Consider Doctor Faustus’ as a Morality Play
Consider Doctor Faustus’ as a Morality Play : The morality play is really a fusion of allegory and the religious drama of the miracle plays. In this play the characters were personified abstractions of vice or virtues such as Good deeds, Faith, Mercy, Anger, Truth, Pride etc.
Doctor Faustus’ as a Morality Play
The theme of the moralities was the struggle between the good and evil powers for capturing the man’s soul and good always won. The morality play often ended with a solemn moral. In the light of these points we may call Marlowe’s “Dr. Faustus” a belated morality play in spite of its tragic ending.
In morality plays the characters were personified abstractions of vice or virtues. In “Dr. Faustus” also we find the Good and Evil angels, the former stand for the path of virtue and the latter for sin and damnation, one for conscience and the other for desires. He symbolizes the forces of righteousness and morality. The seven deadly sins are also there in a grand spectacle to cheer up the despairing soul of Faustus. If the, general theme of morality plays was theological dealing with the struggle of forces of good and evil for man’s soul, then “Dr. Faustus” may be called a religious or morality play to a very great extent.
We find Marlowe’s hero, Faustus, abjuring the scriptures, the Trinity and Christ. He surrenders his soul to the Devil out of his inordinate ambition to gain: “—–a world of profit and delight’ Of power, of honour, of omnipotence.” Through knowledge by mastering the unholy art of magic. About the books of magic, he declares:
“These metaphysics of magicians, And necromantic books are heavenly.”
By selling his soul to the Devil he lives a blasphemous life full of vain and sensual pleasures just for only twenty-four years. There is struggle between his overwhelming ambition and conscience which are externalized by good angel and evil angel. But Faustus has already accepted the opinion of Evil Angel, who says: “Be thou on earth as Jove in the sky.” Faustus is also fascinated by the thought: “A sound magician is a mighty god, Here, Faustus, tire thy brains to gain a deity.” When the final hours approaches, Faustus find himself at the edge of eternal damnation and cries with deep sorrow: “My God, my God, look not so fierce to me!”
Through this story Marlowe gives the lesson that the man, who desires to be God, is doomed to eternal damnation. The chief aim of morality play was didactic. It was a dramatized guide to Christian living and Christian dying. Whosoever discards the path of virtue and faith in God and Christ is destined to despair and eternal damnation— this is also the message of Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus.
The tradition of chorus is also maintained. We find the chorus introducing the story just before the beginning of the first scene and subsequently filling in the gaps in the narrative and announcing the end of the play with a very solemn moral. The appearance of seven deadly sins shows that Marlowe in “Dr. Faustus” adopted some of the conventions of the old Morality plays.
We may conclude in the words of a critic: “Dr. Faustus“ is both the consummation of the English Morality, tradition and the last and the finest of Marlowe’s heroic plays.
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