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Doctor Faustus as a man of Renaissance.

Christopher MarloweAnswer: Faustus’s inexhaustible thirst for  knowledge , his worship of beauty , his passion for the classics , his skepticism , his interest in sorcery and magic , his admiration of Machiavelli and super –human ambition and will in the pursuit of ideals of beauty or power, prove him to be a man of renaissance.

Faustus appears as a man of the Renaissance in the very opening scene when rejecting the traditional subject of study, he turns to magic. He contemplates the world of profit and delight, of power, of honor, of omnipotence which he will enjoy as a magician. In dwelling upon the advantages of his magic power, he shows his ardent curiosity, his desire for wealth and luxury, his nationalism, and his longing for power. These were precisely the qualities of the Renaissance. The Renaissance was also the age of discovery. A number of allusions are also made regarding that. For example, Faustus desires gold from the East Indies, pearls from the depth of the sea, pleasant fruit and princely delicacies from America.

Obviously Faustus represents the new and aspiring spirit of the age of the Renaissance. Marlowe expresses in this play both his fervent sympathy with that new spirit and ultimately his awed and pitiful recognition of the danger into which it could lead those who were dominated by it. The danger is clearly seen in Faustus’s last soliloquy in which Faustus offers to burn his books. No doubt these books are cheaply the books of magic, but we are surely reminded of his exclamation to the scholars earlier in this scene:

“O, would I had never seen Willenberg, never read book!”

Thus we get the impression that Faustus attributes his downfall, partly at least, to his learning_ the chief tenet of the Renaissance.

Doctor Faustus is the first play to explore the tragic possibilities of the direct clash between the Renaissance compulsions and the Hebrai – Christian tradition. Timberline symbolizes the outward thrust of the Renaissance but Doctor Faustus focuses the inward.

The play has a typical morality play ending. It closes with a speech by the chorus warning ‘forward wits’ against such fiendish practices as Faustus followed. But if the play has a pious conclusion, the truth of the play goes far beyond the final piety of the speech of the chorus. No figure of the old morality –plays does so much and so boldly as Faustus.  Faustus in thought and action ,brooding , philosophizing , disputing, conjuring, defying God, risking his body and soul, does not suggest merely the lay figure of the morality plays; he suggests Adam (the knowledge seeker), and he suggests  the defiant hero of the Greek tradition). In other words, Faustus puts into an old legend a new meaning. He inserts into the old medieval or Christian moral equation the new and ambiguous dynamic of the Renaissance.

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In the play, all that the Renaissance valued is represented in what the devil has to offer. All that the Good Angel has to offer is warnings. For example, The Good Angel warns Faustus against reading the book of magic because it will bring God’s ‘heavy wrath’ upon his head, and ask him to think of heaven. To this the evil angel replies:

“No, Faustus think of honour and of wealth.”

At another point in the play the evil urges Faustus to go forward in the famous art of magic and to become a lord and commander of the earth. There can be no doubt that the devil here represents the natural ideal of the Renaissance by appealing to the vague but healthy ambitions of a young soul which wishes to launch itself upon the wide world. No wonder that Faustus, a child of the Renaissance cannot resists the devil’s allurement.

In short it can be said that represents almost everything that the Renaissance valued – curiosity for knowledge, power, enterprise, wealth and beauty.

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