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MonkeyNotes-Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe
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DOCTOR FAUSTUS AS A RENAISSANCE PLAY

Marlowe’s play deals with the ambition of the Renaissance to cultivate an “aspiring mind.” The Renaissance aspiration for infinite knowledge is embodied in Faustus. However, Faustus shows little discrimination in his pursuits. He delights, for example, in the pageant of the Seven Deadly Sins, ironically remarking: “O this feeds my soul.” Throughout the twenty-four years, he seeks experience of all kinds in the true Renaissance manner. Finally, instead of freedom, his knowledge brings him despair.

Another quality possessed by the ambitious Renaissance humanist is his desire to reach the highest peaks of life experience. This is manifested in Faustus in his desire to be none other than a god: “A sound magician is a demi-god”.


A third characteristic is the Renaissance worship of beauty for its own sake. Faustus’ address to Helen of Troy makes it evident that he feels something of the Renaissance quest for beauty. In this way Doctor Faustus is seen to be a play preoccupied with Renaissance concerns.

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