Is Dr. Faustus a Medieval Morality Play or Is It a Renaissance Drama?

Topics: Middle Ages, Renaissance, Morality Play Pages: 3 (807 words) Published: November 19, 2008
Is Dr. Faustus a medieval morality play or is it a renaissance drama?

Dr. Faustus is a unique play among the plays that were written at the time. It was a play out of the ordinary that was a surprise, something the Elizabethans weren't expecting. It could be argued that the reason for it being different is because it is a renaissance drama but however some argue that it is a medieval morality play, a genre of theatre popular from early 1400s to 1580s. A morality play could be defined as a medieval drama that portrayed moral dilemmas through allegorical figures such as Everyman and various virtues (Strength, Beauty) and vices (Gluttony, Rumor). Most moralities (such as Everyman) dealt with the way in which the Christian meets death.

It could be argued that this is a morality play because in scene 1, as in a traditional morality play, Faustus appears to hear only the last speaker, in this case the evil angel, who promises him power over the elements. The conflict between Good and Evil was a recurring theme in the medieval morality plays. From this point of view, Marlow's play is a dramatization of the medieval morality play, Everyman. Doctor Faustus becomes a morality play in which heaven struggles for the soul of a Renaissance Everyman, namely Doctor Faustus. Through out the play Marlow places contradictions such as good and bad angel in order to present his Faustus’s confusion of choices to make, this challenges the Elizabethan audience.

He displays immorality by conjuring the devil. Further more the narrative pattern supports it being a morality play. The narrative pattern in which a central character falls into evil ways but repeatedly considers repentance at the same time. In early scenes of the play, Dr. Faustus is evidently unsure about the decision that he has made but tries to strengthen himself by thinking of all the powers he will get in return for soul as he states: ’now go not backward: no, Faustus be resolute. Evidently, the more he tries to...
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