Get help from the best in academic writing.

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

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.

Christopher Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus – Is Dr. Faustus Crazy or Sane?

Christopher Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus – Is Dr. Faustus Crazy or Sane?

Christopher Marlowe’s play, Dr. Faustus, is the story of the struggle of one man who is battling with himself over what he values most in life, and to what extent he will go to obtain what he desires. The battles over the control of one’s ego and what a person values in their life are the two underlying struggles in this work. Faustus is a very educated and high member of society, but he was born in a lower class and has struggled all his life to be a wealthy person. He attains this opportunity to become wealthy when he learns how to call upon Satan, and he makes a deal with the devil to attain all the riches in life for his soul. Through out the play Faustus struggles with this decision and changes his mind back and forth with the devil to go back on the deal. Faustus is a human character, therefore he is tempted as all humans are and will be lead astray by false promises of happiness attained by wealth and knowledge. Dr. Faustus is a play dealing with the psychological effects that comes with the acquirement of wealth and knowledge in a non-ethical manner.

The obvious elements of a psychological battle are in the characters’ attempts to control their ego and superego. The “good” angel is the trademark of the good thoughts and the Superego in the story, and the “bad” angel is the trademark of the ego in the story. The good angel always gives Faustus the opportunity to repent and come back to God, and that God will forgive him and allow him to enter into heaven. “Never too late, if Faustus will repent…Repent, and they shall never raze thy skin”(II, iii; 84,86-87). The good angel argues with the bad angel while Faustus contemplates repenting his sin…

… middle of paper …

…irst, as being nothing.

Faustus is never happy with all the goods that he received, because there was always the battle in the back of his mind between controlling his ego and superego. Faustus’ fear and lack of self worth ruled over him and gave way to his inability to ever attain happiness. The psychological effects that Faustus experienced were a loss of his identity, happiness, and loss of control in his life. The struggle that Faustus went through emotionally and physically were supposed to be controlled by him, but when the end came he had no control over anything in his life, with his destiny having already been set. When the play ended Faustus had realized that twenty four years of complete extravagance was not what happiness was, and the only happiness that he could attain would be given to him by a wife or partner in life, which he would never attain.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.