkins, Christopher Marlowe, Renaissance Dramatist (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2008), 31. [4] Marlowe, The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus. [5] Martin Luther, Commentary on Romans, trans. J. Theodore Mueller (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2003), 95. [6] Marlowe, The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus. [7] Antoinette F. Winstead, “The Devil Made Me Do It! The Devil in 1960’s – 1970’s Horror Film”, in Vader, Voldemort and Other Villains: Essays on Evil in Popular Media, ed. Jamey Heit (Jefferson: McFarland, 2011), 32. [8] Antoinette F. Winstead, “The Devil Made Me Do It! The Devil in 1960’s – 1970’s Horror Film”, in Vader, Voldemort and Other Villains: Essays on Evil in Popular Media, ed. Jamey Heit (Jefferson: McFarland, 2011), 32. [9] Marlowe, The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus. [10] David Bevington and Eric Ramuson, eds., Doctor Faustus (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1993), 20. [11] Professor David K Anderson, Martyrs and Players in Early Modern England: Tragedy, Religion and Violence on Stage (Surrey: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd, 2014), 171. [12] Marlowe, The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus. [13] Marlowe, The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus. [14] Bruce E. Brandt, “The Critical Backstory”, in Doctor Faustus A Critical Guide, ed. Sarah Munson Deats (Chippenham: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2010), 32. [15] Professor David K Anderson, Martyrs and Players in Early Modern England: Tragedy, Religion and Violence on Stage (Surrey: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd, 2014), 171. [16] Marlowe, The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus. [17] Marlowe, The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus. [18] Marlowe, The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus. [19] David Wooten, introduction to Doctor Faustus: With The English Faust Book, by Christopher Marlowe (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 2005), xvi. [20] Marlowe, The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus.

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103

Marlowe’s the Jew of Malta and Doctor Faustus: Interconnection Between Corruption and Religion

November 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

“Religion hides many mischiefs from suspicion” (I, ii, 279-280)

Religion, as Barabas describes in this quotation from The Jew of Malta, acts as a measure in defending one’s actions as moral or just. Christopher Marlowe presents this use of religion in Doctor Faustus and The Jew of Malta. The protagonists in both plays believe in an idea about the nature of religion similar to Marlowe’s own uncertainty. Marlowe’s study of divinity contradicts with his encouragement of atheism in his life and his double life as a spy. This struggle for religions’ role in society and politics appears in the characters of Dr. Faustus and Barabas. In Doctor Faustus and The Jew of Malta, the protagonists justify their corruption and actions against societal laws through religion.

The character of Dr. Faustus exhibits a knowledge Francis Bacon describes as “proud knowledge of good and evil, with an intent in man to give law unto himself and to depend no more upon God’s commandments which was the form of temptation” (Bacon 7). Bacon believes that it is not the quantity of knowledge that destroys humans, but the unhealthy aim of challenging God. Faustus encounters Bacon’s destructive aim with his divine ambitions. He blames religious limitations that Bacon stresses for his lack of spiritual understanding. He refuses to recognize these limitations given by God, and therefore he forms an alliance with the evil spirit Lucifer. Faustus trades his soul for knowledge as well as the desire to “give law unto himself.” He supports this decision by the lack in reconciliation between intellectual ambition and religion. Faustus desires to “Be thou on earth as Jove is in the sky, / Lord and commander of these elements” (i, 76-77). This reinforces his rejection of divine limitations as well as his problematic aims for knowledge.

Like Marlowe, Faustus is a man aware of scholastic theology. He wants to go beyond human capabilities and pursue a divine, supernatural understanding of the universe. Lucifer and Mephastophilis represent another blame for Faustus’ downfall. Faustus uses this pact in order to explain his desire to know all answers to theological questions. “How am I glutted with conceit of this! / Shall I make spirits fetch me what I please. / Resolve me of all ambiguities” (i, 78-80). The diabolical characters mast the evilness of divine control, placing the decision to overpower God as an action these sprits bring upon the protagonist. Faustus excuses the use of to play God because the devil gives him this desire. Faustus uses magic to access information and creates his own universal laws. He flaunts his magic to gain control of his audience, impressing them with his conjurations of powerful figures in history. This magic oversteps human boundaries and proves that he attempts to become divine. The impression of other’s through his powers fades when his damnation reveals selfish intentions and pride over God.

All humans must balance these intellectual expectations with their beliefs. Marlowe shows this common struggle in the contrast between the Scholars and Dr. Faustus. The Scholars represent participation in positive scholarly learning which respects the laws of society and nature without religious manipulation. When Faustus begins abusing his magic, the Scholars comment on his situation.

Were he a stranger,

and not allied to me, yet should I grieve for him.

But come, let us go and inform the Rector,

and see if he by his grave counsel can reclaim him (ii, 33-35).

This comment resembles Bacon’s view towards scholasticism and religion:

God has framed the mind of man as a mirror or glass capable of the image of the universal world and joyful to receive the impression thereof, as the eye delights to receive light, and not only delighted in beholding the variety of things and vicissitude of times, but raised also to find out and discern the ordinances and decrees which throughout all those changes are infallibly observed (Bacon 7).

Bacon explains the necessity of healthy intellectual ambitions, and he also cautions about the abuse of learning to become divine. Marlowe addresses scholasticism in the same way with the Scholars. They understand the influence of God in their quest for knowledge, contrary to Faustus. The Scholars concern for Faustus shows the greatness in their understanding of the world. They observe the Faustus’ magic and predict the end result of his demise. This prophetic commentary and desire to save Faustus reappears towards the end of the play, at a time closer to Faustus’ death. “Yet Faustus, look up to heaven; / remember God’s mercies are infinite /…Yet Faustus, call on God” (xiii, 13-14, 27). Marlowe contrasts the Scholars aims at knowledge with Faustus’ in order to show the corrupt measures Faustus takes in the name of religion in order to advance his knowledge.

Faustus rejects more than intellectual limitations brought about by religion. He uses the mixed messages and internal conflicts that arise in Protestantism to justify his continuation to follow Lucifer. Faustus goes through a superficial conflict to find the true nature of repentance. He contends with a Good and Bad Angel in a debate between the desire for repentance and his unavoidable damnation. His dilemma serves to prove that his motivations do not go against God entirely. This tricks the readers into believing that Faustus’ move towards salvation is honest, but the spirit Lucifer holds him back. However, it is his personal decision to remain connected to the devil, and he only wants to invoke the audience’s pity by blaming Lucifer. In addition, Faustus believes the confusion in Protestant theology offers reason for rejecting God’s grace. The Good Angel argues one aspect of Protestantism, presenting a merciful God who will save Faustus if he repents. The Bad Angel, on the other hand, believes that Faustus’ transition into a spiritual, magical power eliminates any chance at forgiveness. These dueling ideas culminate in Faustus seeming frustration as he confronts this dilemma between the Angels.

My heart’s so hardened I cannot repent!

Scarce can I name salvation, faith, or heaven,

But fearful echoes thunders in mine ears,

‘Faustus, thou art damned’; then swords and knives,

Poison, guns, halter, and envenomed steel,

Are laid before me to dispatch myself:

And long ere this I should have slain myself,

Had not sweet pleasure conquered deep despair…

I am resolved! Faustus shall ne’er repent (v, 194-201, 208).

This conflict with Protestant religion continues through the character of the Old Man:

By which sweet path thou may’st attain the goal

That shall conduct thee to celestial rest.

Break heart, drop blood, and mingle it with tears,

Tears falling from repentant heaviness

Of thy most vile and loathsome filthiness,

The stench whereof corrupts the inward soul

With such flagitious crimes of heinous sins,

As no commiseration may expel;

But mercy, Faustus, of they savior sweet,

Whose blood alone must wash away they guilt (xii, 28-37).

The Old Man’s language provides two contradicting messages. He straddles on two different Protestant ideas about redemption. He begins by valuing God’s mercy and Faustus’ chance at forgiveness. He moves to violent language about the corruption Faustus embodies, arguing little hope in Faustus’ salvation. The contradiction continues when he acknowledges the involvement of human will in proactively seeking God’s grace, a commendation of Faustus’ apparent desire to repent, but he then states that mercy might not be possible. Faustus blames this theological confusion for his spiritual and physical death. He cannot repent while Christian messages compete and vary. The Scholars’ belief in prayer and repentance alongside the Old Man’s confusion about God’s wrath pushes Faustus further into the magical world and makes his attempt to conquer the divine more powerful. The only character he encounters with fortifying beliefs is Lucifer who never strays from his pact. The character Mephastophilis, however, represents what Faustus becomes after death.

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,

Am not tormented with ten thousand hells

In being deprived of everlasting bliss!

O Faustus, leave these frivolous demands,

Which strike a terror to my fainting soul (iii, 77-83).

Like Faustus, the character Mephastophilis refuses to accept God’s power. While mortal, he participates in the inner struggle common to mankind. The reader finds glimpses of remorse in his warnings to Faustus. He embarks on an evil, magical quest for knowledge. Mephastophilis’ refusal to repent transforms him into an unhappy spirit cast away from heaven. Faustus does not listen to the warning, and therefore will never be satisfied with his magical abilities but will rest eternally in the torments of hell.

Cleanth Brooks argues that “Faustus does learn something in the course of the play and in learning it suffers change and becomes a different man” (Brooks 105). The way Faustus plays around with the nature of repentance in the text contradicts the idea that he changes in an intellectual way. He remains a hypocritical character, deceptively struggling with repentance only to use religious problems to justify transformation to a magical spirit. For example, Faustus fears repentance because of God’s possible rejection. However, he then uses repentance as a threat to Mephastophilis. This questions the sincerity of Faustus’ desire to pursue God and end his devotion to Lucifer. “When I behold the heavens, then I repent / And curse thee, wicked Mephastophilis, / Because thou hast deprived me of these joys” (v, 177-179). Faustus’ attempts at reconciliation with repentance are not believable struggles, only artificial words spoken in situations beneficial to his justification of gaining supernatural powers. Another irony occurs with Faustus’ dedication to Lucifer.

Belzebub,

To whom Faustus doth dedicate himself.

This word damnation terrifies not him,

For he confounds hell in Elysium:

His ghost be with the old philosophers (iii, 57-61).

Faustus claims loyalty to Lucifer; however he aims to be over all spirits, including the devil.

The protagonist in The Jew of Malta also abuses religious ideas in order to reclaim and access power. The play opens with the self-characterization of Barabas as a Jew. His Jewish faith acts as a reason for his abundant wealth. It defines his status and societal ambition as “Blessings promis’d to the Jewes” (I, I, 102) yet “come not to be Kings” (I, I, 126). This proud declaration of Jewish heritage contradicts with a later message after he loses his property:

My gold, my gold, and all my wealth is gone.

You partiall heavens, have I deserv’d this plague?

