Renaissance Elements in Doctor Faustus

Renaissance Elements in Doctor Faustus

Renaissance Elements in Doctor Faustus : The Renaissance man was fascinated by new learning and knowledge. He took all knowledge to be his province. He regarded knowledge to be power. He developed an insatiable thirst for further curiosity, knowledge, power, beauty, riches, worldly pleasures and the like.

Renaissance Elements in Doctor Faustus

The writer of this age represented their age in their work. Marlowe is the greatest and truest representative of his age. So the Renaissance influence is seen in every one of his plays. Dr. Faustus represents the Renaissance spirit in various ways.

Thirst for Knowledge / Intellectual Curiosity

The most important desire of the Renaissance man finds expression in Dr. Faustus. He has an unequalled thirst for knowledge and power to be acquired with the help of that knowledge. In the very beginning of the play Dr. Faustus is found considering the importance of various subjects which he may study. He has already studied various subjects at the universities and impressed scholars with his knowledge.

After considering the relative importance of various subjects as – Logic, Metaphysics, Medicine, Law and Theology – he concludes that they can give knowledge but no power. He remarks, ‘Yet art thou still but Faustus, and a man’. So he decided to study the ‘Metaphysics of Magician’ and regarded ‘necromantic books as heavenly’. With the help of this knowledge he wants to acquire power and become ‘as powerful as Jove in the sky’. 

There was an intellectual curiosity during the Renaissance. The new discoveries in science and developments in technology went beyond mere material advances. It was a youthful age to which nothing seems impossible. Before the European, this period opened a new world of imagination. All these things stirred men’s imagination and led them to believe that the infinite was attainable. In Dr. Faustus, Marlowe has expressed such ideas, when Faustus says:

O, what a world of profit and delight, 

Of power, of honour, of omnipotence, 

Is promised to the studious artisan! 

All things that move between the quiet poles

Shall be at my command.

Wealth and Exploration

The Renaissance man desired wealth and worldly pleasures. After his agreement with the Devil he would have spirits at his command to do whatever he liked. He would like them to bring gold from India, pearls from oceans and delicacies from every part of the world. In this way he would have a lot of power and wealth to enjoy worldly pleasures. Like the Renaissance man Dr. Faustus wanted to travel across the world. So with the help of Mephistopheles he traveled to distant countries. And

He views the clouds, the planets and the stars

The tropes, zones, and quarters of the sky

From east to west his dragons swiftly glide.

Love of Beauty

Besides having love of knowledge, power, worldly pleasures Dr. Faustus has the Renaissance love of beauty, so he wanted to have a wife the fairest maid that is in Germany. As he wanted to see the most beautiful woman in the world, he conjured the vision of Helen. He expressed his feeling of great delight in the following words

Was this the face that launched a thousand ships?

And burnt the topless tower of Ilium.

Disregard for the Authority of the Pope

The Reformation was a companion movement of the Renaissance. The Protestants challenged the authority of the Pope and disregarded him. Dr. Faustus not only disregarded the Pope and the Bishops, when he stayed in Pope’s place, but gave him a box on the ear. He also made fun of bishops because he pointed that they were interested in only belly cheer.

 Read it also: Characteristic Features of Transcendentalism

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