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Christopher Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus – An Insatiable Desire for Knowledge, Wealth And Power

Christopher Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus – Corrupted by an Insatiable Desire for Knowledge, Wealth And Power

The Renaissance period is characterized by a grand desire for acquisition of knowledge and a passion for emerging individuality. “Scholars and educators . . . began to emphasize the capacities of the human mind and the achievements of human culture, in contrast to the medieval emphasis on God and contempt for the things in this world” (Slights 129). However, the whirlwind of change brought on by the budding ideas of Humanist thinkers was met with a cautious warning by one the greatest writers of the era. Christopher Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus acts as mask, containing and disguising the dramatist’s criticisms of Renaissance thinking.

Christopher Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus is, in many ways, reflective of humankind’s struggle to balance new ideas with existing traditional thoughts as the world neared the 17th century. At the time this play was written, “Elizabethans saw the world as a vast, unified, hierarchical order, or ‘Great Chain of Being,’ created by God” (139). At the very depths of this hierarchy lay the innate objects and at the top sat God and the angels, with the plant and animal kingdoms falling somewhere in the middle. Humans were believed to sit just above the animals, as they possessed souls and free will. It is said that humans could develop and reside “a little lower than the angels” or degenerate and fall to the level of the animals (139). Faustus is striving to rise towards the angels in his quest for human advancement, but ironically, he ends up plummeting to the depths of Hell.

The drama Dr. Faustus illustrates Marlowe’s two main concerns for the human mind at the turn of the 17th …

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…twines the vast differences with prolific language and a shocking storyline. The play’s tragic conclusion marks Marlowe’s detachment from the morale plays of his generation. Its tragic conclusion leaves the Renaissance audience with a sense of despair, but also with a resolve to avoid the wicked desires embodied by Faustus.

Works Cited

Barnett, Sylvan, ed. Doctor Faustus / Christopher Marowe: edited and with an introd. by Sylvan Barnett. New York: New American Library, 1969.

Etienne, Gilson. Reasons and Revelations in the Middle Ages. New York: New York, 1938.

Marlowe, Christopher. “Doctor Faustus.” The Genius of the Early English Theatre. Sylvan Barnet, Morton Berman

Jill McCorckle’s Ferris Beach: Loss of Innocence

The most enduring and fragile aspects of one’s childhood remains naive innocence. In Jill McCorckle’s Ferris Beach, Katie Burns grows up during the course of the novel, loosing her innocence in the process. Hardships, tragedies, and losses dramatically change a person’s perception of the world around them. Katie, like almost all children, sees the world through naive and inexperienced eyes as a child, and her perception of the world is filtered through her own imagination and ideas about life. As the child grows up, they face turning points in their life, points when an unmerciful reality strips them of their innocence. Through a series of significant emotional events, Katie loses her own innocence, only to have a harsher, more flawed, and tragic view of the world replace it.

An early plot line in the novel revolves around the emergence of the mystery-shrouded Angela Burns, Katie’s cousin. Angela Burns becomes the model of perfection to Katie at a very early age in her life: “It was that day that I attached to Angela everything beautiful and lively and good” (5). Katie’s naivete allows her to believe that a person can be perfect, and Katie aspires to one day be Angela. Throughout the novel, however, Angela’s image of perfection slowly starts to unravel, and when Katie finally visits Angela’s own home, the reality shatters the perfect image. When Katie enters Angela’s apartment she sees, “dishes in her sink, sparse furnishings with sandy threadbare upholstery, a floor-to-ceiling lamp with adjustable lights like some kind of insect; a square of lime green shag carpet covered the center of the floor” (267). Such a dismal, repulsive apartment destroys the vision Katie has of Angela’s perfect life. This enlightening experience re…

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…to deal with her own life better as a child. Now, Angela embarrasses and shames Katie for her innocent dreams as a child. Childhood fantasies often turn out to be just that, fantasies. Katie learns this lesson in a painful way, through the humiliation Angela places on her at a fragile time in Katie’s life. Katie’s childhood dream becomes a source of pain after Angela mocks her.

In the journey from child to adult, many painful barriers must be passed through. In the case of Katie, her experiences with death, love, and imagination all end in hard-learned lessons; lessons which bring her out of innocence and into experience, an experience that seems more cruel and harsh than the image of the world she had as a child. Yet, all of life’s roads remain covered with hardships, lessons and tragedies, and maybe the sooner we live to learn with them, the better.

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