What will you this oppose me, lucklesse starres,

To make me desperate in my poverty? (I, ii, 256-259).

The association with the divine makes Barabas appear as a devout and aware member of the Jewish community. This shows in greater detail after the Government imposes its taxation policy on the Jews. David Bevington supports the falsity of Barabas’ religious justification: Readers are “suddenly faced with the irony of finding Barabas the sympathetic victim of Christian treachery…Barabas’ defense becomes, by a curious inversion, the pleading of a wronged, sensitive, and helpless person” (Bevington 36).

Marlowe offers early clues to Barabas’ deceptive nature, casting doubt on the sincerity of his religious justifications for justice and power. His self-definition as a Jew juxtaposes with his selfish obsession over wealth. “Nay, let ’em combat, conquer, and kill all, / So they spare me, my daughter, and my wealth” (I, I, 149-150). He displays indifferent feelings for the state of Malta, and his only unvarying passion throughout the play rests in his wealth. The fact that he opens the play with evil thoughts makes his religious motivations for reclamation of power unbelievable. In addition, Barabas admits committing crimes against non-Christians. “As for my selfe, I walke abroad a nights / And kill sicke people groaning under walls: / Sometimes I goe about and poyson wells” (II, iii, 175-177). He hates “invalids, orphans, and helpless persons without distinction of sect or nationality” (Bevington 38). Furthermore, his abuse of the law, and evil upon others, is present before he claims Christian prejudice against Jews as justification for violence and revenge.

Despite his earlier life of greed and crime, the play focuses primarily on Barabas’ problematic interaction with Christians. This begins with a confrontation between the Governor and Barabas which incites a vengeful wrath for the remainder of the play. This situation portrays Barabas as the sympathetic character mentioned earlier due to the cruelty the Governor, as a Christian, inflicts on the Jew.

No, Jew, like infidels.

For through our suffrance of your hateful lives,

Who stand accursed in the sight of heaven,

These taxes and afflictions are befal’ne,

And therefore we are determined (I, ii, 63-65).

This scene offers Barabas several religious reasons to avenge his power and pride. The Christian-influenced Government follows the idea that one’s religion defines their character; therefore they justify their taxation of the Jews by their historical treatment of Christians, mainly the persecution of Jesus. The hateful action against the Jews shows their political usage of faith. They accuse Barabas of coveting wealth, yet they exhibit thievery.

How ironically the Governor is making the theft, not just of Barabas’ goods but also of scriptural sanctions, the ground of his religion, and how powerfully Barabas can hurl the charge in these Christians’ faces for their unrighteous dealings (Cutts 154).

In addition, these Christians are guilty of another religious abuse: threatening baptism to the Jews as punishment. This places an even greater negativity towards the value of Christian religion at this point in the play.

Barabas uses the Christian treatment of Jews as an excuse for his destructive actions. He sinks to the motivations of the Governor as Barabas exhibits the same malice towards them that he uses earlier to describe Christians in general. This initial injustice he experiences “provides an understandable motivation for the Jew’s hate and his subsequent deeds of revenge. He is put in a position of having to fight back, so that his misanthropic behavior is made plausible” (Bevington 37). The first act of destructive deception Barabas participates in occurs with the encouragement towards Abigail to feign interest in the convent life. He does this for his own personal gain because he has hidden money in his seized home and wants Abigail to retrieve the wealth. “But stay, what starre shines yonder in the East? / The Loadstarre of my life, if Abigall” (II, I, 41-42). This quote comments about the confusion surrounding religious sincerity in the play. Here, Barabas compares Abigail to an eastern star. The star symbol represents the arrival of Christ, or a savior figure. Abigail’s reclamation of her father’s wealth acts as Barabas’ salvation. The idea that his own progeny saves his world gives Barabas a haunting association with a divine power. This is ironic considering that, as a Jew, he does not follow the New Testament idea of the bright star connected to the arrival of Christ the savior.

“We Jewes can faune like Spaniels when we please / And when we grin we bite, yet our looks / as innocent and harmlesse as a lambes” (II, iii, 20-22). Barabas uses trickery and deception to destroy other’s lives. He reaffirms that his actions are cursed by his Jewish faith. His destruction of Lodowicke and Mathias hurts not only the Christian Governor, but Abigail as well, and further develops Barabas as a man who claims to attack Christianity but proves to act out of selfish motivations for power and control.

First be though voyd of these affections,

Compassion, love, vaine hope, and heartless feare,

Be mov’d at nothing

see thou pity none,

But to thy selfe smile when the Christians moane (II, iii, 170-174).

The heartlessness of Barabas shines through when he places two suitors of Abigail, Lodowicke and Mathias, against each other. He grants each of these men his blessing in their courting of Abigail, deceiving them with his innocent and lamb-like looks. His bite lies in his crafty involvement in the situational murder of the men. He reaffirms the necessity of their deaths as retaliation against the Christian Governor’s unfair policies. Lodowicke and Mathias embody the attitude of love despite religious convictions or wealth. “‘Tis not they wealth, but her esteeme, / Yet crave I thy consent” (II, iii, 299-300). This concept is foreign to Barabas who lives only for his self-gain. “But I have sworne to frustrate both their hopes, / And be reveng’d upon the-Governor” (II, iii, 144-145).

The process (of evil) does not logically unfold, but elaborates and intensifies by repeated example…Each succeeding incident becomes more ludicrous and more widely improbable then the one before, as the reign of the pure vice becomes increasingly separated from its original motive (Bevington 41).

At the end of the play, Barabas loses the foundation of his argument that associates Christians with his necessary violence. He succeeds in murdering Lodowicke, Mathias, Abigail, two friars, and countless nuns, all innocent victims, uninvolved in the taxation conflict. The separation from the motive that Bevington describes culminates in the artificial alliance with Calymath, a Turkish invader.

Now as for Calymath and his consorts,

Here have I made a dainty Gallry,

the floor whereof, this Cable being cut,

doth fall asundr; so that it doth sinke

Into a deepe pit past recovery (V, v, 32-36).

Barabas befriends Calymath in order to overthrow the Governor and usurp control over Malta. However, he turns against Calymath, and places a deadly trap in his path. The plan fails as the Governor warns Calymath and Barabas falls victim to his own trap, burying himself in a fiery cauldron.

Marlowe incorporates a wide variety of characters in The Jew of Malta. Although he focuses on the abuse of religion in Barabas, other characters display hypocritical beliefs. For example, the Friar’s response to Abigail’s upcoming death is absurd in relation to importance in Nun’s chastity: “I, and a Virgin too, that grieves me most” (III, vi, 41). All the characters exhibit base natures, regardless of their occupations, faith, or amount of power. Marlowe believes that religion has little priority in defining a person. Each person is the same, base human being. He equates the low and the high in order to eliminate stereotypical judgments based on morality and religion. He finds problems in societal hierarchy in the world. This is also evident in Doctor Faustus. Faustus tries to deny his natural limitations in order to prove to himself that he is above human and divine. Marlowe extinguishes the two protagonists in flames to warn against the dangers of seeking power. These plays help Marlowe reconcile his own fallibility in life, as he struggles for religions’ role in academia as well as in political and social life.

Works Cited

Bacon, Francis. “The First Book of Francis Bacon of the Proficience and Advancement of Learning Divine and Human.” Selected Philosophical Works. Ed. Rose-Mary Sargent. Hackett Publishing Company, Inc.: Indianapolis, Indiana, 1999.

Bevington , David . “The Jew of Malta.” Modern Critical Views: Christopher

Marlowe. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House, 1986. 31-44.

Brooks, Cleanth. “The Unity of Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus.” Modern Critical Views: Christopher Marlowe. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House, 1986. 97-108

Cutts, John P. “The Jew of Malta.” The Left Hand of God: A Critical Interpretation of the Plays of Christopher Marlowe. Haddonfield House: Haddonfield, New Jersey, 1973. 149-160.

Marlowe, Christopher. Doctor Faustus. Ed. Roma Gill. W.W. Norton and Company, Inc.: New York, 1989.

Marlowe, Christopher. “The Jew of Malta.” The Complete Works of Christopher Marlowe. Ed. Roma Gill. Clarendon Press: Oxford, 1995.

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151

Whisper of the Devil

November 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

Christopher Marlowe’s play entitled, Doctor Faustus, tells the story of a curious and ambitious man who has grown tired of focusing on all of the traditional areas of study, and wishes to learn something less known by others. Faustus is intrigued by magic, and after convincing his friends to teach him the black arts, he is able to summon a devil, known as Mephastophilis. In exchange for 24 years of servitude from this devil, Faustus is told he must sell his soul to Lucifer and face death as soon as the years have been served. Throughout the play, Faustus struggles with being overcome by his overwhelming desire to obtain knowledge of dark magic and hold power that he did not have before, while also feeling remorse and the need to repent as the Good Angel and the Bad Angel both guide him in different directions, even though the evil within him eventually wins out. As humans we are constantly torn between what is right and wrong, and overcome by both good and evil, which makes Faustus a more human-like and relatable character who grapples with choosing the right path that can eventually dictate one’s future once turning back is too late. Although the Good Angel and the Evil Angel are both physical characters within the play, they both serve to further represent the divided nature that is not only within Faustus, but within all people as the choices we make in life are guided by both our desires and our morals, while we face consequences accordingly.

In Marlowe’s play, the Good Angel often tries to steer Faustus away from being drawn to anything that could threaten his relationship with God, and his ability to seek salvation. When Faustus encourages his friends to teach him about magic and the black arts, the Good Angel tells him to “lay that damned book aside, and heap God’s heavy wrath upon thy head” (1.70-72). The moral conscience within Faustus is warning him about venturing over to the dark side, as he clearly has some reservations deep down about going through with his goal. Understanding the power of what he has unleashed, Faustus momentarily decides to quit his misdoings, as the Good Angel encourages him to “repent, yet God will pity thee” (5.188). Regardless of his thirst for dark knowledge and power beyond others, Faustus still has good that exists within him that conflicts with his immoral tendencies. When Faustus questions whether or not it is too late to return back to God and ask for forgiveness, the Good Angel assures him that it is “never too late, if [he] will repent” (5.253). Although his inclinations toward evil have drawn him in, Faustus seems to wonder if it is the right path. Faustus’ dark side may have a stronger hold on him, but his morality still questions his decisions throughout the course of the play.

