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Humanism in Doctor Faustus

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Alberto Carolino

on 28 January 2013

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Transcript of Humanism in Doctor Faustus

Humanism - Doctor Faustus By Newsha and Alberto Humanism Humanism in Faustus Faustus' characterization The concluding scenes This can be seen to an extent Humanism represented a shift from the "contemplative life" to the "active life" during the renaissance period. Marlowe is able to effectively argue for and against humanism in the play and both are able to shape not only Faustus' character but also his fate. This has been used by Marlowe to present the ideal for the theory of humanism. Despite the character being able to rise in social status through his own hard work and knowledge, this is still not enough and Marlowe presents the character as needing the involvement of religion and the devil to provide him with the necessary powers to enter into the upper echelons of society. Towards the end of the play we see Faustus being associated with characters of low social order. Faustus has even resorted to playing tricks on a horse-courser. This is a change from the previous character of Faustus seen debating and talking to scholars on intellectual levels in previous scenes. Put simply humanism is the fulfillment of life through reason and science rather than religious devotion and faith. the "contemplative life" originated in the middle ages where contemplation of God and religious devotion where key aspects of life and in fact life revolved around religion. This transition to "active life" occurred during the renaissance period in which people began participating actively in public life and at this point in history individual achievement and personal aspiration flourished. The prologue allows the audience to be confronted with the characters origin and sets up Faustus as a character that grew up with a humble background yet was able to attain his title of Dr. "Now is he born, of parents base of stock" This quote has been used by Marlowe to introduce the character of Faustus as originating from parents of low social rank and initially uses the words "base of stock" to confront the audience with this ordinary man. Although, Marlowe then juxtaposes this initial characterization of Faustus through the line: "That shortly he was graced with Doctors name, excelling all..." This contrast allows readers to see the theme of humanism within the character whereby Faustus is able to gain higher social status from the ambition and hard work undertaken by him, it shows how personal aspiration has allowed the character to build respect within society despite it not being innate to him. Gothic concepts Oppositions can be seen from Faustus' social rank at this stage of the play to that of his birth parents.
The Liminal can also be seen through how the character blurs the boundaries between the social classes by being able to move from low to fairly high class in his lifetime.
some aspects of the revenant are present from the way that Marlowe chooses to describe the past of the character Faustus providing some sense of mystery within the character. "To give me whatsoever I shall ask, To tell me whatsoever I demand, To slay mine enemies and aid my friends" (1,3 [94]) From this quote Marlowe has used irony to portray the use of imperatives by Faustus despite the character being the one asking for power. Within this scene Faustus has made the ultimate sacrifice of his soul in order to be able to raise to a higher status and using occult religious worship to do so. It is also obvious that the character uses the third person when talking and structures sentences in iambic pentameter which is suggestive of the corruptible unnatural speech that the high status characters share in the play. This therefore goes against humanism and presents religion as an underlying factor to position in society. Within this scene Gothic elements are used throughout.

The supernatural is used with the demon Mephostophilis appearing to Faustus along with figures such as the "dragon" which can be seen as representative of hell. Also, the clear presence of supernatrual powers can be seen through the vanishing and appearing of the figures, the appearance of floating by Lucifer and the dragon and the shock of thunder heard by the audience as the demon enters. Obscurity can also be seen in the previous scenes with Faustus with angels being conjured in Faustus' mind to represent the inner turmoil and mental confusion. Horror and abhuman elements can be seen from the grotesque deformed presentation of the demons appearing on stage and the fear that it creates within the audience. The sublime is also seen with the overwhelming of the forces around Faustus and the awareness that if hell exists then the opposition of Heaven and God must therefore also be present in the play. (directed to horse-courser) "Friend...for ten dollars more, take him" This quote from the beginning of scene 5 is able to present Faustus as being associated with people of the same stature as his original upbringing. Further to this the character even bargains for relatively small amounts of change and commits petty acts of evil despite the great knowledge and power he holds. This can be seen as Marlowe upholding the conventional hierarchy with the non-noble elements of his birth also being the cyclical features in his life. Using this viewpoint it is also possible to see that the eventual demise by the character is used by Marlowe as God reinforcing order within society. Although, despite this the audience are still able to see the use of power by Faustus to turn the horse into straw when the horse-courser rode over water. "The horse-courser a bundle of hay for his forty dollars" (4,5[44]) The quote is able to present Faustus as powerful beyond his peers and able to manipulate nature with ease. Marlowe portrays the character from the start as being able to summon Lucifer and demons with his "conjuring speeches" (1,3[46]) from knowledge researched by Faustus on his own and allows for the power behind science and man to be seen as more powerful than that of religion. The supernatural is seen through the use of Faustus' powers in transforming the horse into straw and from the removal of his leg.
otherness can be seen from the non human abilities that the character Faustus is able to do but also from the contract that the character in under that risks his humanity.
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