Prior to the age of the Renaissance in Europe, people were taught to think about enjoying their afterlife to come rather than finding happiness in their daily life on Earth. In Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, the age of the Renaissance was in full bloom, enabling the character to become consumed with individualism. Because the Renaissance enabled people to worry about their own happiness, Marlowe was able to create a character who in his quest for happiness takes extreme measures. Marlowe’s character is a complex one that taught the people of Marlowe’s time to think about how far they went to achieve happiness. Though the use of symbols, foreshadowing, and character description, Marlowe paints the picture of a man tormented by his quest for individualism.
In Doctor Faustus, symbols play a rather large role in helping to show the consumption of individualism in Faustus. In Faustus’s quest for happiness and knowledge he makes many choices that are seen as extreme and outlandish because of how far Faustus is willing to go to get what he desires most in life. In order to gain all of the knowledge and power he wants, Faustus signs his soul away to the Devil; “MEPHASTOPHILIS. That I shall wait on Faustus whilst he lives, so he will buy my service with his soul. FAUSTUS. Already Faustus, thou must bequeath that for thee.
MEPHASTOPHILIS. But Faustus, thou must bequeath it solemnly, and write a deed of gift with thine own blood, for that security craves great Lucifer. If thou deny it, I will back to hell. FAUSTUS. Stay, Mepahstophilis, and tell me, what good will my soul do thy lord? MEPHASTOPHILIS. Enlarge his kingdom
FAUSTUS. Is that the reason he tempts us thus?
MEPHASTOPHILIS. Solamen miseris socios habuisse doloris
FAUSTUS. Have you any pain that tortures others?
MEPHASTOPHILIS. As great as have the human souls of men. But tell me Faustus, shall I have thy soul? And I will be thy slave and wait on thee, and give thee more than thou hast wit to ask....
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