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Essay on Doctor Faustus: Dramatic Form

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Marlowe's dramatic activity comprises six brief years, from 1587 to 1593. Yet those six years produced six splendid plays. As the writer of genuine tragedy, all his works illustrated his individualistic conception of tragedy. The classical Greek conception modified by the Renaissance spirit, the conception which portrays `the struggle between the overweening soul, typically Renaissance in its insatiable ambition, and the limitations which it seeks to overcome'. Doctor Faustus was probably written in 1592, although the exact date of its composition is uncertain. The idea of an individual selling his or her soul to the devil for knowledge is an old motif attached to the historical persona of Johannes Faustus. The immediate source of Marlowe's play seems to be the anonymous German work Historia von D. Iohan Fausten of 1587, which was translated into English in 1592, and from which Marlowe lifted the bulk of the plot for his drama.

Doctor Faustus essentially follows the Greek format of tragic drama. The play starts with the chorus which is the traditional attribute of Greek plays and another important element in it is that the hero's fortune depicted in the plot must be not from misery to happiness, but on the contrary from happiness to misery and the cause of it must be not on the depravity but in some great error on his part. In other words the hero is esteemed with great heights and honour in stature at start and gradually he falls to the pit of self damnation. This produces such tragic effect which is distinguished and unique.

Marlowe's Faustus is presented in the same light. In chorus at start we are introduced to Faustus who then stood as the genius and renowned persona who `profits in divinity' and surpassed all others...


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...the play. Poetry is reflected in the passionate speeches of Faustus when he talked about the sensuous pleasure. And blank verse is used to give the dramatic expression to the poetic speeches in Faustus this remarkable presentation is found in Faustus's magnificent apostrophe to Helen; "Was this the face that launched a thousand ships,

And burnt the topless towers of Illium?..."

Like this and at other places blank verse and Poetry in the dramatic form of the play served as to give it its substance, quality and character.

On the whole Doctor Faustus as mentioned by its title `the tragic history of Faustus', it truly relates to the heroic tragedy than the morality and miracle play. Its Dramatic form is profoundly evident by its various elements as discussed above, give strength to the play which is otherwise considered to be loosely structured play.



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