In his introduction, Arthur Kinney explains the background behind the play and why the play, Dr. Faustus was created. Kinney observes that Christopher Marlowe wrote the ideal Renaissance drama. Dr. Faustus challenges exactly what Elizabethan society stands for. The play probes two of its key factors, the church and the university. This is due to the fact that the play questions faith and education. Also because Mephastophilis debates with the Old Man about Christian values such as compliance, modesty, and devotion versus supremacy, glory and desire.
As Arthur Kinney states in his introduction, the Elizabethan quality that Faustus possesses is the fact that he desires what he cannot obtain. This includes, wealth, happiness, fame and the most important, immortality. The learning and education available to him isn’t sufficient enough; he craves the highest level which means immortality. Kinney says, “Like the tradition of the psychomachia which it turns into a harrowing examination of Elizabethan life and thought, Dr. Faustus alternates between the serious and comic, using grotesque not merely to entertain the groundlings but to display what depravity looks like to those not yet depraved.” (195) By doing this, Marloweee changes the play into a drama about denial, because instead of looking towards God, Faustus turns away from God and looks toward Satan. The fact that the play outright questions faith, God’s judgment, why he would create Lucifer, and many other important factors in the bible, in turn changes the play from a drama about a “fallen protagonist” to a drama which includes the “intense analysis of the human soul.”
Arthur Kinney tells the reader in his introduction, that Christopher Marlowe wrote Dr. Faustus between 1589 and 1592. However, Faustus was already mentioned twice publicly, once by Gabriel Harvey in 1589, and the second time by Henry Holland in 1590. In addition to this, the Protestant Reformers were already accustomed with the...
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