Christopher Marlowe's depiction of the tragic hero in both The Jew of Malta and Doctor Faustus displays protagonists that have a weakness which they give in to, and which ultimately leads them to their downfall. Faustus displays more human characteristics which the reader can relate to, Barabas being the more inhuman of the two, yet at their ends, the result is the same; the reader feels as though the right thing has been done, and this realization is followed by a sense of relief. Marlowe's tragic heroes help the reader achieve a sense of at their demise through use of vices to which the protagonist succumbs.
In Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus, Faustus is portrayed as the protagonist, as well as the tragic hero. An extremely intelligent and successful man, Faustus is distracted from living a good life by Mephastophilis, an evil character sent from Hell. The reader is sympathetic towards the tragic hero because of his flaws, seeing that they (as exaggerated as they are) are commonly done, and one can easily relate. Faustus shows a range of emotions throughout the play, again proving to the reader that this is a real man that possesses common traits. Every man at one point has dreamt of power and knowledge, and that is exactly what Faustus pursues in this play, and as it is said; "If we say that we have no sin/We deceive ourselves, and there is no truth in us./Why then, belike, we must sin,/And consequently die./Ay we must die an everlasting death.." (I.I.41-46) Faustus admits that if one is to believe that they live without committing sins, they are lying to themselves, as in order to be human, you need to make mistakes and live up to the consequences that come with them. Faustus is highly admired by his scholars, who show great concern when they find out he is being introduced to the black arts; these practices turn out to be his greatest flaw in the play. A tragic man is defined by competing loyalties and desires, and is divided by good and evil....
Marlowe, Christopher. Doctor Faustus . New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.
Marlowe, Christopher. The Jew of Malta. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.
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