Can Faustus truly be regarded as a tragic hero

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Can Faustus truly be regarded as a tragic hero Faustus, a tragic hero? In order to do this, Marlowe has drawn on the conventions of classical Greek tragedy, many of which dictate the nature of the hero or heroine. In ancient times, a hero achieved heroic status not because of saintliness or wickedness, but because of the acts he performed in life. The hero should have a socially elevated status and suffer a reversal of fortune in which he experiences great suffering. This is all certainly true of Faustus, who is highly regarded as both a lecturer at the University of Wittenberg, and an accomplished scholar. During his life, he performs extraordinary feats, which were unlike anything experienced by lesser mortals. Even by modern standards, the notion of necromancy is disturbing; for a contemporary Elizabethan audience, for whom religion permeated all aspects of life, it would have been inconceivably horrific. Once Faustus is "glutted with learning's golden gifts and surfeited upon cursed necromancy" he uses his powers to embark upon amazing adventures (for example learning the secrets of astronomy upon the summit of mount Olympus) which, again, are befitting of the tragic hero. Faustus reversal of fortune is also typically tragic. During the final scene of the play, in which we witness Faustus' final hour before being taken off to hell, he is, like all heroes of classical tragedy, completely isolated. There is a poignant contrast in Faustus' degeneration from the successful, revered conjurer of the previous scenes, to the disillusioned scholar we see here. In despair, he tries to conjure and command the earth to gape open but realises that, "o no, it will not harbour" him. His terror, desperation and... ... middle of paper ... ...alise he has made a fatal choice. By now the tragedy is inevitable; of his own free will Faustus has rejected all hope of salvation and the audience waits in trepidation for his impending doom. In conclusion the arrogance and blasphemy apparent in many of Faustus' speeches ("a greater subject fitteth Faustus' wit", "Faustus, try thy brains to gain a deity" etc) are characteristic of the classical tragic hero. For example, Faustus' pride and arrogance (which the Greeks called 'hubris') is strikingly similar to that of Aeschylus' tragic hero, king Agamemnon. As far as the issue of free will is concerned, I think that Faustus does have the opportunity to make his own decisions, despite Marlowe's paradoxical portrayal of a God whom, whilst able to control our predestination, cannot (when it comes down to it) control or undo the contract which Faustus makes.

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