Many times in the play, Faustus is intrigued by his potential to invoke evil and dark abilities, as he tries to quiet the good within him that tells him to turn back. When Faustus is deciding between selling his soul to Lucifer or reclaiming his faith in God, the Evil Angel reminds him to “think of honor and wealth” (5.21). Faustus is unsure of which path to take, but his longing for power and recognition seem to weigh more heavily than his need for salvation, although he does stop to question whether his dark deeds are worth it. Once Faustus becomes seemingly resolute in his decision to ask for God’s forgiveness, the Evil Angel demands that he “shall never repent” (5.193). Faustus is torn between which way to go, and his desires and his conscience pull him in different directions. Part of him wants to turn to God, while the other, and stronger, part of him wants to continue with what he has started. Filled with eventual regret and fear of losing God’s favor, Faustus wishes to take it all back, but the Evil Angel tells him it is “too late. If thou repent, devils shall tear thee in pieces” (5.252,254). The evil voice in Faustus’ head speaks louder than the moral one, as he ignores the doubt that he is feeling. Unsure of which way to go, Faustus stays on his dark path, which seems easier than undoing his wrongs that he may subconsciously think are too late to right as he finds himself getting caught deeper and deeper in dark endeavors. Faustus feels inside that he has gone too far, and his soul has passed the point of repentance.

Both the Good Angel and the Evil Angel in the play help to resemble the divided nature of Faustus’ mind, while also demonstrating the divided nature that is within all of us, as we struggle to decide which voice inside ourselves to listen to. As he deeply contemplates selling his soul to Lucifer in exchange for Mephastophilis’ servitude and access to his dark desires, Faustus battles with his own thoughts as he tells himself, “‘be resolute; why waverest thou? O, something soundeth in mine ears; “Abjure this magic, turn to God again’” (5. 5-7). Faustus is a relatable character in this scene as his indecision and doubt prevent him from knowing which path to choose. His desires and his morals are conflicting, as many times in life we find that what we want is not always what is good for us. The Good Angel and the Evil Angel come into the scene following Faustus’ voicing of his reservations, and both try to persuade him in different directions, resembling the divided way in which his mind guides his actions and tries to work through decisions. When reading books about the dark arts, Faustus declares to his devil, “when I behold the heavens, then I repent, and curse thee, wicked Mephastophilis, because thou hast deprived me of those joys” (5. 176-178). Faustus is deeply intrigued by the dark arts and the ability to seek out other forms of knowledge not accessible to others, but he also has a sense of goodness in his heart and a feeling of remorse as his morality sets in. The Good Angel and the Evil Angel enter into the scene again to discuss whether or not Faustus should repent, as Faustus has dark desires he wants to fulfill, but also has a fear of turning his back on God (5. 188-189). We all make decisions in life where we have conflicting voices in the back of our minds telling us what to do, and there is going to be some days where we listen to the darker one and pay the consequences, and days where the good wins out.

Despite the Good Angel of his mind telling him to turn back to God and repent, Faustus gets his consequence of eternal damnation after the 24 years of servitude have been completed by Mephastophilis. Although Faustus had many chances to undo his wrongs and look to God for forgiveness, it is hard to not feel bad for him as he finally realizes the permanence of the choice he has made. His will is divided by both good and evil, which is a realistic and human-like portrayal of a character trying to figure out which way to go, as we all have opposing forces in our heads that do not always agree. No matter how badly the evil forces in Faustus’ head cause him to wish to submit himself to Lucifer, the good side of him questions his decision constantly. People are rarely all evil, nor all good, and Faustus is a character who embodies both, as most people do.

Christopher Marlowe’s play, Doctor Faustus, successfully displays a character who embodies the divided nature and will that is within most of us. Faustus continually makes decisions based on the devil on his shoulder, but he constantly doubts himself. Whether it is his strong desire to gain power and knowledge that he seeks from selling his soul, or his fear that it is too late to turn back, Faustus stays on the path of following Lucifer, rather than looking to God for salvation, even when he faces doubts. Although the Good Angel and the Evil Angel are both physical characters in the play, they appear in scenes only when Faustus has second thoughts about submitting to the devil. These two characters further resemble and bring to the life the divided will of Faustus as their arguing lines back and forth reveal the tendency for humans to be both good and evil, as we have to choose between right and wrong to find the correct path. Faustus eventually finds himself submitted to eternal damnation, when the power of the choice that he has made brings a dark consequence.

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57

Doctor Faustus Vs Twelfth Night: High and a Low Plots

November 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

In both plays, Twelfth Night and Doctor Faustus, there exists a high and a low (or comic) plot. This plot division serves as a parallel – the actions and characters in the low plot coincide with the actions and characters in the high plot. The presence of the mirroring primary and secondary plots in the plays serves to advance the theme of the stories.

In Twelfth Night the primary, or “high” plot is the action between Olivia, Viola/ “Cesario”, Orsino, and eventually Sebastian and Antonio. The audience is reminded that the theme of the play is “mistaken identity”. We see it first in the high plot as Viola disguises herself as a man in order to become Orsino’s young page, “Cesario”. Feste, the clown in Olivia’s court allows for some comic relief, but also ironically mirrors the primary plot’s theme of disguised identity in act I, scene V, when Olivia orders him to be taken away after being unexplainably gone for a while. The clown quotes a Latin proverb, “The hood doesn’t make the monk,” that is, “Clothes don’t make the man.”

In Act two of Twelfth Night, mistaken identity (that of Viola/Cesario) is mirrored in the secondary plot when Malvolio is the butt of a practical joke orchestrated by Maria. His being fooled by the members of Olivia’s house into thinking that Olivia is in love with him, again, parallels the love triangle between Olivia, Orsino, and Cesario that is our primary focus. Malvolio follows “Olivia’s” orders in the letter to wear yellow stockings and to “go cross-gartered” and to smile constantly, and he is fooled into believing that Olivia may actually have romantic feelings toward him. The joke raises the familiar themes of confusing fluidity of identity , the illusions and delusions of love, and the importance of clothing establishing one’s identity and position. Toby and the others laugh at Malvolio’s fantasy that Olivia could possibly have any real feelings toward him because he is not of “noble” blood. This, we will remember, is of great importance if love is to be possible, for Olivia first becomes interested in “Cesario” in act I.v after discovering that he/she is a gentleman. Malvolio’s fantasy involves changing his clothing: he imagines himself “in my branched velvet gown” (II.v. 47-48), which was the clothing of a wealthy nobleman, not that of a steward. The letter from Olivia also asks him to alter his clothing, wearing yellow stockings and crossed garters and to change his personality. Thus we see the direct parallels with the central plot where Viola’s disguises herself in men’s clothes.

By Act III, the cases of mistaken identity and deception get more complicated. The first case is found in Malvolio’s supposed madness because he thinks he shares a secret understanding with Olivia, even though the strange things he does and says bewilder her. Another misunderstanding occurs in the primary plot as Cesario/Viola’s brother Sebastian and his friend Antonio arrive in Illyria and Sir Toby and Sir Andrew are left very confused as “Cesario” is called “Sebastian” when Antonio is carried off by the police. Antonio, in turn, is believed to be insane, mirroring Malvolio’s being locked away in a little dark room for being mistakenly thought to be insane.

Themes of madness and illusion are addressed in both the primary and secondary plots of Twelfth Night. The practical joke on Malvolio continues with Feste visiting him in the dark prison pretending to be a priest. Feste, the “priest”, pretends that the room is not actually dark, but is full of windows and light, and that thus Malvolio must be insane if he cannot see the light. Elsewhere, in the high plot, Sebastian is very confused, but delighted, by this adoring woman, Olivia, who is apparently in love with him. At one point, Sebastian asks, “are all the people mad”.. “Or am I mad…?”

In the final Act, the primary and secondary plots follow one another sequentially as they have throughout the former acts of the play. The concepts of misunderstanding, mistaken identity, and insanity are all resolved.

In Doctor Faustus, the function of a plot division works in much the same way as it does in Twelfth Night, that is the plot divisions parallel one another for the purpose of carrying along important themes of the play. Not only does Marlow use the plot division for advancing themes, but more importantly to remind and inform the audience of things that are noteworthy. Differently, though, the important antireligious theme in Dr. Faustus is advanced without a distinct parallel between the high and low plot. This conflict with religion can be seen in the high plot when Faustus, Cornelius and Valdes appear as an “unholy trinity,” or after Faustus signs the deed and says, “Consummatum est,” or “It is finished” – words of blasphemy as they were Christ’s final words on the cross. Another advance of the anti-religious theme exists as Faustus wavers between the good and bad angels. There are no clear-cut parallels between these instances of such an important theme. True, there are similarities, but there is not such an obvious resistance to God found in the low plot as there is in the high plot. If this were more like Twelfth Night, the clown would have lingered in indecision, mirroring Faustus’ situation with his good and bad angels, or Wagner would have said something in denial and rejection of God. This is how the two plays differ – Twelfth Night’s major themes found in the high plot always seem to be paralleled directly with the theme in the low plot.

Other themes in Dr. Faustus follow a more distinct route of parallelism. In scene III, for example, Faustus conjures Mephistophilis, whom Faustus informs that he would be willing to sell his soul to Satan in exchange for Mephistophilis’ services for the next twenty-seven years. As in Shakespeare’s play, the secondary plot parallels the high plot, in this case, as Faustus’ servant, Wagner, convinces the clown to agree to serve him for seven years in scene IV. The clown’s decision to sell his soul to the Devil for a shoulder of mutton makes the parallel between scene III and IV even clearer. The clown’s response is that he would have to have the mutton “well roasted and a good sauce to it (IV.12)” if he were to “pay so dear.” The suggestion that his soul is a very dear price to pay serves as a reminder to the audience that Faustus has just agreed to sell his soul to Lucifer.

Another important connection between the high and low plots happens when Robin the Ostler find one of Faustus’ “conjuring books,” and he and Ralph decide to try it out. Scenes VIII and IX illustrate the negative consequences of using magic as Mephistophilis turned Robin and Ralph into apes as punishment for trying to use Faustus’ book to conjure without having made any kind of “deal” to entitle them to do so. Faustus’ deal with the Devil is alluded in the low plot when Ralph asks Robin what book he has and he responds, “What book! Why, the most intolerable book for conjuring that e’er was invented by any brimstone devil (VIII.19-20). This might suggest that Robin is onto the deal Faustus has made with the devil, but more importantly, it just serves a reminder to the audience that the book actually was invented by a devil, thereby adding a bit of dramatic irony. Ralph makes another allusion to Faustus’ situation when Robin tempts him with the kitchen maid, Nan Spit: “On that condition I’ll feed thy devil with horsebread long as he lives, of free cost (VIII.30-31).” Here Ralph seems to offer a smaller version of the exchange Faustus has made.

In conclusion, in Twelfth Night and Doctor Faustus themes are moved along by the existence of parallels between the primary and secondary plots. While this occurs more prevalently in Shakespeare’s play, Marlow more strongly relies on the actions in his high/primary plot to carry along the most important theme of the play, and uses parallels between the high and low plots simply to clarify and remind the audience of smaller themes.

