Renaissance Essay 1

Good Essays
Stacy Ducharme

ENL-307

Prof. J. Schaaf

18 September 2013

Dr. Faustus – A Renaissance Play

Defined as a “rebirth”, Renaissance literature remains true to its name throughout the texts developed during this tumultuous period of history often by focusing on the re-invention of the self, as well as abolishing the old and welcoming the new. Specifically in the Tragical History of Dr. Faustus by Christopher Marlowe, the playwright incorporates greater themes of religion, politics, and philosophy in an expertly crafted piece. In addition to its greater historical and cultural contexts, the depiction of the protagonist’s individual struggle examined many elements of the human psyche throughout the play, all while tracing a common moral throughout the work. Concerning the philosophical perspective of the work, the text explores the notion of free agency and its costs. Free agency is defined in the dictionary as a person who is self-determining and not responsible for his or her actions to any authority. In the play, the main character, Dr. Faustus, decides to sell his soul to the devil – represented by the character named Mephastophilis. The Devil is the “authority” in the play, because giving up his freedom to him, Faustus would have to pay the “costs” and, in turn, reap the “benefits”. Not for no reason, there was a very attractive promise to put Dr. Faustus in a state of power if he stays loyal to Hell and the Devil. This power includes granting him wishes, giving him the ability to have the luxuries he pleases, and having access to any information he wants to know. It is described in the play as Faustus saying, “Say he surrenders up to him his soul…/Letting him live in all voluptuousness/To give me whatsoever I shall ask/To tell me whatsoever I demand…/And always be obedient to my will,” (Marlowe 1.4 1136). This contemplation was Faustus weighting the benefits of permanently handing over his mind, body, and soul to the Devil. Also, the doctor had specific

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