The Presentation of Kurtz and Faustus in Marlowe's Play

2024 Words9 Pages
Doctor Faustus - Analyse the extract closely. In the course of your

writing, compare and contrast the presentation of Kurtz with that of

Faustus in Marlowe's play.

Doctor Faustus: Model answer

Analyse the extract closely. In the course of your writing, compare

and contrast the presentation of Kurtz with that of Faustus in

Marlowe's play.

Initially, one could be forgiven for thinking that a novel written in

the early 2oth Century would have little in common with an Elizabethan

play yet "Heart of Darkness" and "Dr Faustus" are both the stories of

men who achieve great things using "unsound methods", methods that

ultimately condemn them. This essay will compare and contrast the

presentation of Kurtz in an extract from Conrad's "Heart of Darkness"

with that of Faustus in Marlowe's play.

From the first scene of the play Faustus is a condemned man, signing

away his soul to the Devil in return for temporal power, "This night I

conjure though I die therefore" Kurtz is also presented to us as a man

in the final stages of his life, rapidly approaching death, "Kurtz's

life was running swiftly, too, ebbing, ebbing out of his heart into

the sea of inexorable time".

Faustus is presented as a flawed character whose intellect and

ambition seal his own fate. His ambition to achieve God-like

omnipotence whilst living on Earth is made possible by his

intellectual perception of the world. In the first scene Faustus lists

the discoveries and ideas of all the great authors he has studied:

theology, philosophy, logic, medicine then law. He finds reasons to

dismiss each discipline and, although he reconsiders theology, he

ultimately disregards it because he logically believes that all human

beings must sin and die....

... middle of paper ...

...pair; but he

still seems convinced that he can win when he violently shouts that he

will "wring your heart yet" into the wilderness. Maybe, like Faustus,

Kurtz must follow the path he has chosen until its terrible end.

In conclusion, Marlow and Conrad deal with similar themes in very

different ways. Both writers present characters who use "unsound

methods" to achieve temporal power yet their approaches to

characterisation and narrative are in contrast with each other. This

can, perhaps, be largely attributed to the fact that Marlow wrote

Faustus in the early sixteenth century whilst Conrad wrote his novel

in the early twentieth century. "Dr Faustus" was intended to be

performed on stage and would have shocked an Elizabethan audience in

its atheism and the unspeakable horror of "Heart of Darkness" would

have had an equally disturbing on Conrad's readers.

    More about The Presentation of Kurtz and Faustus in Marlowe's Play

      Open Document