Barbara F Mcmanus (1999) Outlines Aristotle’s View from ‘the Poetics’, Stating That a Tragic Hero Will “Mistakenly Bring on His Own Downfall”. How Do Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus and Shakespeare’s Hamlet

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Barbara F McManus (1999) outlines Aristotle’s view from ‘The Poetics’, stating that a tragic hero will “mistakenly bring on his own downfall”. How do Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus and Shakespeare’s Hamlet characters relate to this? I personally believe that this statement is true, as all tragic heroes present to the audience a flaw that they have, that will later bring on their downfall. Doctor Faustus and Hamlet are both examples of this. Doctor Faustus is a play by Christopher Marlowe, based on the Faust story. It was first published in 1604, eleven years after Marlowe’s death and at least twelve years after the first performance of the play. As a wildly supernatural play, based majoritarily on black magic, the Elizabethan audience would have been terrified at the prospect of Faustus having the devil on his tail, and would have found, particularly in the last scene, mortifying and edge-of-seat tense as Faustus counts down his last hours on earth before Lucifer returns to drag him to the underworld. Written in 1602, Hamlet remains to this day, one of Shakespeare’s most famous writings. Set in the kingdom of Denmark, it follows the story of the revengeful Prince Hamlet. A tragic hero is character of a play or story (usually the protagonist) of a tragedy genre. Aristotle first established his view of what makes a tragic hero in his book ‘Poetics’. He suggests that a hero of tragedy must evoke in the audience a sense of pity or fear, quoting “the change of fortune presented must not be the spectacle of a virtuous man brought from prosperity to adversity”. This can be related to both Hamlet and Doctor Faustus. At the more emotional points of Hamlet, one cannot help but feel pity for him because of the situation he’s in, his father having being killed by his uncle, whom his mother later married. Doctor Faustus, I believe, evokes a sense of both pity and fear. This can especially be seen in the final soliloquy. The audience cannot help but feel pity for...
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