To what extent is Dr Faustus a typical example of a morality play?
To an extent Doctor Faustus could be seen as a morality play; a morality play the is really a fusion of allegory and the religious drama of the miracle plays is a genre of theatre that was hugely popular in the early half of the 15 century, disappeared after the second half, but reappeared in Elizabethan drama. The plays were exquisite and memorable with unique variations and basic narrative structure. The general theme of the moralities was theological and the protagonist was the struggle between the good and evil powers for capturing the man’s soul and good always won. The story of whole morality play centres round the single towering figure. The seven deadly sins were found engaged in physical and verbal battle with cardinal virtues. The antics of vices and devils etc offered a considerable opportunity for low comedy. The morality play often ended with a solemn moral.
In the light of these points we may call Marlowe’s “Dr. Faustus” a belated morality play in spite of its tragic ending. It has been mentioned that in morality plays the characters were personified abstractions of vice or virtues. In “Dr.Faustus” also we find the Good and Evil angels, the former stand for the path of virtue and the latter for sin and damnation, one for conscience and the other for desires. Then we have the old man appearing, telling Faustus that he is there “to guide’ that steps unto the way of life”. He symbolizes the forces of righteousness and morality. The seven deadly sins are also there in a grand spectacle to cheer up the despairing soul of Faustus. If the, general theme of morality plays was theological dealing with the struggle of forces of good and evil for man’s soul, then “Dr. Faustus” may be called a religious or morality play to a very great extent. We find Marlowe’s hero, Faustus, abjuring the scriptures, the Trinity and Christ. He sells his soul to the devil out of his own ambition to gain: “a...
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