Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus

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Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus

The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus is analyzed in three important aspects. The relationship and connection between Faustus players and the audience, and the juxtaposition of Marlowe’s Faustus and an ancient legend and the historical place card that is held by Marlowe’s play are key components in the analysis of the old script. Between the years of 1594 and 1595, Faustus is listed twelve times in Henslowe's reporatory records showing that the play was performed, at minimum, a dozen times. Alleyn became famous for his roles, one of which was Faustus. Alleyn was the owner of the Fortune theatre, and the creator of the "majestick" roles that the Red Bull and Fortune players adapted from him. Most of his repertoire, including Faustus, went to his Fortune company. With regard to hall and ampitheatre staging, the noise was not only an issue, but the smell. The fireworks essential to Faustus, a play with devils, caused quite a smell in the tight space. The painting ceilings with displays of the heavens allowed for an automatic visual signal of Faustus descending into hell, an action which was further emphasized by the trap floor.In the 1616 text of the play, it gives the direction "enter Fautus with a false head" right before decapitation. This is a clue to the utilization of the Elizabethan illusionary tool in the play.

(The original woodcut is in Reginald Scot’s Discoverie of Witchcraft [1584])

Realism in the theatre is closely linked with spectacle. In the 1594 English Wagner Book, private-theatre plays were transcribed by memories of the performance. It says, ‘There might you see the ground work at the one end of the Stage whereout the personated devils should enter in their fiery ornaments, made like the broad wide mouth of a huge Dragon...the teeth of this Hels-mouth far out stretching’ (Gurr 224). The Hell-mouth "discovered", or present, in the 1616 text of Faustus has usually been identified...
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