Faustus: A Tragic Hero Essay

Faustus: A Tragic Hero Essay

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C.S. Lewis once said “a proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down you cannot see something that is above you.” In Christopher Marlowe's most famous play, Doctor Faustus, he explores how power and greed corrupts a person through Faustus. Faustus is an intelligent and proud scholar who has studied all the Noble Sciences which begin with logic, then medicine, then law, and conclude with the highest of them all, divinity. However, even after reaching the peak of his studies, Faustus thirsts for further knowledge and power and turns to magic, believing it will turn him into "a mighty god" (I.i.59). After signing a deal with Lucifer and receiving limitless power, he is sapped of his ambition and thirst for knowledge. He continues to misuse these powers for petty reasons and, in the process, distances himself from God, Heaven, and therefore, the knowledge he desperately desired, transforming him "from a great, prideful scholar into a...mediocre magician." (SparkNotes.com, par. 7) Marlowe presents Faustus as a greedy, proud, and wealthy man whose character flaws, along with many other factors, quickly begin his descent into mediocrity until he finally realizes his mistakes and wrongdoings and attempts to repent, but to no avail. Although many critics believe that Faustus is not a tragic hero, he is a character that perfectly fits Aristotle's definition of a tragic hero.
Aristotle defines a tragic hero as a man of exceptional quality and greatness of noble birth whose tragic flaw leads to his own downfall. In addition, the hero's downfall must result in increased self-knowledge and self-awareness. Faustus, being a doctor who has studied logic, medicine, law, and divinity, is cle...


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...onsibility and, although too late, returns to his former self. Faustus fills the role of the tragic hero that Marlowe created for him perfectly and that is easily seen through Aristotle's definition of a tragic hero and the play itself.



Works Cited

Larson, John. "'Doctor Faustus' - Selling His Soul to Make a Point." Luminarium: Anthology of English Literature. Anniina Jokinen, 10 Feb. 2003. Web. 6 Jan. 2014


Marlowe, Christopher, and Sylvan Barnet. "G.L. Hunter: Five-Act Structure." Doctor Faustus. 2. Pr ed. New York: New American Library, 1969. 162. Print.

"Quotes About Pride." (511 quotes). N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Jan. 2014.

"Doctor Faustus: Themes, Motifs, and Symbols." SparkNotes. B&N, n.d. Web. 6 Jan. 2014.

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