Christopher Marlowe Protests: The Moral of Doctor Faustus Essay

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When Doctor Faustus was written, there was turmoil in Elizabethan society. The old medieval view made God the most important aspect of the world, while mankind and the natural world were ignored. This was giving way to the idea that mankind and the natural world were supreme. At first glance, it seems that Doctor Faustus was written with the medieval ideal in mind, however, I believe this is not so. I believe that Marlowe subscribed to the renaissance view of the world, and Doctor Faustus was intended to express Marlowe’s outrage at the consequences of seeking knowledge or thinking differently during the Elizabethan era. Marlowe rejects all previous authority just as Faustus does, and with them, Faustus rejects the ideals of the previous era. Marlowe goes as far as demonizing mainstream society through Mephistopheles. Mephistopheles, like Elizabethan society, punishes intellectuals, yet initially, Mephistopheles attempts to dissuade Faustus from reaching his goals. Faustus’s goals were shared with many humanists; however the means by which he intended to carry out his dreams were sinful. Faustus actually wanted to better himself and society (gain knowledge, re-shaping Europe etc.) yet he was punished for his lofty ideals. Marlowe himself was probably punished by the authorities for his ideas, and Doctor Faustus was written with this in mind.
Since Marlowe was oppressed by the authorities, Marlowe created Faustus, a man who rejected all previous authorities. He rejected Aristotle, Galen, Justinian and St. Jerome, essentially saying logic is pointless, medicine isn’t good enough and deciding that he dislikes the bible. With these authorities, Faustus rejected the previous era, allowing new ideas to prosper. He also mentions the a...

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...” Doctor Faustus was written to help bring about change, help usher in the new Renaissance way of thinking. Having the main character reject all previous authorities is Marlowe expressing the fact that he wants to do the same. Marlowe goes to great lengths to criticize orthodoxy yet disguises it within an orthodox ending. The fact that Marlowe was accused of being an Atheist only serves to re-enforce this theory. Instead, Doctor Faustus was written to protest the severe treatment of intellectuals and to help move away from a medieval way of thinking.

Works Cited

Somroo, A.R. "Doctor Faustus as a Renaissance Play." Scribd. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Jan. 2014. .
Marlowe, Christopher, The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus. Revised Edition Signet Classics New York, 2001. Print.

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