The significance role of Chorus in Dr.Faustus, as we discuss the morality plays in detail, we come to know that morality play is actually a blend or fusion of ‘faith’ & ‘despair.’
The morality plays were being started showing in the later half of the 14th century and became more popular in the 15th century. Most of the morality plays of that time based on the theme of theological importance. In those moralities, there was always a tussle between good and evil forces which ultimately captured man’s soul. Many Elizabethan preachers were of the view that the faith in heaven before heaven, so despair is damnation before time. A deep analysis of Dr. Faustus shows that Marlowe had presented a situation in which a man denied God and became a victim of despair. There, Marlowe’s aim was to teach the doctrines and ethics of Christianity. This very theme of the play shows that Dr. Faustus is a religious or Morality play.
Dr. Faustus meets all the requirements of the English morality traditions of the plays. As morality itself justifies the necessity of humblity, faith and obedience to the laws of God in a man. A prominent critic has rightly termed this play as the most obvious Christian document in all the Elizabethan dramas.
The basic doctrines & beliefs of Christian theology are inherent in every line of this drama. It seems to be a personal tragedy of Marlowe who in all the purposes enacts on the stage a person of the German scholar who was known as a great doctor of theology. The medieval or classical age had great influence on Marlowe’s mind and so this drama was also a mouth piece of that age.
The character of Dr. Faustus, who is a representative of Marlowe’s character, is emotionally attached to necromancy and rejects the Christianity and utters.
These metaphysics of magicians,
And necromantic books are heaven.”
Ellis Fermor comments on the theme and the moral of Dr.Faustus and says:
“It is the loss, then, of this sense of unity, of this hormony between his mind and the universal forces surrounding him, which is the essence of spiritual tragedy, and it is of a loss of this kind that Faustus is the record. We feel in this play that the protagonist has lost his sense of secured contact, his lines of communication are broken.”
It is also said that the central idea of the play is an idea of loss and the magic of which Faustus is practising, is magic that people had been practising since the beginning of the history of thought who followed the wrong way and discovered it, actually those people did not know the right way to follow. The ways of knowledge and the pursuits of truth are hard, barren and often fruitless if these all are achieved or sought in the way that is unnatural or spontaneous to the mind at work. It is often observed that life is a game at which a man is to be ensnared or caught sooner or later because every thing or rule in this game is hidden and a man does not know whether he is to fail or succeed.
There is a wide gulf between man’s nature and ideas’ which absolutely seems to be a huge intellectual cheat. As Dr. Faustus has enjoyed the sexual pleasurable life of 24 years and when the time of its ending comes near then Faustus realizes that he has willfully stepped into necromancy and now there is no way to escape from it. In the last moment of snatching his soul, he himself realizes his mistake and in his soliloquy, he gives expression of his agonized soul in the most poignant manner and utters: –
“My God, my God, look not so fierce on me.
Adders und serpents let me breath a while!
Ugly hell, gap, not! Come not, Lucifer!
I’ll burn my books! Ah, Mephistophilis!”
After watching the last horrible and agonized moment of snatching the soul, Dr. Faustus says in his full senses and intellectually utters:
“I’it burn my books of necromancy
but time is over, and will never come.”
Here, we find Marlowe depicting two traditional ways of miracles and moralities. He presents before us a destiny of a man who denies God intellectually and is finally doomed to eternal damnation of God.
This very thing or view point proves this play a morality play because in Christianity, it is very clearly explained that whoever denies the teachings of Christ, is certainly destined to the eternal damnation of hell. This is the main aim of Marlowe which he wants to show in Dr. Faustus and this very viewpoint is found in the mournful speech of the chorus at the end of the play
“Cut is the branch.that might have grownfull straight.
And burned is Apollo’s laured-bough.
That some times grew within this learned man.
Faustus is gone; regard his hellish fall.
Whose fiendfull fortune may exhort the wise.
Only to wonder at unlawful things.
Whose deepness doth entice such forward wits.
To practise more than heavenly power permits”
In the end we can quote the passage of Hưdson’s book “Marlowe and his poetry”,
“No finer Germen than Masłowe’s Faustùs ever came from the pulpit. What more fearsome exposure was ever offered of the punishment, man brings, upon himself by giving way to temptation of his grosser appetites, as power, beauty, riches and knowledge”.
The closing scene of the play clearly shows the victory of morality when Faustus repents heartfully upon his misdeeds and requests God to come back to religion.
To conclude this topic, it can be said that the inner conflict in his mind and his mental torture at the time of snatching his soul and finally, his eternal damnation have given a lesson of God’s punishment to those who want to gain limitless and endless power and knowledge in order to go beyond the boundaries of nature.
As for as the punishment of Faustus is concerned, is absolutely right because he is punished by God and it is quite a justice. Faustus lost his conscience in the battle of good and evil and he intellectually had chosen the way to hell, abjuring the way of heaven.
The Good Angel is actually the voice of God who urges Faustus to discard the damned and hellish books of magic and to read the scriptures. Though, it is the voice of Faustus’ conscience in the shape of good and bad angels yet Faustus listens & obeys to the Evil angel who, being an agent of Lucifer, encourages, Faustus to continue his study of necromancy which ultimately leads him to his tragic end of life.