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167

Comparison of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and The Tragedy of Dr. Faustus

February 15, 2021 by Essay Writer

Because humans have innate tendencies to do both right and wrong, Robert Louis Stevenson’s mysterious, yet captivating novella, Jekyll and Hyde contrasts the danger of unrestrained pursuit of knowledge — observed in Dr. Jekyll’s obsession with his evil identity– with the use of knowledge in the pursuit of power as explored by Christopher Marlowe’s bold, yet insightful play, The Tragedy of Dr. Faustus — as Dr. Faustus aspires to compete with God’s might — suggesting that science, and knowledge as a whole, must be pursued in both restrain and caution. In order to gain a better interpretation of a piece of literature and its themes it can be extremely useful to compare it with another work. The juxtaposition between two works allows the reader to gain a heightened understanding of each author’s respective purpose in writing their piece. In comparing Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to Dr. Faustus the reader is able to truly understand the degree of impact that science can have on society and its people. The two works enhance each other as they depict toxic addictions to power and knowledge, the value of internal struggle, and the battle between the creator and the created.

Dr. Faustus and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde both bring up the battle between the conflict between the creator and the created. In Christopher Marlowe’s play, Dr. Faustus, the main character is constantly at war with God. Dr. Faustus rejects his assigned role in society, constantly aspiring to be more than human and achieve a god-like status. He is willing to go to extreme ends in order to grow in power in his attempt to grow stronger than his own creator, God. Dr. Faustus even goes as far as to ask the devil for help in his attempt to grow in power, almost guaranteeing his damnation. Dr. Fautus’ struggle represents a refusal to remain confined to the role assigned to humans at birth. Dr. Faustus conflicts with God because he believes that he is capable of achieving more, yet he also still fears God in some respects. Moreover, in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dr.Jekyll is at war with his creation Mr. Hyde. All throughout his novella Dr. Jekyll struggles with suppressing his creation, “Both sides of me were in dead earnest; I was no more myself when I laid aside restraint and plunged in shame, than when I laboured, in the eye of day, at the futherance of knowledge or the relief of sorrow and suffering,” (Stevenson 10). This quote reveals Dr. Jekyll’s inability to successfully inhibit his dangerous side that is Mr. Hyde. Dr. Jekyll has spent all his time pondering over a way to contain his evil creation of a separate personality, even abandoning the use of the potion that transforms him into this monster, yet when it’s all said and done this creation has already grown beyond control. This battle between the creator and created, between two sets of identities even leads the reader to become confused as to the motives of Mr. Hyde’s crimes, as Bernard O’Keefe writes in his new criticism, “Such vagueness leads the reader to speculate about the true nature of Jekyll’s hidden crimes. Even the ones we do witness seem open to interpretation,” (O’Keefe 10). Dr. Jekyll and his alternate identity have become so entangled that the degree of evil that both are capable of is hard to comprehend. Dr. Jekyll’s corruption to the cruel nature of Mr. Hyde reveals the true importance of the battle between a creation and its god; the creator will foolishly believe that he has the power over his creation, while the creation will always strive to achieve dominance over its creator. The juxtaposition between the two works, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Dr Faustus, allows the reader to understand the conflicts that can occur within a hierarchy. Dr. Faustus alludes to the religious struggle that a person of faith can endure while aspiring to achieve their own goals, while Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde alludes to the struggle of a man and an addiction in the physical world.

Furthermore, the combination of these two works is crucial in understanding the thematic idea of power. Both Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Dr. Faustus combine to create a greater understanding of the intoxifying danger that is associated with a lust for power. Through these two pieces the reader not only learns of the tendency to be addicted to power, but power’s ability to corrupt man. Power is like a drug; enjoy it enough and it will become a lifelong addiction. In Dr. Faustus, he becomes obsessed with becoming an entity even stronger than God, striving to take his necromancy to levels unheard of. Dr Faustus believes that, “A sound magician is a demigod.” (Marlowe, act 1 scene 1). Dr. Faustus believes that in sacrificing his eternal salvation, and ensuring a sentence for hell that he is able to grow stronger than any mortal or even God. Faustus is able to develop a hubris that ultimately proves to be his own demise; Faustus’ achievements in necromancy inspire his own arrogance, causing him to believe that he is untouchable, even by God. Faustus proves his arrogance when he states, “Shall I make spirits fetch me what I please?” (Marlowe 1). This conceited nature leads to his own damnation. William Hamlin, an author of historical criticism, believes that arrogance is what leads to, “Faustus’s state of imminent and irrevocable damnation, and thereby construct[ing] a superficially logical critique of Faustus’s tendency to cast doubts, to turn his thoughts toward God,” (Hamlin 7). This historical criticism alludes to Faustus’ struggle with remaining in God’s light and his internal battle which causes him to wrongly decide between intense momentary satisfaction and eternal salvation. Moreover, the reader is able to observe power’s tendency to corrupt man through Dr. Jekyll’s experiments with science. Dr. Jekyll was an upstanding citizen, revered for his hard work and status in his community. Yet his experimentation with his own evil nature led to his eventual corruption and demise. When Jekyll states, “You must suffer me to go my own dark way,” he reveals his drunken obsession with the power that his transformation into Mr. Hyde awards him. (Stevenson, 6). The reader further observes the negative effect of power through Jekyll’s actions in the book. He enjoys the liberation that the persona of Mr. Hyde brings him, leading him to continue transforming and cause damage to society. Eventually this power ascends to a level beyond both Jekyll and his science’s control, causing Hyde to consume Jekyll, leading to his death. These two works both depict the nature of a growing addiction to power. Both men in these stories pay the dire and ultimate consequences for giving into their primal urges for power. While Faustus seeks power for status, and Jekyll seeks it for liberation, there is no difference in the consequences that these two men face upon their death. These two works corroborate the idea that power leads man to evil and serve to show the reader that reaching for power can lead to things man was never supposed to discover and cause their own damnation.

Lastly, these two works combine in order to depict the nature of internal battle and strife. In both Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Dr. Faustus there are internal struggles present. Does Dr. Jekyll choose to allow his evil side take pleasure in enacting evil? Does Faustus finally find God and Repent? Each piece details the harmful effects of conflicting arguments being made in the character’s head. Dr. Faustus is plagued throughout the play between the dilemma of momentary gratification and eternal salvation. Faustus can see his power levels grow, yet he knows that in giving into this power he is straying further from God’s light. Throughout the play, Faustus has a multitude of chances to repent and seek God’s forgiveness in hopes of gaining entrance to heaven. Faustus reaches a point in the play where he believes that he is at a point of no return in respect to God’s love, “My heart is hardened; I cannot repent. Scarce can I name salvation, faith, or heaven,” (Marlowe, 2). Faustus believes that since he has strayed so far from God, he may as well indulge in the pleasure on Earth, because his damnation is inevitable. Faustus’ decision to embrace evil signifies his loss of his own internal battle, in this decision Faustus forgoes whatever good nature may be left and embraces his own evil. Dr. Jekyll faces a somewhat similar internal conflict. Yet, Jekyll’s differs from Faustus’ because Jekyll’s is a conflict between two personalities. Throughout the novella we can see an internal conflict growing within Jekyll as he attempts to appease both his good and evil personalities. Dr. Jekyll recognizes the evil that his alternate personality is capable of and yet he has a difficult time restraining from indulging in this liberating evil. However, Dr. Jekyll reaches a point in the novella where he tries to give up his evil nature, Mr. Hyde, by refraining from using the potion which transforms him. This attempt to become sober from evil fails when Jekyll states “I am the chief of sinners, I am the chief of sufferers also.” (Stevenson 6). In this quotation the reader can interpret the duality of man, as Jekyll cognitally recognizes his two sides battling at the expense of his own health. This quote also implies that Mr. Hyde has grown beyond Jekyll’s ability to control, evident when he transforms into him without even taking the potion. So while one side of Jekyll indulges in the pleasure of sin, his other side weeps in the sorrowful suffering which proceeds the sin. In fact, Kevin Mills, an author of new criticism, likens Jekyll’s transformation to the conversion of a man to christianity. Mills state that the, “continuity-in-discontinuity would later find its way into the strange, unsettling description of self-division in Jekyll and Hyde,” meaning that Jekyll is consistently struggling at the hands of his diverging identities. These two works juxtapose in order to create a heightened understanding of the theme of duality of man and the nature of conflict. As one indulges in one side of their mind, it is always at the expense of another part of them, the tradeoff always persists.

Although never explicitly explored in any of the author’s pieces, I believe it is significant and remarkable that each character endured their journeys alone, embodying the ideas of the outcast and isolation. Neither man endured their unique struggle with a companion and I believe this isolation allowed them to be further seduced by expansive knowledge and suffer the dire consequences. In conclusion, power’s ability to corrupt, the obsession with knowledge and a refusal to accept one’s role in society inspire evil all combine between the two works to truly educate the reader on the nature of their decisions in life. Evil merely a manifestation of the pursuit of related goals. One does not seek to become evil, yet while chasing something else it is possible to become evil inadvertently. The pursuit of knowledge appears to be noble, but it leads to an inevitable corruption and tragedy. The pairing of these two works allows the reader to truly understand the cliche concept that “actions have consequences.” Through the actions and fates of Faustus and Jekyll the reader is able to infer that pleasure is a temptation that one must resist in order to find eternal salvation, even at the expense of short term happiness.

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118

A Complex Character Of Dr Faustus

February 15, 2021 by Essay Writer

‘Dr Faustus is a complex character, at times his arrogance is overwhelming and at others we admire his courage but then we are moved to pity him’ – Examine how and why a critic might justify this view of Marlowe’s protagonist with reference to both modern and contemporary views.

Christopher Marlowe lived in Elizabethan England, a period firmly controlled by religion – as Queen Elizabeth I was Protestant, after her father, her country was also, and Catholicism was not permitted. To a sixteenth century audience, the prospect of dark magic or renouncing God would have been the most terrifying thing possible, as unlike today it was faith which shaped their everyday lives. Today, with a massive number of atheists and five very different main religions, it has lost much of the frightening effect it would have had on a contemporary viewer.

The first aspect of Faustus which Marlowe portrays is his overwhelming arrogance. This is seen immediately in his opening soliloquy, where he dismisses four areas of study in order to justify the dark arts to himself. Often he refers to himself in the third person, which adds to this opinion of the character, and he begins by claiming he has mastered philosophy simply by studying ‘Aristotle’s works’. Faustus continues to reject each area in turn, believing as he had studied the greatest minds of each that he has learnt all there is, or that law is ‘too servile and illiberal’ and he can only better in medicine by ‘[making] man live eternally’. Here his hubristic nature shines through, though a contemporary audience would first hear of his arrogance in the chorus. He was born ’base of stock’ yet rose and was ‘graced with doctor’s name’. In the sixteenth century, the Great Chain of Being was believed: a strict religious hierarchy set by God encompassing everything in the living world, stating each position in order. It was thought the nobility were chosen by God, as were the lowest men, and that one should not try and better their position in this chain (a view entirely contradicted by modern attitudes). The fact that Faustus has risen far above his rightful rank would instantly hint of his hubris.

