Dr. Faustus as a spiritual Tragedy
Dr Faustus as a spiritual play : Discuss that ‘Dr. Faustus’ brings to light an eternal conflict between the forces of good and evil. Or ‘Dr. Faustus’ is more like a morality play than like an Elizabethan play. Or Discuss ‘Dr. Faustus’ as a spiritual play. Or Describe the relevance of reading ‘Dr. Faustus’ in 21st century. Or Discuss ‘Dr. Faustus’ as an allegorical play. Or Discuss that Christopher Marlowe’s ‘Dr. Faustus’ stresses the importance of soul on the one hand and firm faith in God on the other. Or Discuss ‘Dr. Faustus’ as a symbolical play.
Dr. Faustus as a spiritual Tragedy
Christopher Marlowe’s ‘Dr. Faustus‘ is a popular symbolical play. ‘Dr. Faustus’ presents a number of symbols that stand for a vice or virtue. The play deals with the importance of soul and firm faith in God. It accounts for the universal conflict between good and evil. Lucifer, Beelzebub and Mephistophilis are symbol of evil. Good is represented by Good angels, the old man and God.
Symbolic characters –
The symbolic characters fill the play and may be divided on the ground of good and evil. God is the supreme good in the traditional way. Good angels represent noble thoughts and old man represents faith, experience and age. Lucifer, Beelzebub, Mephistophilis, Helen and evil angels stand for evil. Dr. Faustus’ soul is the arena on which the forces of good and evil struggle to get hold of it.
In this play, other things too give their symbolical sense. For example, heaven, blessed braches of learning, salvation and repentance are symbol of good. Worldly pleasures, ambition, magic, honour, hell, pride, envy, greed, gluttony, lechery, sloth, anger and damnation are symbol of evil. Marriage and wife represent good while mistress represents evil. In. short, in this play, everything gives a symbolic meaning also.
Symbolical interpretation of the play-
A symbolical interpretation of the play makes everything clear. Dr. Faustus has firm faith in God. Devotion to studies shows it. He has mastered all the branches of learning. He is the greatest scholar in religion. Dr. Faustus represents good. His Renaissance ambition disturbs peace of mind. He longs for limitless power. It marks his shifting from good to evil. He decides to be a magician. He believes books of magic are heavenly. He believes that a perfect magician lives in a world of profit and delight.
Salvation versus pleasure-
Salvation is heavenly bliss that represents good. But Faustus does not care for soul and salvation. For him, heaven and hell are fable. He does not agree with Mephistophilis who claims for the existence of heaven and hell. Mephistophilis tells Faustus that hell is not a particular place. A place becomes hell if it is dominated by evil. Mephistophilis informs Faustus if he wishes to have twenty-four years of worldly pleasures, Faustus should write in his own blood the deed of gift.
Faustus stabs his arm to get blood, but his blood freezes so hard that writing is not possible. Mephistophilis brings fire and melts the blood. The blood becomes clear and he writes the deed.
Illusion of success-
It is illusion of success that Lucifer may grant power more than God. Faustus writes the deed and becomes happy. He has given his soul to Lucifer. Mephistophilis becomes Faustus’ attendant to offer him whatever he demands. Faustus wishes to have a wife, but Mephistophilis asks him to be satisfied with a mistress, perfect in giving sexual pleasures.
Now Faustus thinks that magic will not make him powerful. Mephistophilis has misguided him. Faustus decides to give up magic and repent for his sin. Faustus fails to decide if it was right to practise magic. Magic has deprived Faustus of heavenly blessings. But magic has provided him with rare pleasures also. Faustus’ heart is so hard that he cannot repent. He has no faith in salvation, God, or heaven.
Domination of evil-
Faustus passes his whole time in worldly pleasures and feasts with the students. An old man enters. He is symbol of wisdom and experience. He wishes to guide Faustus. Faustus is lost in worldly pleasures. Seeing it, the old man feels sorry. He wishes to guide and bring Dr. Faustus back on the right way of life. Otherwise, Faustus will not get salvation. Old man advises Faustus to give up his sinful activities. Faustus should repent for his sins. He should confess by breaking heart to drop blood, mixed with tears. It is aroused by true sorrow. According to the old man, Faustus’ heart is full of the ugliest sin. Its bed smell corrupts his soul. Only the mercy of God may save him from this heavy guilt. The stains of guilt are washed only with Christ’s blood. Evil dominates and Faustus asks Mephistophilis to torment the old man who provoked him to revolt against Lucifer.
Spirit of escapism-
In place of recognizing the truth and feeling sorry, Faustus decides to escape his fate. All the intoxications are symbol of it. Faustus has discovered his tragedy, Faustus is frightened and willing to forget his misfortune. Faustus requests Mephistophilis to provide him with heavenly Helen of Troy as his mistress.
Was this the face that launch’d a thousand ships?
And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?
Faustus wonders looking at Helen’s attractive face and understands why a thousand ships took part in the horrible battle of Troy and the high towers of Troy were destroyed for this lady. Helen is immortal for her beauty is immortal. Faustus asks Helen to make him immortal with a kiss. Her kiss is so deep that Faustus fears her lips suck forth his soul. He asks her not to fly with his soul and requests her to give him back his soul again. Her way of loving is so charming that Faustus decides to live with her. According to him, heavenly joys are provided by her lips. He declares only Helena is worthy and all other things are worthless.
A cry over spilt milk-
It is too late. Just at the end of Faustus’ life, he feels sorry for his sin of selling his soul to Lucifer. But it is as useless as a cry over spilt milk. The clock strikes eleven. Only one hour is left in Faustus’ life. Faustus is alarmed to think that he has only one hour to live. His cursed death is at hand. His death is cursed for he is deprived of salvation. His soul is bound to be tortured in hell. He makes a foolish wish that the sun and the moon should not move. If they stop, time will stop and midnight will never come.
Faustus hopes that in that condition death will never come. He requests the sun to rise and rise again to make a morning and that morning should be everlasting. In this way, the midnight will never come. He prays God to make this hour as long as a year, a month, a week, or a natural day. Faustus is willing to have sufficient time to repent for his past sins. He hopes to save his soul from going to hell in this way. But it is too late and Faustus is bound to die and suffer bitter punishment.
Wages of sin–
It is an old saying that wages of sin is death. Faustus’ end is tragic. It is inspiring too. Faustus’ untimely tragic death should be taken as a lesson. It warns all the scholars to be far from unlawful things. There is no need to take interest in them. Their deep knowledge may attract them to do those sinful activities that are forbidden. No man is more cunning than Lucifer. If once Lucifer feels that he may win the soul of anybody, he spreads his net so nicely that a scholar like Faustus who was expert in religious studies gave up God for Lucifer.
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