Dr. Faustus as an Allegory

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April 9th 2013

Allegorical Findings in Dr. Faustus by Christopher Marlowe

The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus, or in simpler terms Dr. Faustus, by Christopher Marlowe is said to be based on the German legend of Faust, in which a man sells his soul to the devil for hierarchy and knowledge. No Elizabethan play outside the Shakespeare canon has raised more controversy than Marlowe’s tale of Dr. Faustus. Although there is no agreement concerning the nature of the text and actual date of composition, one thing is certainly agreed upon by the multitude of people who have studied this play: its allegorical references create the entirety of the play by undermining all that was known in the age that this play was written- Christianity (Smith, Logan 14). The introduction of the good and bad angels, Helen and The Old Man, and the Seven deadly Sins as human beings in this play is what sets Marlowe apart from the original story of Faust. They also represent the three allegories that are found within the play. This engrossing tale of a proud and an inordinately ambitious medieval magician who sold his soul to the Devil is undoubtedly allegorical. The play itself has a moral allegory of universal significance which is shown through the characters Marlowe introduced into the play. \

The presence of the good and bad angels tells a tale of a conflict between law and desire, religion and skepticism, or conscience and curiosity within the character of Faustus. The angels show the deeper feelings and controversy brewing inside Faustus, making them an allegory. Ellis Fermor wrote that

“The scene is set in no spot upon the physical earth but in the limitless regions of the mind and the battle is fought, not for kingdoms or crowns, but upon the question of man’s ultimate fate. Before him lies the possibility of escape to spiritual freedom or a doom of slavery to demoniac powers. Thus, and in such terms is staged the greatest conflict that drama has...
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