Although this arrogance is prominent throughout the entire play, there are also scenes which could be interpreted as bravery on Faustus’ part. In Scene Three, upon summoning Mephastophilis, Faustus cried ‘I charge thee to return and change thy shape’. The prospect of a devil should have terrified anyone in that period (the audience would certainly have been scared) yet he commands Mephastophilis and seems unperturbed by this apparition. On one hand it suggests foolishness, on the other it commends bravery. Be the audience modern or not, the appearance of a devil would cause fear, but Faustus goes as far as to insult him: ‘thou art too ugly to attend on me’. This commanding attitude links to both his hubris and his bravery, through use of his imperative verbs, such as ‘charge’ which he repeats throughout the play. Originally, the thought of turning against God shows the same senseless bravery. People of the time were God-fearing, the thought of eternal damnation to hell was the worst possible fate, nonetheless Faustus dismisses ‘this be hell, I’ll willingly be damned here’ and ponders little on endless torment. He constantly defies God, asking ‘what god can hurt thee, Faustus?’ He turns against the most powerful force with hardly any contemplation, proving that despite being blindly arrogant, he is also a man of bravery.

Finally, there are moments where the audience could pity Faustus. These are intentionally rare, as the idea of a morality play is that those watching learn from the protagonist’s mistakes and do not follow a similar path. If they sympathised with Faustus then the effect would be lost. Instead, right from the beginning, they are taught that he is hubristic and he brings about his own destruction, despite many opportunities to repent. However, there are areas where the human side of Faustus is glimpsed and it is at these rare intervals that it is possible to pity him. One key example is when Faustus truly comprehends the trade he has made, in Scene Seven (A text) where he tells himself ‘think, Faustus, upon God’ and sends his devil away – ‘tis thou hast damned distressed Faustus’ soul: is’t not too late?’ He shows regret and realisation of his wrongs, which allow the audience to pity him, for he has finally seen the errors he had made. Marlowe allows a brief moment for Faustus to be confused and desperate to repent, calling out to Christ ‘to save distressed Faustus’ soul’. As he looks to godly powers and not to Satan’s, a contemporary audience would permit him a little sympathy for he once again searches for the righteous path. A modern audience would no doubt pity the fear and desperation also, especially when Lucifer appears to him in his ‘terrible’ form. However, like all moments to pity the protagonist, it is brief and soon swallowed by his sinful lust for power, reminding the audience not to sympathise by use of his speech on ‘[burning] his scriptures’ and ‘[slaying] his ministers’.

In conclusion, although there are moments in the play where we are moved to pity him, these are few and extremely brief, as they would contradict the teaching Marlowe intended. However, they would be more prominent to a modern audience who would not necessarily find the thought of turning away from God so impossibly terrifying (living in a world permitting atheism, which Elizabethan England would not). These aforementioned scenes of bravery could also be interpreted as arrogance, yet apparitions of devils should frighten most. The fact that Faustus shows no sign of fear, commands and makes demands of Mephastophilis is bravery in itself, even if driven by foolishness or arrogance. Finally, in Faustus’ complex character, his hubristic nature is his boldest trait. From his use of third person, to his claimed mastery of all the arts, to naming himself ‘conjuror laureate’ on his first attempt of summoning, Marlowe’s protagonist is overwhelmingly arrogant. Whether for more contemporary views such as the Great Chain of Being, or his self-conceit apparent to all, this character was created to serve a purpose for which hubris had to be his most defining feature. Faustus exists to warn the audience of the sin of pride. So to encompass each of these points in both the eyes of a modern and contemporary viewer, Faustus is unquestionably a complex character.

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224

Faustus: Alone Among Men

June 6, 2019 by Essay Writer

Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus presents a protagonist who sells his soul to the devil for god-like knowledge and power. The tension in Faustus surfaces from the protagonist’s self-damnation, for he is constantly reminded and aware of his numerous avenues to salvation. His fundamental tragedy is that he refuses his humanity. He convinces himself that, by refuting his personhood and selling his soul to the devil, he can become all knowing. Though he gains the magic promised him by the devil, he slowly becomes aware that he is now void of identity altogether. Faustus does not become less human because he has become a god; rather, he becomes less human only in that he denies his place in humanity. He removes himself from the community of man in favor of a commune of soullessness and debauchery. In fact, if conceit and foolishness are what bring about Faustus’ tragic fall, it is the forsaking of his own God-given human soul that enables the fruition of such conceit and foolishness in the first place. Without his humanity and faith to give his life meaning, Faustus is left without purpose for existence, turning to the pleasures of magic and art as substitutes for his lost personhood.In the Prologue, the Chorus explains that pride leads Faustus to discount his theology and turn to magic. Faustus’ life of fruitful scholarship has enriched him with knowledge: “Excelling all whose sweet delight disputes / In heavenly matters of theology” (18-9). Yet, Faustus finds no contentment with his studies. Though he might “heap up gold, / And be eternized for some wondrous cure” as a physician, such prospects fail to appeal to him (1.1.14-5). He says:Yet art thou still but Faustus, and a man.Wouldst thou make man to live eternally,Or, being dead, raise them to life again,Then this profession were to be esteemed. (1.1.23-6)His discontent is that he is only “a man,” bound by the laws of Earth and limited by his finite existence. His mistake, of course, is that he ignores his theology, which tells him that man’s most profound spiritual needs are answered only in Communion with God, be they knowledge of man’s origins or the miracle to, as Faustus says, “raise [the dead] to life again.” There exists, then, a division in Faustus. On the one side are the desires for knowledge present in all men. On the other side of the division lie the means by which he might gratify those desires: acceptance of his humanity and participation in God’s plan. The wall that separates these parts is constructed of his pride and foolishness.This dissection becomes more apparent when Faustus continues expressing his restlessness and desire:Ay, we must die an everlasting death.What doctrine you call this? Ché será, será,“What will be, shall be”? Divinity, adieu!These metaphysics of magiciansAnd necromantic books are heavenly,[…] Oh, what a world of profit and delight,Of power, of honor, of omnipotenceIs promised to the studious artisan!All things that move between the quiet polesShall be at my command. (1.1.48-59)This may be viewed as the exact moment Faustus refutes his faith and turns to the false promises of magic. He arrives at the conclusion that all men are fated to die by ignoring the most important tenet of his former faith–that the gift of Communion with God is everlasting life. Further, he speaks of commanding all things “that move between the quiet poles,” a hope borne from his belief that the “metaphysics of magicians / And necromantic books are heavenly.” If the books of magicians are “heavenly,” it is still impossible for those texts to be more heavenly than the gospels with which Faustus is aware. Moreover, had Faustus not denied his proper place among men, he would already be in possession of all “that move[s] between the quiet poles,” for God has granted man dominion over those earthly things. Again, it is denial of his personhood, of his place in relation to other men and God, that precedes his downfall. Once he denies God’s charity and chooses covenant with Mephistopheles instead, Faustus’ hunger for knowledge does not, as Faustus hoped, become satiated. He asks Mephistopheles a series of questions about hell and the universe, until eventually, frustrated with half-answers, he sighs, “Well, I am answered” (2.3.66). Faustus’ frustration becomes apparent:Faustus: “[…] Tell me who made the world.”Mephistopheles: “I will not.”“Sweet Mephistopheles, tell me.”“Move me not, for I will not tell thee.”“Villain, have I not bound thee to tell me anything?”“Ay, that is not against our kingdom, but thisis. Think thou on hell, Faustus, for thou art damned.”“Think, Faustus, upon God, that made the world.” (2.3.66-73)The reason, of course, that Mephistopheles cannot answer the most important questions of the universe is that the answers have meaning only with reference and respect to the human condition, as well as reverence for the purview of God. True answers to Faustus’ questions require Mephistopheles to admit that the truth lies with God, not in black magic. Faustus’ theology informs him of this fact, as he laments, “Think Faustus, upon God, that made the world.” Again, it is his pride that subdues his instinctive faith, preventing him from renouncing his devilish pact and restoring his place among men. However, this is not to say that Faustus does not have moments of doubt. On the contrary, Faustus’ instinctive faith surfaces many times throughout the span of the play. He hungers for something to compensate the loss of his spirit, and in Faustus’ most doubtful moments (moments of hope for the audience), Mephistopheles is there, offering trivial distractions and a momentary fix. As Faustus considers the Good Angel’s promise that it is “Never too late, if Faustus can repent,” Lucifer intercedes with a fanciful show of the Seven Deadly Sins (2.3.79). Though meant as a satirical distraction, their words are significant to understanding the importance of Faustus’ denunciation of his humanity:I am pride. I disdain to have any parents. […]I am covetousness, begotten of an old churl inan old leathern bag. […]I am Wrath. I had neither father nor mother. […]I am envy, begotten of a chimney sweeper and anoyster-wife. […]I am gluttony. My parents are all dead. […]I am Sloth. I was begotten on a sunny bank. (2.3.110-51)Though each sin exhibits its own individual characteristics, all of the sins share one critical attribute: each sin either has no parents or is illegitimate. They are all like Faustus in that they have been disinherited; they have either been cut off from or rebelled against their patronage. If Faustus is guilty of each of these sins at some point in the duration of his twenty-four-year covenant with the devil, then this passage suggests the cause of such sin. Faustus, in an attempt to be alone among men as a god, has found himself simply alone. Without faith in the human condition, Faustus is truly lost.Indeed, the scene with the Seven Deadly Sins marks a significant transition point in Faustus. The Sins represent the end result of lost personhood, and now, we are to see Faustus’ journey through such self-hell. Void of spiritual sustenance, he turns to sin to satisfy his hunger pains. Each event demonstrates the extent of Faustus’ loss. At the beginning of Act 3, Wagner says:Learnéd Faustus,To know the secrets of astronomyGraven in the book of Jove’s high firmament,Did mount himself to scale Olympus’ top,Being seated in a chariot burning brightDrawn by the strength of yoky dragons’ necks.He now is gone to prove cosmography,And, as I guess, will first arrive at RomeTo see the Pope and manner of his courtAnd take some part of holy Peter’s feastThat to this day is highly solemnized. (3.0.1-11)Though he has “scale[d] Olympus’ top,” the wonders of the universe fail to satisfy Faustus for very long; one must value one’s own place in the universe before the grandeur of that universe might ever be appreciated. Even before Faustus has sufficient time to rest, he wishes to go on another–probably pointless–journey. He and Mephistopheles go to “see the Pope and manner of his court / And take some part of holy Peter’s feast.” Faustus can only take “some” part of the feast because he has denied himself Communion with God. He turns, instead, to childish pranks to aggravate the Pope, who implores his Friars to “prepare a dirge to lay the fury of / this ghost” (3.1.75-6). Perhaps, for the first time since his introduction, we are now meant to see Faustus truly as a devil. He has completely forsaken his identity as a man, only to gain nothing and be left with his lesser demons and sins.It is telling that, even in moments of greatest effort, Faustus is unable to fulfill the most menial of his wishes. Nothing he can conjure is real or substantial. At the court of the Emperor, Faustus is asked to raise Alexander the Great and his paramour. Faustus replies:But if it like Your Grace, it is not in my ability to pre-sent before your eyes the true substantial bodies of those two deceased princes, which long since are consumed to dust. (4.1.45-7)He cannot raise the “substantial bodies” of the deceased princes, only their apparitions. After Faustus sells his conjured horse to the Courser, the Courser returns to Faustus:[…] I, like a venturous youth, ridhim into the deep pond at the town’s end. I was no soonerin the middle of the pond but my horse vanished away andI sat upon a bottle of hay. (4.1.146-9)The horse Faustus conjured is unreal and cannot even traverse water; the baptism was too much for Faustus’ regressing powers. The horse is unreal. Alexander is unreal. Even Faustus himself is becoming unreal, for the Horse-Courser pulls off one of Faustus’ legs. He has bargained away his real soul for something not very real at all.Faustus’ sin is at its peak in Act 5, as he foolishly tries to stave the void in his soul. The Old Man, strong in his conviction, once more attempts to save Faustus:Old Man: “Ah, stay, good Faustus, stay thy desperate steps!I see an angel hovers o’er thy head,And with a vial full of precious graceOffers to pour the same into thy soul. Then call for mercy and avoid despair.”Faustus: “Ah, my sweet friend, I feel thy wordsTo comfort my distressed soul.Leave me awhile to ponder on my sins.” (5.1.52-9)Despite this apparent hesitation, Faustus is too far gone. The minute Mephistopheles reacts (“Thou traitor, Faustus, I arrest thy soul.” 66), Faustus immediately rejects the notion of a “sweet friend” who might genuinely care to comfort his “distressed soul.” He begs Mephistopheles:Torment, sweet friend, that base and crooked ageThat durst dissuade me from thy Lucifer,With greatest torments that our hell affords. (5.1.75-7)Faustus wishes punishment for he who truly loves him; he is, at last, at the furthest possible point from salvation. He is now completely dominated by his soullessness, wishing only to avoid pain, having given up on hopes to gain knowledge and crying for Mephistopheles to grant him Helen in order to “glut the longing of [his] heart’s desire” (5.1.82).In the final scene, Faustus cries out, “Be changed into little waterdrops, / And fall into the ocean, ne’er be found” (5.2.115)! He, in his last moments, wishes to escape what he has become. He is not at all repentant, nor is he sorry. He simply wishes his identity vanished, a dramatically fitting conclusion for a man whose tragedy is rejecting his God-given identity in the first place. Rather than accept his humanity as a divine gift, he shrugged it as a burden. Faustus wished to be alone among men as a god. In the end, he was simply alone.Works CitedMarlowe, Christopher. “Doctor Faustus.” English Renaissance Drama: A Norton Anthology. Eds. David Bevington, et al. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2002. 250-85.

