"Marlowe's biographers often portray him as a dangerously overambitious individual. Explore ways this aspect of Marlowe's personality is reflected in Dr. Faustus.' "
Christopher Marlowe lived during the Renaissance period in 16th century England. Although this was a time of change, the Elizabethans still had fixed moral values. The Chain of Being,' a concept inherited from the Middle Ages, can be described as a hierarchy of society, with the monarch at the top and the lowliest peasants at the bottom. Below people were animals, plants and rocks. During the Elizabethan era, dangerous ambition' would probably involve trying to break the Chain of Being' and striving to increase one's social status. It was believed to be necessary to accept one's place in the chain, as to disrupt it and overcome the set order of society could mean chaos would follow.
Faustus was an exceedingly ambitious man, even in relation to what is considered to be ambitious by people in today's society. In the prologue, The Chorus sums up Faustus' background and early life, emphasizing his ordinary background and academic success. It seems that Faustus' intellect made him become proud and this fired up his ambition. When Marlowe presents Faustus in scene 1, Faustus methodically shuns great authors and classically intellectual subjects, such as medicine and law because they hold little attraction to him, (line 11)
A greater subject fitteth Faustus' wit.'
The above quote shows how Faustus elevates himself above taking up an intellectual pursuit that would be highly esteemed by the Elizabethans. Another sign that Faustus holds himself in high regard is that he refers to himself in the third person, also shown in the above quote. Faustus' discusses beliefs that he will no longer hold and describes what he wants to achieve in his opening soliloquy. Faustus may be seen as blasphemous in the opening speech, implying that he would only be a doctor if he could be equal to God,...
Bibliography: York Notes Advanced – Dr. Faustus
‘Writers and their Work, Christopher Marlowe ' by Thomas Healy (Northcote House Publishers)
‘Christopher Marlowe ' by Roger Sales (Macmillan)
‘A Death In Deptford ' by Mei Trow and Christopher Hague
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