Dr. Faustus Essay: The Tragic Downfall of Dr. Faustus

Dr. Faustus Essay: The Tragic Downfall of Dr. Faustus

Length: 1051 words (3 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The Tragic Downfall of Dr. Faustus     


Christopher Marlowe's play, its genre an English tragedy of the sixteenth century, presents the tragic conflict of the Faust theme in the tradition of medieval morality plays. The concepts of good and evil in these plays and their psychological implications reflect a historical background in which the church dominates the ethical and moral concepts of their time. Faustus defies society's norms and embraces the devil with courageous desperation, fully aware of the inevitable consequences, but incapable of being satisfied with his human limitations.


The play is divided into five acts, each of them representing a progressive stage of Faustus' downfall, his moral and ethical decline. In the prologue preceeding the first act, which is written in the form of a poetic commentary, Faustus is allegorically compared to Ikarus, the Greek mythological figure, through the alliteration of "waxen wings" (Prologue line 20). Ikarus' actual flight represents symbolically Faustus' intellectual endeavors to unreached heights. The melting of Ikarus' wings find their parallel in Faustus' downfall and destruction. The language used, discloses hierarchical thought pattern: scholarly pursuits are high standing in value. The closeness to the sun that causes Ikarus' fall foreshadows Faustus' destruction and his desire to become like God. This reflects the pre-renaissance understanding of social order - people are to stay in their "God-given" place in society.


But the image of Ikarus' death is also to be taken literal. "Heavens conspired his overthrow" (Prologue line 21) foretells Faustus' actual death while the blame for it is being placed scornfully and s...

... middle of paper ...

...t of sin, "but Faustus, in hell is all manner of delight"(II,ii,179).


The struggle between Faustus' superego/good angel and his id/bad angel continue throughout the play and the possibility of achieving a balance doesn't seem to exist. In the society of the sixteenth century repressive moral standards prohibited a possible balance between ethical demands and human passions, causing psychological traumas as the reader can observe it in this play. Society of this time, forcing their limited understanding of God on people, caused thinkers like Faust to lose their chance for a supernatural experience with God that could have solved their questions. It would take another two hundred years until in the period of Enlightenment a new Faust, created by Goethe, would retain his noble character and conquer with reason the trivial attempts of Mephistopheles.


Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The Tragic Downfall of Faustus in Tragical Histor of Doctor Faustus Essay

- The Tragic Downfall of Faustus in Tragical Histor of Doctor Faustus Christopher Marlowe’s Tragical History of Doctor Faustus is about a man who seeks power that comes from knowledge beyond the human realm. Throughout the story, the seven deadly sins are shown and have an impact on Dr. Faustus during his search for ultimate power. However, it is one of these vices of the seven deadly sins that plays a particular and key role in his demise. Pride, creates Dr. Faustus’ inability to repent, therefore ultimately resulting in his death....   [tags: Papers]

Strong Essays
916 words (2.6 pages)

Faustus: A Tragic Hero Essay

- 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)....   [tags: literary analysis, john larson]

Strong Essays
1093 words (3.1 pages)

Mephistophilis in Marlowe’s Faustus Essay examples

- Mephistophilis in Marlowe’s Faustus Mephistophilis is a striking central character in the play ‘Doctor Faustus’, written by Christopher Marlowe in the late sixteenth century. His role in this flamboyant yet tragic play is ultimately to aid Faustus’ downfall from renowned scholar to foolhardy prey of Lucifer. However, Mephistophilis’ motives are perceptibly ambiguous throughout ‘Doctor Faustus’; he seemingly alternates between a typically gleeful medieval devil, and a romantically suffering fallen angel....   [tags: Marlowe Faustus Essays]

Strong Essays
1450 words (4.1 pages)

Faustus' Study and Opening Speech

- Faustus' Study and Opening Speech The scene now shifts to Faustus’s study, and Faustus’s opening speech about the various fields of scholarship reflects the academic setting of the scene. In proceeding through the various intellectual disciplines and citing authorities for each, he is following the dictates of medieval scholarship, which held that learning was based on the authority of the wise rather than on experimentation and new ideas. This soliloquy, then, marks Faustus’s rejection of this medieval model, as he sets aside each of the old authorities and resolves to strike out on his own in his quest to become powerful through magic....   [tags: Doctor Faustus Plays English Literature Essays]

Strong Essays
3582 words (10.2 pages)

Essay on Rafe and Robin in Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus

- Rafe and Robin in Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus Rafe and Robin waltz into Christopher Marlowe’s The Tragical History of D. Faustus in scene four and vanish three scenes later. Although they may appear trivial and even intrusive, Rafe and Robin bring much-needed comic relief to this tragic play. Imitating Doctor Faustus’ actions unwittingly, this pair of ostlers illuminates Faustus’ misuse of power. They also reflect Faustus’ character by acting as his parallel self. Behind their clownish antics, Rafe and Robin highlight Faustus’ downfall and evil’s power through comic relief, parody, and parallel....   [tags: Doctor Faustus]

Strong Essays
1235 words (3.5 pages)

Essay on Doctor Faustus: Dramatic Form

- Marlowe's dramatic activity comprises six brief years, from 1587 to 1593. Yet those six years produced six splendid plays. As the writer of genuine tragedy, all his works illustrated his individualistic conception of tragedy. The classical Greek conception modified by the Renaissance spirit, the conception which portrays `the struggle between the overweening soul, typically Renaissance in its insatiable ambition, and the limitations which it seeks to overcome'. Doctor Faustus was probably written in 1592, although the exact date of its composition is uncertain....   [tags: European Literature]

Strong Essays
1050 words (3 pages)

Doctor Faustus Essay

- Remind yourself of scene 5, lines 167 – 280 (pages 31 – 37 in the New Mermaids Edition) from “Now would I have a book…” to the entrance of The Seven Deadly Sins. (In some other editions, this section begins near the end of Act 2 Scene 5 and includes the opening of Act 2 Scene 1.) What is the importance of this section in the context of the whole play. In your answer you should consider: -The dramatic effects created by the Good and Evil Angels -The language used by Faustus and Mephastophilis. This section of the play has both an important structural and contextual role in Dr....   [tags: essays research papers]

Strong Essays
1224 words (3.5 pages)

Essay about Can Faustus truly be regarded as a tragic hero

- 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....   [tags: English Literature]

Strong Essays
1059 words (3 pages)

Essay about Frankenstein and Faustus

- Frankenstein and Faustus The Alienation of Victor Frankenstein and Dr. John Faustus Victor Frankenstein and John Faustus are two characters that are alienated because of their intellectual curiosity. Faustus’s and Frankenstein’s pursuits of knowledge begin with an inexorable journey to their downfalls as they become alienated. Both characters attempt to exceed human ability and are alienated from God because of their attempts. These men are concerned with the secrets of nature and are ultimately alienated from the world because of their quests which violate nature....   [tags: essays papers]

Strong Essays
1475 words (4.2 pages)

Essay about Dr. Faustus

- Dr. Faustus Dramatic Quality of the Central Scenes in ‘Dr Faustus’ by Christopher Marlowe 'Dr Faustus' is considered by many to be a tragic play, in fact, Marlowe himself called it, ‘The Tragicall History of the Life and Death of Dr. Faustus’. However, there are several scenes in the middle of the play (scenes 6 to 11) which can be considered to be comical scenes, which do not fit into the stereotype of tragedies of the time. They can be considered to be interesting scenes in their own right, but their overall purpose and their closely linked end dramatic quality, is examinable....   [tags: Christopher Marlowe Tragedies Plays Essays]

Strong Essays
1860 words (5.3 pages)