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277

Ending in Renaissance Tragedy

June 3, 2019 by Essay Writer

Among the various definitions of tragedy, the one most commonly proffered is: a play that treats – at the most uncompromising level – human suffering, or pathos, with death being the usual conclusion. According to Aristotle’s Poetics, the purpose of tragedy is to show how humans are at the mercy of fate, and to cleanse the audience by provoking extreme emotions of pity and terror. The tragic actions on the dramatic stage cause the audience to experience these extreme feelings that eventually causes a catharsis or release of these emotions, to reduce these passions to a healthy, balanced proportion. However, the application of this definition to Renaissance tragedy is limited as it makes two over-reaching assumptions about the play, its protagonists and the audience. First, that the death of all protagonists contributing towards the drama is tragic to an equal degree, which prompts an equal level of catharsis in the audience. Does the self-purchased death of one simultaneously learned and overly ambitious Faustus solicit the same amount of catharsis and empathy as do the ‘unnecessary’ deaths of Cordelia, Gloucester, Lear, the Duke of Castile, Horatio, and Isabel among a host of other innocent characters whose corpses litter the sets of King Lear and The Spanish Tragedy? One is left with a terrifying uncertainty – although the iniquitous die, the good die along with them. Second, and perhaps most significant, that catharsis would pour forth in the audience if the play’s dénouement – meaningful or not – contains fatal twists, surprise deaths and wide-scale massacre. Or in other words, though the play may itself may have physically ended, the repercussions of the deaths, its implied message on human fate and deeper unresolved, psychological issues that had plagued the protagonists’ minds continue to trouble audiences long after they have left the theatres. The deaths of Lear and Cordelia in King Lear confront us like a raw, fresh wound when our every instinct calls for healing and reconciliation. This problem, moreover, is as much one of philosophic order as of dramatic effect. In what sort of universe, we ask ourselves, can wasteful death follow suffering and torture? If characters such as Lear, Gloucester, and Edmund all go through a process of awakening, why then do they die? Even Iago, despite all his evil machinations, lives on to bear the fruit of his crimes. In other Shakespearean tragedies, such as Othello and Hamlet, the play ends with the reconciliation of the tragic hero and society. When Othello pleads “Speak of me as I am. Nothing extenuate, /Nor set down aught in malice,” like Hamlet and Cleopatra he seeks immortality in his reputation and in his story. It is a final attempt to reconcile himself with society and his misdeeds, moments before he stabs himself. In Romeo and Juliet, there is a feeling of hope in the final scene because the Houses of Montague and Capulet are finally at peace with each other, and will erect monuments in remembrance of the two lovers. Peace and understanding is gained from the tragedy. But in The Spanish Tragedy the only monument we see is that of a pile of dead bodies slumped behind a curtain. It is difficult at the end, for the audience to feel whether anything has been gained other than a sense of remorse and misery.In a Christian framework, even the worst deed can be forgiven through the redemptive power of Christ. Thus, however terrible Faustus’ pact with Lucifer may be, the possibility of redemption is always open to him. But each time the play offers moments in which Faustus can choose to repent, he decides to remain loyal to Lucifer rather than seek heaven. “Christ did call the thief upon the cross,” he comforts himself, referring to the New Testament story of the thief who was crucified alongside Jesus Christ, repented for his sins, and was promised a place in paradise. That he compares himself to this figure shows that Faustus assumes he can wait until the last moment and still escape hell. In other words, he wants to renounce Mephistopheles, but not just yet. One can easily anticipate that his willingness to delay will prove fatal. Only at the end of his life does Faustus desire to repent, and, in the final scene, he cries out to Christ to redeem him. But it is too late for him to repent. In creating this moment in which Faustus is still alive but incapable of being redeemed, Marlowe steps outside the Christian worldview in order to maximize the dramatic power of the final scene. Having inhabited a Christian world for the entire play, Faustus spends his final moments in a slightly different universe, where redemption is no longer possible and where certain sins can no longer be forgiven.The effect of inhabiting such an unforgiving universe before his death is however ameliorated in later versions of the text. The ending of the Doctor Faustus B text is vastly different to that of the A text. The latter simply ends with Faustus being dragged away by the devils, and a summarising epilogue. Nothing is revealed to the audience of what eventually becomes of his body. The B Text however is slightly more re-assuring. Despite his self-aggrandisement, wavering, “hair-splitting, and sophomoric misquotations of the Scriptures,” Faustus gets a sympathetic ear to listen to his agonized confession of his pact with Lucifer, and subsequently “a due burial” from the scholars. His scattered limbs are gathered by the scholars, who promise him a burial in accordance with Christian rights, “though Faustus’ end be such.” Unlike Don Andreas in The Spanish Tragedy, proper burial rites will buy Faustus a ride in Charon’s boat across the Styx to Hades. King Lear’s death, in comparison, breaks all dramatic conventions. It is perhaps one of the few tragedies in which the tragic hero dies irreconciled and indifferent to society. The last two acts of King Lear are constructed with a series of advances and repudiations of visions of hope. By choosing to set King Lear in a pre-Christian era, markedly before Christ’s redemption, Shakespeare does not allow one the comfort of knowing that all evil, however bad, can be overcome. Nature seems to be mocking Edgar’s confidence in justice, when he sees his brutally blinded father immediately after claiming that “the worst is not / So long as we can say ‘this is the worst.” In Hamlet, a play equally wrenched by a self-consuming family quarrel, Horatio bears witness to the ensuing tragedy. In the closing scene, he volunteers to go outside and narrate to the world the misfortunes that have befallen this once noble family. He will reveal all the “carnal, bloody, and unnatural acts” as well as the “accidental judgements” and “casual slaughters” so that men may learn from their mistakes. Hamlet’s audience is thus awarded with some release after this gut-wrenching tragedy. The world will be informed that Hamlet was a just man. But what will the world think of Lear? Albeit a symbolic act, no one will tell his story, and in a way, purge oneself of further adversity. Hence, a strong sense of guilt and remorse, what in truth ought to have been the burden of the remaining characters, is instead passed onto the audience to bear.But that does not seem to be happening in King Lear, The Spanish Tragedy or Doctor Faustus. Not one steps forward to offer any words of closure or perhaps a glimpse of optimism. Kyd’s decision to literally give Revenge the last word in his play reflects the thematic message of the final scenes of The Spanish Tragedy: revenge does have the last word, crowding out mercy and all other human emotions, seeking its inexorable satisfaction in an overdose bloodshed and violence. The final scene implies that Hieronimo’s action serves as the fulfillment of justice, but the blood, waste, and carnage of the penultimate scene works against this presumption, seeming to deny the possibility of justice in a world where the machinations of class and power determine the course of men’s lives.In King Lear, Edgar simply offers, “Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.” Though sensible, his comment is untimely for indeed had this maxim been observed by everyone and not just by Cordelia and Kent, perhaps the tragedy could have been averted. It is perhaps for these reasons that Tolstoy refers to the plot of King Lear to be “stupid, verbose, unnatural, unintelligible, bombastic, vulgar, tedious, and full of incredible events, ‘wild ravings’, ‘mirthless jokes’, anachronisms, irrelevancies, obscenities, worn-out stage conventions and other faults both moral and aesthetic. ” This could well have been a view shared by Nahum Tate which made him revert closer to Shakespeare’s sources, in terms of the dénouement.Texts such as Holinshed’s Chronicles, which Shakespeare had at his elbow when he wrote his history-plays, end in the reconciliation of a father whom submits his daughters to a ‘love-test’. Shakespeare’s choice therefore, to end the play in such ghoulish bloodshed can be seen as a clear attempt to point out the weakness of humankind, and the evil it is capable of. In King Lear, Shakespeare does not merely adapt his sources, he consciously makes a violent and shocking alteration to them. He converts the folk-tales of medieval literature into a more complex account, where everything is obfuscated and questionable, in a manner similar to the dénouement itself. (Hieronimo is at least partly aware, and quick to exploit the inability of audiences to comprehend such large-scale tragedies when he chooses to perform his play in a medley of foreign languages, the effect of which Balthazar rightly notes, “…this will be a mere confusion/ And hardly shall we be all understood.” )The deaths in Hamlet are curiously unrelated to the demands of the Ghost. And the latter, unlike tradition, does not return to haunt the stage at the end to revel in the deaths not in the dubiously-gained revenge. Hamlet’s decision not to kill Claudius is indeed a thoughtful mistake, a missed opportunity that would not only have ended the play in less than half the time, preventing the deaths of so many people, but would have also earned him his revenge rightfully. While Hieronimo proceeds to his last rendezvous in as an agent of death in a deliberate manner (“And princes, now behold Hieronimo, /Author and actor in this tragedy.”). Hamlet almost stumbles on his final best chance to kill Claudius as a consequence of a duel with Laertes and various plots of poison that he knew nothing of previously, so that his final act of killing is almost knee-jerk and prompted by self-defence rather than planned strategy. Unlike in Hamlet, in The Spanish Tragedy the choric Don Andreas is quick to take centre-stage and revel in the carnage. With only the promise of an afterlife presided over by Pluto and Proserpina, the dénouement has nakedly pagan overtones and no sign of completeness. Not only was Don Andreas able to destroy the lives of his enemies while they were living, but also after they are dead. In a frenzy of blood-lust, he demands and gets the authority to provide everlasting judgement for his rivals. Here, there is no end to the incessant pain – the revenge, and therefore the play, continues to perpetuity. Lorenzo has been confined eternally on Ixion’s wheel; Castile is to have his liver perpetually torn at by vultures, and Balthazar is to be hung about Chimaera’s neck.Hieronimo acknowledges the tragedian’s ‘faked endings’ when he notes:To die today, for fashioning our scene,The death of Ajax, or some Roman peer,And in a minute starting up again,Revive to please tomorrow’s audience. While a tragedy suggests a certain irreversible finality in the catastrophic events of the play – an irrevocability that is integral to the audience feeling the catharsis – at the end of the day, it is simply and subversively, a play. Dead actors rise up once more, wipe off the pig’s blood, and reappear on stage again the following day. In real terms, for the audience, it perhaps wasn’t such a ‘tragic end’ after all.Many critics have not just disapproved of the deaths of Lear and Cordelia, but have also expressed concerns with the implausibility in the plot. Among the host of ‘dramatic defects’ that Bradley points out in King Lear, the one that remains the most jarring of them all is Edmund’s long delay in telling of his ‘writ’ on the lives of Cordelia and Lear even after he is mortally wounded and has nothing to gain. Stemming from it is yet the biggest war on the senses. Albany’s most unbelievable forgetfulness (“Great thing of us forgot”) is widely seen by critics as the greatest injustice in the play. For the “loving son of Albany” (who is soon also to take up the rein of power in Britain) to overlook, albeit in the midst of Goneril and Regan’s deaths, the safety of the unwell King and Cordelia, is inexplicable. If we are to remind ourselves of Albany’s prior knowledge of Edmund’s diabolical capabilities and the latter’s arrest “on capital treason,” then to suggest that Albany did not suspect Lear and Cordelia’s lives to be in danger, makes his forgetfulness seem even more implausible. Renaissance dramatists explore the limits of human justice and leave us with doubts about any other form of justice. One may feel that the dénouements with their varying degrees of penalties are not quite fair, even though all sinners have been punished. Goneril, Regan, Balthazar, Lorenzo and their collaborators are as dead as Macbeth or Richard III, but so are Cordelia and Bel-imperia, and with them, innocence and hope for the future. No number of slain villains can alleviate the accumulated devastation. Perhaps Horatio’s fate ought to have been better than that of a low-life such as Pedringano, and perhaps Goneril and Regan ought to have remained alive in order to witness a happy reunion between Lear and Cordelia. In illustrating this unpredictable hand of justice, both human and divine, the dramatists illustrate the worst features of mankind at work, and in doing so, invite one to react and remain uncomfortable towards any suggestion of a resolution.BIBLIOGRAPHY:• Bevington, D. and Rasmussen, E.: Introduction to the OUP edition of Christopher Marlowe: Doctor Faustus and Other Plays• Bevington, D: Introduction to the MUP edition of The Spanish Tragedy• Bradbrook, M.C.; Themes and Conventions of Elizabethan Tragedy• Bradley, A.C.; Shakespearean Tragedy• Foakes, R.A.; Introduction to the Arden Shakespeare Edition of King Lear• Mack, Maynard; Actors and Redactors (1965)• Mangan, Michael; A preface to Shakespeare’s Tragedies• Orwell, George; Lear, Tolstoy and the Fool (1950)• Stampfer, J.C; The Catharsis of King Lear

