Defying Religion: Dr. Faustus

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Defying Religion: Dr. Faustus, a coded play encouraging readers to flout medieval authority and think for themselves.

One of the basic unofficial rules of the medieval era was to respect and follow the rules of the church. To resent higher-powers and the beliefs they bestowed upon others was disciplinary. With very high risk of penalty, Christopher Marlowe purposely displayed thoughts of atheism and subtly encouraged his audience to question authority through the script of Dr.Faustus. His own opinions towards authority were shown by the portrayal of his thoughts through Faustus’ actions as well the ridicule of the church and by obtaining the audience’s sympathy. These three things combined provide encouragement for those in the audience that may have thought as Marlowe did.

To start with, Marlowe portrayed his own thoughts and feelings through Faustus in order to promote bitterness towards authority. This is first proven by Faustus’ disregard for Heaven or Hell. For example, whilst pondering where hell may be, Faustus bluntly admits that he does not believe in it. “Come, I think hell’s a fable” (22) he says to Mephistophilis, starting to reveal an atheist agenda. By not believing in such a crucial part of the Catholic religion, Faustus is opening a door of new ideas and opinions to the audience. Next, Faustus disregards authority himself. For instance, when given advice by the good angel, Faustus questions ‘How am I glutted with conceit of this!” (5), convinced that he is doing no wrong by choosing black magic. He disregards authority, and continues to fulfill his selfish needs. The good angel, symbol of God and higher power, would be respected and listened to by any other but is ignored by Faustus, further promoting bitterness towards authority to the audience. Next, by continually disregarding the good Angel’s wishes, Faustus implies that he does not believe that God will forgive him for his sins. For example, He contemplates that his “Heart’s so...
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