"Out of ancient myth of the magician who sells his soul to the Devil for occult powers, Marlowe has fashioned a veritable fable of Renaissance man" (Source 5 113).
The goal of any true renaissance man is to improve himself. This goal may border on heresy, as it leads to a man trying to occupy the same position as God. Lucifer commits this same basic sin to cause his own fall. To Doctor Faustus, this idea of sin is of no concern at the beginning of Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus. Faustus' goal is to become god-like himself. In order to accomplish this, he learns of science and shows an interest in magic. He turns to the pleasures of magic and art and the poewr of scientific knowledge as substitutes for the Christian faith he has lost" (source 5 115). Clearly, this total disregard for God makes Faustus an atheist. However, it is only his renaissance quality, which seals his damnation, not his lack of faith. It is interesting to note how Faustus directly parallels Marlowe himself. The play is written as if Marlowe's vindication of Faustus will vindicate him in the end. This has a direct effect on style as well as the overall spin, which Marlowe takes on the archetype. Such as strong connection between Faustus and Marlowe makes it practical to speak of the damnation of both of these interesting characters almost simultaneously. Therefore, Marlowe and Faustus are both damned by their own self-improvement, not only by God, but also by themselves, and society.
Doctor Faustus opens with a depiction of Faustus as the perfect Renaissance man. "He is partly an artist, who does not wish to glorify God, as his medieval predecessors did, but to applaud and please man; he is partly a scientist and philosopher, whose hope is to make man more godlike and not to justify his miserable life on earth; and, most significantly he is a Protestant, a Lutheran by training who has attempted through Reformation to escape the evils he associates with a Roman Catholic Church." (source 5 113) As the epitome of renaissance man, Faustus believes that he can infinitely improve himself (4 155). Faustus considers his life before his deal with Lucifer as one that has gone as far as current interests may carry him. He notes in the opening scene "Then read no more; thou hast attained the end. / A greater subject fitteth Faustus' wit: / Bid philosophy farewell" (Marlowe 14). To complete his life Faustus considers following God, however after reading from the Bible he decides that God cannot offer him truth, "The reward of sin is death. That's hard. /
/If we say that we have no sin / We decieve ourselves, and there's no truth in us. / Why then belike / We must sin and so consequently die, Ay, we must die an everlasting death/
Divinity, adieu!" (Marlowe 15). Having denied God completely leaves Faustus completely desolated from society, In acceptance of Mephistophilis, Faustus completely denies society and all that has been handed to him by science and learning. "Marlowe shows that one who rejects his intellectual, social, and spiritual inheritance experiences pain of personal isolation, anxiety, dread, and meaninglessness" (source 5 150). Finally, Faustus turns to magic as his method to improve himself infinitely.
Faustus' decision to become a magician marks the fatal culmination of his attempt to improve himself infinitely. At this point, Faustus notes, " A sound magician is a mighty god / Here, Faustus, try thy brains to gain a deity " (Marlowe 15). This marks the crossover from attempting to improve himself as a mortal and attempting to become immortal. He believes that magic is his only feasible option to become immortal. "He dismisses divinity because it seems to invite a hateful determinism which denies the real freedom to settle', begin', and be'"(source 10 158). Faustus' deal with Lucfier ultimately commits Faustus to this belief. By making a deal with Lucifer, he is putting into practice his belief that he...
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