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The Connection Between Religion and Corruption in Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta and Doctor Faustus

May 17, 2019 by Essay Writer

“Religion hides many mischiefs from suspicion” (I, ii, 279-280) Religion, as Barabas describes in this quotation from The Jew of Malta, acts as a measure in defending one’s actions as moral or just. Christopher Marlowe presents this use of religion in Doctor Faustus and The Jew of Malta. The protagonists in both plays believe in an idea about the nature of religion similar to Marlowe’s own uncertainty. Marlowe’s study of divinity contradicts with his encouragement of atheism in his life and his double life as a spy. This struggle for religions’ role in society and politics appears in the characters of Dr. Faustus and Barabas. In Doctor Faustus and The Jew of Malta, the protagonists justify their corruption and actions against societal laws through religion. The character of Dr. Faustus exhibits a knowledge Francis Bacon describes as “proud knowledge of good and evil, with an intent in man to give law unto himself and to depend no more upon God’s commandments which was the form of temptation” (Bacon 7). Bacon believes that it is not the quantity of knowledge that destroys humans, but the unhealthy aim of challenging God. Faustus encounters Bacon’s destructive aim with his divine ambitions. He blames religious limitations that Bacon stresses for his lack of spiritual understanding. He refuses to recognize these limitations given by God, and therefore he forms an alliance with the evil spirit Lucifer. Faustus trades his soul for knowledge as well as the desire to “give law unto himself.” He supports this decision by the lack in reconciliation between intellectual ambition and religion. Faustus desires to “Be thou on earth as Jove is in the sky, / Lord and commander of these elements” (i, 76-77). This reinforces his rejection of divine limitations as well as his problematic aims for knowledge.Like Marlowe, Faustus is a man aware of scholastic theology. He wants to go beyond human capabilities and pursue a divine, supernatural understanding of the universe. Lucifer and Mephastophilis represent another blame for Faustus’ downfall. Faustus uses this pact in order to explain his desire to know all answers to theological questions. “How am I glutted with conceit of this! / Shall I make spirits fetch me what I please. / Resolve me of all ambiguities” (i, 78-80). The diabolical characters mast the evilness of divine control, placing the decision to overpower God as an action these sprits bring upon the protagonist. Faustus excuses the use of to play God because the devil gives him this desire. Faustus uses magic to access information and creates his own universal laws. He flaunts his magic to gain control of his audience, impressing them with his conjurations of powerful figures in history. This magic oversteps human boundaries and proves that he attempts to become divine. The impression of other’s through his powers fades when his damnation reveals selfish intentions and pride over God. All humans must balance these intellectual expectations with their beliefs. Marlowe shows this common struggle in the contrast between the Scholars and Dr. Faustus. The Scholars represent participation in positive scholarly learning which respects the laws of society and nature without religious manipulation. When Faustus begins abusing his magic, the Scholars comment on his situation. Were he a stranger, and not allied to me, yet should I grieve for him.But come, let us go and inform the Rector, and see if he by his grave counsel can reclaim him (ii, 33-35). This comment resembles Bacon’s view towards scholasticism and religion:God has framed the mind of man as a mirror or glass capable of the image of the universal world and joyful to receive the impression thereof, as the eye delights to receive light, and not only delighted in beholding the variety of things and vicissitude of times, but raised also to find out and discern the ordinances and decrees which throughout all those changes are infallibly observed (Bacon 7). Bacon explains the necessity of healthy intellectual ambitions, and he also cautions about the abuse of learning to become divine. Marlowe addresses scholasticism in the same way with the Scholars. They understand the influence of God in their quest for knowledge, contrary to Faustus. The Scholars concern for Faustus shows the greatness in their understanding of the world. They observe the Faustus’ magic and predict the end result of his demise. This prophetic commentary and desire to save Faustus reappears towards the end of the play, at a time closer to Faustus’ death. “Yet Faustus, look up to heaven; / remember God’s mercies are infinite /…Yet Faustus, call on God” (xiii, 13-14, 27). Marlowe contrasts the Scholars aims at knowledge with Faustus’ in order to show the corrupt measures Faustus takes in the name of religion in order to advance his knowledge. Faustus rejects more than intellectual limitations brought about by religion. He uses the mixed messages and internal conflicts that arise in Protestantism to justify his continuation to follow Lucifer. Faustus goes through a superficial conflict to find the true nature of repentance. He contends with a Good and Bad Angel in a debate between the desire for repentance and his unavoidable damnation. His dilemma serves to prove that his motivations do not go against God entirely. This tricks the readers into believing that Faustus’ move towards salvation is honest, but the spirit Lucifer holds him back. However, it is his personal decision to remain connected to the devil, and he only wants to invoke the audience’s pity by blaming Lucifer. In addition, Faustus believes the confusion in Protestant theology offers reason for rejecting God’s grace. The Good Angel argues one aspect of Protestantism, presenting a merciful God who will save Faustus if he repents. The Bad Angel, on the other hand, believes that Faustus’ transition into a spiritual, magical power eliminates any chance at forgiveness. These dueling ideas culminate in Faustus seeming frustration as he confronts this dilemma between the Angels.My heart’s so hardened I cannot repent! Scarce can I name salvation, faith, or heaven, But fearful echoes thunders in mine ears, ‘Faustus, thou art damned’; then swords and knives, Poison, guns, halter, and envenomed steel, Are laid before me to dispatch myself: And long ere this I should have slain myself, Had not sweet pleasure conquered deep despair… I am resolved! Faustus shall ne’er repent (v, 194-201, 208). This conflict with Protestant religion continues through the character of the Old Man: By which sweet path thou may’st attain the goal That shall conduct thee to celestial rest. Break heart, drop blood, and mingle it with tears, Tears falling from repentant heaviness Of thy most vile and loathsome filthiness, The stench whereof corrupts the inward soul With such flagitious crimes of heinous sins, As no commiseration may expel; But mercy, Faustus, of they savior sweet, Whose blood alone must wash away they guilt (xii, 28-37). The Old Man’s language provides two contradicting messages. He straddles on two different Protestant ideas about redemption. He begins by valuing God’s mercy and Faustus’ chance at forgiveness. He moves to violent language about the corruption Faustus embodies, arguing little hope in Faustus’ salvation. The contradiction continues when he acknowledges the involvement of human will in proactively seeking God’s grace, a commendation of Faustus’ apparent desire to repent, but he then states that mercy might not be possible. Faustus blames this theological confusion for his spiritual and physical death. He cannot repent while Christian messages compete and vary. The Scholars’ belief in prayer and repentance alongside the Old Man’s confusion about God’s wrath pushes Faustus further into the magical world and makes his attempt to conquer the divine more powerful. The only character he encounters with fortifying beliefs is Lucifer who never strays from his pact. The character Mephastophilis, however, represents what Faustus becomes after death. 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, Am not tormented with ten thousand hells In being deprived of everlasting bliss! O Faustus, leave these frivolous demands, Which strike a terror to my fainting soul (iii, 77-83).Like Faustus, the character Mephastophilis refuses to accept God’s power. While mortal, he participates in the inner struggle common to mankind. The reader finds glimpses of remorse in his warnings to Faustus. He embarks on an evil, magical quest for knowledge. Mephastophilis’ refusal to repent transforms him into an unhappy spirit cast away from heaven. Faustus does not listen to the warning, and therefore will never be satisfied with his magical abilities but will rest eternally in the torments of hell. Cleanth Brooks argues that “Faustus does learn something in the course of the play and in learning it suffers change and becomes a different man” (Brooks 105). The way Faustus plays around with the nature of repentance in the text contradicts the idea that he changes in an intellectual way. He remains a hypocritical character, deceptively struggling with repentance only to use religious problems to justify transformation to a magical spirit. For example, Faustus fears repentance because of God’s possible rejection. However, he then uses repentance as a threat to Mephastophilis. This questions the sincerity of Faustus’ desire to pursue God and end his devotion to Lucifer. “When I behold the heavens, then I repent / And curse thee, wicked Mephastophilis, / Because thou hast deprived me of these joys” (v, 177-179). Faustus’ attempts at reconciliation with repentance are not believable struggles, only artificial words spoken in situations beneficial to his justification of gaining supernatural powers. Another irony occurs with Faustus’ dedication to Lucifer. Belzebub, To whom Faustus doth dedicate himself. This word damnation terrifies not him, For he confounds hell in Elysium: His ghost