Parallels Between Christopher Marlowe and John Faustus

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We have all experienced that moment. That horrid moment of indecision right before you do something that just feels wrong. That pause right before it happens, where time seems to be suspended. You feel them on your shoulder – the weight of your good angel pleading you to reconsider and the weight of the bad angel, egging you on. This whole idea of the good angel and the bad angel, the divide in your consciousness between right and wrong, was born from Christopher Marlowe’s Elizabethan tragedy, Doctor Faustus. In this play, we are exposed to the image of the Renaissance overreacher, John Faustus. Like Icarus, the quintessential Greek overreacher, Faustus is a man who goes too far. Interestingly, Marlowe himself exhibits the same characteristics. The play becomes even more intriguing by examining the parallels between Marlowe and the author and his character Faustus. Both Marlowe and his alter ego, Dr. John Faustus are similar in their education, their lifestyle, and ultimately, their wasted potential.
The parallels between Marlowe and Faustus emerge far before their forays into the supernatural and the risk taking. Marlowe “enters the twenty-first century arguably the most enigmatic genius of the English Renaissance. While the enigma of Marlowe’s genius remains difficult to circumscribe, it conjures up that special relation his literary works have long been held to have with his life” (Cheney 1). From the very onset of their respective births, it is evident their early life and education are closely mirrored. Christopher Marlowe came from humble roots. His “father, John, was a shoemaker by trade and his shop was also located in the parish” (Marlowe Society). His family was “relatively poor,” but Marlowe managed to rise above his...

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