Dr Faustus as a Marlowvian Tragedy


Dr Faustus as a Marlowvian Tragedy


Dr Faustus as a Marlowvian Tragedy

Dr Faustus as a Marlowvian Tragedy

Dr Faustus as a Marlowvian Tragedy

English dramas before the advent of Christopher Marlowe were in their primitive state of chaos. They had neither a spirited soul nor a definite shape of the body. But it was Christopher Marlowe, a young flower of the Italian Renaissance spirit, who for the first time handled his quill and took to writing dramas, especially tragedies with a bold-new-developed conception especially pertaining to the tragic heroes of English tragedies and the use of language which are characteristically called Marlowvian Tragedies. Dr Faustus which is one of the best creations of Christopher Marlowe is also a Marlowvian Tragedy. Let us discuss Dr Faustus as a Marlowvian Tragedy.

Before Marlowe, the heroes of English dramas were either kings or princes or legendary saints who were the representatives of the medieval outlooks towards life, but it was Marlowe who for the first time overthrew the traditional conception of the heroes and introduced general people of humble birth as his heroes endowed with some bold qualities. His hero is characterized by ambitiousness, suffering from internal and external conflicts, obstinate to meet his only one goal by fair means or foul and he is blessed with the gift of poetry. Dr Faustus who is the hero of the said play is endowed with all these characteristics.

Dr Faustus is neither a king nor a prince nor a saint but only a man of humble birth. At the outset of the play, the chorus introduces him as a common German Scholar.

Dr Faustus is highly ambitious. The first scene of the first act bears the witness that Dr Faustus is well-versed in various branches of knowledge, yet the thirst of knowledge is infinite for him and hence he desires to learn and practice magic through the grace of Devil and he desires to be a deity. He himself reveals his ambitiousness as—

‘A sound magician is mighty God

Here Faustus tire thy brain to gain a deity.”

Ambitious Dr Fanstus is obstinate to meet his aim by fair means or foul. Though the Good Angel and the Bad Angel induce him to their respective paths, yet Dr Fanstus is influenced by none but by his own free choice. He is so much blind to his ambition that he aligns with the Devil and sells his soul and imagines himself to become as mighty as a God.

In the whole range of the English tragedies, Dr Faustus is a tragic hero who for the first time suffers from true external and internal conflict. In him, there seems to have a flow of blood the torrent of which is opposite to both high and low. And the conflict that rises up in his internal mind is exhibited through his external doings. Conflict both external and internal is the essence of tragedy and this essence is conspicuously present in Dr Faustus.

Dr Faustus, the hero of the play by the same name, is blessed with the gift of deep feeling, passionate emotion and powerful imagery and what he utters becomes genuine poetry. As for example:

”Was this face that launched a thousand ships

And burnt the topless of Ilium?

Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss.”

The second thing that Marlowe introduced to English literature through his tragedies is the Blank Verse which is genuine, strong, gorgeous and highly poetic. Before him, there also was blank verse but that was rigid and without the grace and beauty of Marlowe’s. For example, we can quote the flowing lines:

”The stars move still, time runs, the clock will strike

The Devil will come and Faustus must damned 

O I’ll leap my God: who pulls me down?”

These are the elements that Marlowe hatched out of his brain and poured down to his tragedies which gave a new turn to the advancement of English tragedies and in Dr Fanstus these new elements conspicuously and successfully present for which the play may be called a typical Marlowvian tragedy.

Though the play was written under Marlowe’s own conception, yet Marlowe could not come out of the net of the traditional conception of tragedy for which some characteristics of the drama before Marlowe are also present in it. The characteristics that fell upon Dr Faustus due to the influence of the plays created before him are— moral teaching, allegorical and symbolical style, weak characterization and loose structure. 

To conclude it is to say that a Marlowvian Tragedy is a kind of tragedy written by Christopher Marlowe under his own conceptions of the tragic hero and of genuine blank verse keeping intact all the characteristics of the plays before Marlowe.

Here to say more that by introducing the tragic hero and genuine blank verse to English tragedy, Christopher Marlowe created the skeleton and soul of English drama to which Shakespeare added robust flesh with beauty and fragrance forever. In other words, it was Marlowe who paved the unknown path of English tragedy to which Shakespeare added plaster with gold and diamond for long. 0 0 0

Dr Faustus as a Marlowvian Tragedy

Read More: Renaissance Elements in Doctor Faustus

Dr Faustus as a Marlowvian Tragedy

N. B. This article entitled ‘Dr Faustus as a Marlowvian Tragedy’ originally belongs to the book ‘World Drama Criticism‘ by Menonim Menonimus. Dr Faustus as a Marlowvian Tragedy

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I am Menonim Menonimus, a Philosopher & Writer.


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