be with the old philosophers (iii, 57-61). Faustus claims loyalty to Lucifer; however he aims to be over all spirits, including the devil. The protagonist in The Jew of Malta also abuses religious ideas in order to reclaim and access power. The play opens with the self-characterization of Barabas as a Jew. His Jewish faith acts as a reason for his abundant wealth. It defines his status and societal ambition as “Blessings promis’d to the Jewes” (I, I, 102) yet “come not to be Kings” (I, I, 126). This proud declaration of Jewish heritage contradicts with a later message after he loses his property: My gold, my gold, and all my wealth is gone. You partiall heavens, have I deserv’d this plague? What will you this oppose me, lucklesse starres, To make me desperate in my poverty? (I, ii, 256-259). The association with the divine makes Barabas appear as a devout and aware member of the Jewish community. This shows in greater detail after the Government imposes its taxation policy on the Jews. David Bevington supports the falsity of Barabas’ religious justification: Readers are “suddenly faced with the irony of finding Barabas the sympathetic victim of Christian treachery…Barabas’ defense becomes, by a curious inversion, the pleading of a wronged, sensitive, and helpless person” (Bevington 36). Marlowe offers early clues to Barabas’ deceptive nature, casting doubt on the sincerity of his religious justifications for justice and power. His self-definition as a Jew juxtaposes with his selfish obsession over wealth. “Nay, let ’em combat, conquer, and kill all, / So they spare me, my daughter, and my wealth” (I, I, 149-150). He displays indifferent feelings for the state of Malta, and his only unvarying passion throughout the play rests in his wealth. The fact that he opens the play with evil thoughts makes his religious motivations for reclamation of power unbelievable. In addition, Barabas admits committing crimes against non-Christians. “As for my selfe, I walke abroad a nights / And kill sicke people groaning under walls: / Sometimes I goe about and poyson wells” (II, iii, 175-177). He hates “invalids, orphans, and helpless persons without distinction of sect or nationality” (Bevington 38). Furthermore, his abuse of the law, and evil upon others, is present before he claims Christian prejudice against Jews as justification for violence and revenge. Despite his earlier life of greed and crime, the play focuses primarily on Barabas’ problematic interaction with Christians. This begins with a confrontation between the Governor and Barabas which incites a vengeful wrath for the remainder of the play. This situation portrays Barabas as the sympathetic character mentioned earlier due to the cruelty the Governor, as a Christian, inflicts on the Jew. No, Jew, like infidels. For through our suffrance of your hateful lives, Who stand accursed in the sight of heaven, These taxes and afflictions are befal’ne, And therefore we are determined (I, ii, 63-65). This scene offers Barabas several religious reasons to avenge his power and pride. The Christian-influenced Government follows the idea that one’s religion defines their character; therefore they justify their taxation of the Jews by their historical treatment of Christians, mainly the persecution of Jesus. The hateful action against the Jews shows their political usage of faith. They accuse Barabas of coveting wealth, yet they exhibit thievery. How ironically the Governor is making the theft, not just of Barabas’ goods but also of scriptural sanctions, the ground of his religion, and how powerfully Barabas can hurl the charge in these Christians’ faces for their unrighteous dealings (Cutts 154).In addition, these Christians are guilty of another religious abuse: threatening baptism to the Jews as punishment. This places an even greater negativity towards the value of Christian religion at this point in the play. Barabas uses the Christian treatment of Jews as an excuse for his destructive actions. He sinks to the motivations of the Governor as Barabas exhibits the same malice towards them that he uses earlier to describe Christians in general. This initial injustice he experiences “provides an understandable motivation for the Jew’s hate and his subsequent deeds of revenge. He is put in a position of having to fight back, so that his misanthropic behavior is made plausible” (Bevington 37). The first act of destructive deception Barabas participates in occurs with the encouragement towards Abigail to feign interest in the convent life. He does this for his own personal gain because he has hidden money in his seized home and wants Abigail to retrieve the wealth. “But stay, what starre shines yonder in the East? / The Loadstarre of my life, if Abigall” (II, I, 41-42). This quote comments about the confusion surrounding religious sincerity in the play. Here, Barabas compares Abigail to an eastern star. The star symbol represents the arrival of Christ, or a savior figure. Abigail’s reclamation of her father’s wealth acts as Barabas’ salvation. The idea that his own progeny saves his world gives Barabas a haunting association with a divine power. This is ironic considering that, as a Jew, he does not follow the New Testament idea of the bright star connected to the arrival of Christ the savior. “We Jewes can faune like Spaniels when we please / And when we grin we bite, yet our looks / as innocent and harmlesse as a lambes” (II, iii, 20-22). Barabas uses trickery and deception to destroy other’s lives. He reaffirms that his actions are cursed by his Jewish faith. His destruction of Lodowicke and Mathias hurts not only the Christian Governor, but Abigail as well, and further develops Barabas as a man who claims to attack Christianity but proves to act out of selfish motivations for power and control. First be though voyd of these affections, Compassion, love, vaine hope, and heartless feare, Be mov’d at nothing see thou pity none, But to thy selfe smile when the Christians moane (II, iii, 170-174). The heartlessness of Barabas shines through when he places two suitors of Abigail, Lodowicke and Mathias, against each other. He grants each of these men his blessing in their courting of Abigail, deceiving them with his innocent and lamb-like looks. His bite lies in his crafty involvement in the situational murder of the men. He reaffirms the necessity of their deaths as retaliation against the Christian Governor’s unfair policies. Lodowicke and Mathias embody the attitude of love despite religious convictions or wealth. “‘Tis not they wealth, but her esteeme, / Yet crave I thy consent” (II, iii, 299-300). This concept is foreign to Barabas who lives only for his self-gain. “But I have sworne to frustrate both their hopes, / And be reveng’d upon the-Governor” (II, iii, 144-145).The process (of evil) does not logically unfold, but elaborates and intensifies by repeated example…Each succeeding incident becomes more ludicrous and more widely improbable then the one before, as the reign of the pure vice becomes increasingly separated from its original motive (Bevington 41). At the end of the play, Barabas loses the foundation of his argument that associates Christians with his necessary violence. He succeeds in murdering Lodowicke, Mathias, Abigail, two friars, and countless nuns, all innocent victims, uninvolved in the taxation conflict. The separation from the motive that Bevington describes culminates in the artificial alliance with Calymath, a Turkish invader. Now as for Calymath and his consorts, Here have I made a dainty Gallry, the floor whereof, this Cable being cut, doth fall asundr; so that it doth sinke Into a deepe pit past recovery (V, v, 32-36). Barabas befriends Calymath in order to overthrow the Governor and usurp control over Malta. However, he turns against Calymath, and places a deadly trap in his path. The plan fails as the Governor warns Calymath and Barabas falls victim to his own trap, burying himself in a fiery cauldron. Marlowe incorporates a wide variety of characters in The Jew of Malta. Although he focuses on the abuse of religion in Barabas, other characters display hypocritical beliefs. For example, the Friar’s response to Abigail’s upcoming death is absurd in relation to importance in Nun’s chastity: “I, and a Virgin too, that grieves me most” (III, vi, 41). All the characters exhibit base natures, regardless of their occupations, faith, or amount of power. Marlowe believes that religion has little priority in defining a person. Each person is the same, base human being. He equates the low and the high in order to eliminate stereotypical judgments based on morality and religion. He finds problems in societal hierarchy in the world. This is also evident in Doctor Faustus. Faustus tries to deny his natural limitations in order to prove to himself that he is above human and divine. Marlowe extinguishes the two protagonists in flames to warn against the dangers of seeking power. These plays help Marlowe reconcile his own fallibility in life, as he struggles for religions’ role in academia as well as in political and social life. Works CitedBacon, Francis. “The First Book of Francis Bacon of the Proficience and Advancement of Learning Divine and Human.” Selected Philosophical Works. Ed. Rose-Mary Sargent. Hackett Publishing Company, Inc.: Indianapolis, Indiana, 1999.Bevington , David . “The Jew of Malta.” Modern Critical Views: ChristopherMarlowe. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House, 1986. 31-44.Brooks, Cleanth. “The Unity of Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus.” Modern Critical Views: Christopher Marlowe. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House, 1986. 97-108Cutts, John P. “The Jew of Malta.” The Left Hand of God: A Critical Interpretation of the Plays of Christopher Marlowe. Haddonfield House: Haddonfield, New Jersey, 1973. 149-160.Marlowe, Christopher. Doctor Faustus. Ed. Roma Gill. W.W. Norton and Company, Inc.: New York, 1989.Marlowe, Christopher. “The Jew of Malta.” The Complete Works of Christopher Marlowe. Ed. Roma Gill. Clarendon Press: Oxford, 1995.

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