The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus

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“No evil dooms us hopelessly except the evil we love, and desire to continue in, and make no effort to escape from.” A rather straight forward quote from George Eliot, yet, one in which with its simplicity describes Christopher Marlowe’s The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus well. It’s not the evil which dooms us but our own lack of desire, and will to stop. That which is evil is our doom us. Written in a time when anything not of the church was considered wrong Marlowe is able to bring out the views and attitudes of the time while ascribing the human condition with its wants, and its sometimes fatal after decisions. Marlowe’s piece “The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus” is written with the human condition in mind with his use of angels and his petrels of the struggles Faustus goes through with regret and repentance

Marlowe portrays the inner struggle we go through in out attempts to rationalize and make decisions with his use of a good and evil angel. We have all seen the cartoons the two angels sitting on opposing shoulders helping one choose the right path, one leaning forwards good and the other towards evil. In the tale of Faustus Marlowe does just this. He set up the inner struggle within Faustus to choose what is at the time considered right and what is frowned upon in his desire to obtain more. He is faced with a choice stay with God or turn and get more than he could desire. It is this use that is most interesting and appropriate for the time in which it was written. In the 16th century, things were divided between good and evil. Anything that was not in line with the teachings of the church such as Faustus’s use of magic was said to be influenced by evil. Thus, by using his opposing angels, he defines the attitudes and b...

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...s of Faustus he lays out the process of decision making while adding a comical yet all too familiar line to the story. Truly the tale of Dr. Faustus is a tale of humanity and its struggles with good and evil, and the consequences that follow. Still yet it shows that even when we ourselves understand our wrongs our pride often stops us from acting to ask for forgiveness.

Works Cited

Hazlitt, William. "An exeerpt from the Lectures on the Literature of the Age of Elizabeth and Characters of Shakespear's Plays." Person, James. Literature Criticism from 1400 to 1800. Detroit: Gale Reasearch, 1993. 43-55.

Hopkins, Lisa. "Apossible source for Marlowe's pegeant of the Seven Deadly Sins." Notes and Queries 41.41 (1994): 451.

Greenblatt, Stephen. The Norton Anthology of English Literature Eighth Edition. Vol. 1. New York: W.W Norton & Company, 2005
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