The Manifestation of Witchcraft in Marlowe's Doctor Faustus

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Mario Iličić
Doc.dr.sc. Borislav Berić
Survey of English literature 1
17 December 2012

The Manifestation of Witchcraft in Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus The end of War of Roses between Houses of York and Lancaster brought to England the Tudor family, a family which Queen Elizabeth comes from. The period or Renaissance and Humanism dating from the late 15th to early 17th century was marked by her prosperous reign and was also called the Golden Era. This era brought to English society various changes, mostly regarding religion and politics. A rapid shift in religions was a culprit for the appearance of witchcraft and wizardry, a major controversy of that time. Such changes were reflected in works of many authors among which was Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, a protagonist who thought that his current knowledge could not make him superior to others, so he turned to magic for which he thought will bring him fame and eternal glory. As Matthews points out, it is important to note that in the Renaissance, a group of Neoplatonic philosophers used magic for heavenly purposes such as “hunting down witches or identifying witchcraft as the cause of sickness” (Matthews). On the contrary, there were those who used magic to “spread evil” (Matthews) and were therefore called witches. Faustus considers his desire of gaining extra knowledge and “godlike status” (Matthews) as being a heavenly purpose in the sense of changing the world, so he summons a devil Mephistophilis from which he demands obedience. Faustus signs a pact with the devil by giving away his soul, and “rejects God and Christianity and like a witch in a sabbat turns to Devil” (Matthews):

Go, bear these tidings to great Lucifer:
Seeing Faustus hath incurred eternal death
By desperate thoughts against Jove’s deity,
Say he surrenders up to him his soul.
So he will spare him four and twenty years (Marlowe, Act I, l. 91-96) Moreover, Faustus goes beyond “simply making a pact with the devil and begins...
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