Genna's Reviews > Doctor Faustus

Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe
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Nov 02, 10


Christopher Marlowe, a contemporary of Shakespeare, was one of the brightest poets of his age. In his Tragical History of Dr. Faustus, he introduces the reader to the title character, a proud man who has learned all there is to learn in medicine and philosophy and still yearns for more. He decides that black magic will be his next frontier, and calls upon a demon named Mephastopholis to teach him the secrets to the dark arts. The demon obliges, and Faustus agrees to give his soul to the devil after 24 years of glory with Mephastopholis. Faustus turns his back on God and reason with this deal, and in the end all of the knowledge, fame, and glory he gains is lost because of his selfish desires to be essentially greater than God. Marlowe creates a thoroughly unlikeable character in Faustus, who ignores repeated offers for forgiveness in favor of complaining and making up excuses as to why he would rather continue with the sinister deal he had made than save his soul. I learned, as a writer, that it is important to keep your character consistant in personality and actions: Faustus never wavers from his original intent, and never lets go of his pride even at the end when his life is slipping away. I also learned a lot about form in prose. Like Shakespeare, Marlowe used poetic language in the form of prose to create a magical, engulfing story that is a lesson and a form of entertainment for the reader or play goer. I also think Marlowe did a fantastic job with using religious symbolism well, and using it to shape his character rather than change his character's mind. Faustus stood apart from other religiously pious characters, and as a writer I found the character of Faustus very compelling despite my dislike of him. Although none of Marlowe's characters are altogether likeable in this play, he still creates a very interesting world for his readers, and I did not want to turn away from it. I think that's the most important thing I took away - a play, novel, or poem can have an unlikeable cast of characters and still be poignant and enthralling.
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