Since I am not familiar with and have not read any of the outside texts to which Foley refers (Aristotle’s Oedipus Tyrannos, Poetics, Politics, and Ethics, the Hippocratic medical texts, and the feminist theory of Carol Gilligan), I can only assume that her interpretations of these texts are correct. In any case, she uses Aristotle and Hippocrates in order to develop a historical framework against which she can judge Homer’s fictitious character Penelope. This method would have led to a good argument if she had included in her analysis an …
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…to be true about Odysseus’ whereabouts. It is this former aspect of her thought process in making the decision to present the bow to the suitors as a more pressing concern to Penelope and ultimately makes her decision for her.
Works Cited and Consulted
Diana Buitron-Oliver and Beth Cohen, “Between Skylla and Penelope: Female Characters of the Odyssey in Archaic and Classical Greek Art,” pp. 29-58.
Richard Brilliant, “Kirke’s Men: Swine and Sweethearts,” pp. 165-73.
Helene Foley, “Penelope as Moral Agent,” in Beth Cohen, ed., The Distaff Side (Oxford 1995), pp. 93-115.
Jennifer Neils, “Les Femmes Fatales: Skylla and the Sirens in Greek Art,” pp. 175-84.
Marilyn Arthur Katz, Penelope’s Renown: Meaning and Indeterminacy in the Odyssey (Princeton 1991).
Nancy Felson-Rubin, Regarding Penelope: From Courtship to Poetics (Princeton 1994).
Dr. Faustus: A Morality Play Without a Moral?
To answer the question proposed by the title there are two aspects which must be considered. Firstly we must decide whether Dr Faustus is a morality play; I will do this by discussing the play’s form, content and subject matter in an attempt to categorise the play. I will also offer an alternative argument by saying that the play is in fact a tragedy. Secondly we must decide whether or not it has a moral; to do this I will consider the tone of certain parts of the play, in particular the Chorus’ speeches as well as the speech of other characters.
Let us first deal with the categorisation of the play. To determine if Dr Faustus is a morality play or not we must first know what a morality play is. Morality plays are essentially dramatised sermons usually based on the subject of repentance; typically an Everyman figure will begin in innocence, be led into temptation by others, to be finally redeemed. In Dr Faustus Marlowe uses the structure of the morality play intensively, most noticeably in the characters he uses as many of them are representations of type rather than being individuals. For example, the characters of Valdes and Cornelius are known as ‘the tempters’, thus fitting the morality definition as the characters who tempt the main character into sin (although they are not alone in this ). The Good and Bad Angels can also be seen as morality play characters, although this depends on whether or not we see them as real characters from another world or as externalisations of Faustus’ own thoughts and conscience. There is nothing in the text which precisely determines which view is correct. However Faustus’ speech in Act II scene i, implies they are externalisations of his conscience;
Why waver’st thou? O som…
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…ecause of the style of the time or because it had the right form for what Marlowe wanted to say. Concerning the moral within the play, there is certainly one (at least) which is offered by several characters. However I do not believe the play was written with the sole intention of offering a moral and would be equally as strong without one. Despite the moral given and the aspects of the morality play structure the play remains, primarily, the tragedy of an individual.
Marlowe, Christopher Dr Faustus in ed. WB Worthen (1996) The Harcourt Brace Anthology of Drama, 2nd edn., Texas: Harcourt Brace
Steane, J.B (1965) Marlowe Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Wilson, F.P (1953) Marlowe and the Early Shakespeare Oxford: Clarendon Press
The Oxford English Dictionary (1989), Second edition, Volume xviii. Oxford: Clarendon Press