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Comparing Christopher Marlow’s Doctor Faustus and William Shakespeare’s Macbeth

:: 2 Works Cited
Length: 2456 words (7 double-spaced pages)
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Desire for Knowledge and Power in Christopher Marlow’s Doctor Faustus and William Shakespeare’s Macbeth


Plays written during the Renaissance often show how an individual is shaped by that person’s deepest ambitions, such as the desire to know, to rule, or to love, and how these aspirations can lead people down dramatic paths.  Christopher Marlow’s Doctor Faustus and William Shakespeare’s Macbeth both involve noble protagonists who are portrayed as true subjects -  tragic heroes; their selfhood is defined by their ambition and the decisions that they struggle with while attempting to reach their goals.  Knowledge and power are the key objects of their desires:  Faustus’ desire is intellectual, he seeks omniscience, and Macbeth wants to rule Scotland, absolutely and unconditionally.  The desires that Faustus and Macbeth follow lead them to keep striving after more and more.  Both protagonists embark on a classic Renaissance pursuit - the consummate desire for knowledge and power, and these plays depict the tragedies that can arise from over-reaching toward those desires.  An examp...


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...on and determination to pursue what they have undertaken to the bitter end

Works Cited

Marlowe, Christopher Dr Faustus in ed. WB Worthen The Harcourt Brace Anthology of Drama, 2nd edn., Texas: Harcourt Brace 1996.

Shakespeare, William. "The Tragedy of Macbeth." Prentice Hall Literature: Timeless Voices, Timeless Themes. The British Tradition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall 1999.

Sources Consulted

"William Shakespeare." BBC Homepage. Online. Available http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/culture/shakespeare.shtml. 26 Mar. 2004.

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