Dr. Faustus as a Renaissance Tragic Hero one of the Marlowe’s plays.When we have deep analysis of Marlowe’s plays, we come to know that there is a great depiction of the spirit of Renaissance in these. Marlowe’s age had been influenced by the Renaissance spirit because there was also much influence of the Machiavellian spirit in all the ways of life of people of that age. Machiavelli (1469 – 1527) Florentine statesman, was of the views that whatever desire or wish for gaining something was to be erupted in some one’s disposition, should have been executed or fulfilled at any cost or by hook and crook method.
The teachings and preachings of Machiavelli were very much acted upon or practiced by the people of Marlowe’s age. As the Renaissance spirit had already influenced the people, they wanted to become prominent and eminent in the society by any trait of life or in any way of life. As we know that Christopher Marlowe was himself born in Renaissance age and that was the age of bearing newness or getting knowledge of new things & facts of life. People of Marlowe’s age were in the competition of getting more and more power, wealth, social position and status, authority, knowledge, etc. in order to be prominent among other people. So, whatever Marlowe observed and felt in his society, he clearly conveyed or presented in his plays.
Christopher Marlowe, more than Shakespeare, was a representative playwright of Renaissance. Owing to the influence of the spirit of Renaissance, there was much spirit of lust & greed in people of that age. When we study his four plays, Tamburlaine, Dr. Faustus, Jew of Malta and Edward II in detail, we find full fledged expression of the entire age with all its colours, attractions and dashing adventures. These above mentioned four flays present the lust for power, lust for getting knowledge, greed or lust for wealth and lust for beauty which were the prominent features or traits of Renaissance spirit of that age.
Dr. Faustus, the hero of the play, is an outstanding figure with all the ornaments of the Renaissance, as his character presents a great yearning for limitless power, pelf of the world and lust for knowledge. His character also presents a craving for sexual pleasure in life. He also very strongly revolts against the conventional religious doctrines and Christian theology. The most prominent characteristic of Renaissance was individualism which ultimately aroused the spirit of revolt to free the human mind from the shackles and teachings & preachings of the dogmas of the church and feudalism.
As Dr. Faustus accepts or adopts all the worldly ornaments without any hesitation and abjures all branches of knowledge; here, he willfully utters:-
Phylosophy is odious and obscure.
Both law and physic are for pettywits.
Divinity is basest of the three, unpleasant, harsh, contemptible and vile.
“Tis magic, magic that hath ravished me”.
It means to say that philosophy, physics and divinity which are the subjects of great knowledge, are rejected by him intellectually but he willfully elects only magic.. Here, we find Dr. Faustus violently but intellectually breaking the limits or boundaries of the Medieval restrictions of the Christian religion. As Dr. Faustus had been allured by necromancy in which he found realism and he uttered:
O” what a world of profit and delight.
Power, of honour, of omnipotence.
Is promised to the studious Ortizen!
All things that move between the quiet polls.
Shall be at my command.
Here, in this Dr. Faustus’ soliloquy we find him to be too much ambitious of expressing his desires of black magic in which he has been too much fascinated by materialism that he leaves every side of spirituality.
All these willful assertions of Dr. Faustus reveal the Renaissance spirit in which he has unbridled aspiration of worldliness and this very spirit shapes him discarding God and all the religious and moral principles. For this, Faustus sells his soul and buys eternal damnation which is absolutely an ugly bargaining from his side.
As Dr. Faustus becomes able to get everything of the world through black arts of magic and he begins gratifying the sensual pleasure of life. In other words, he becomes a beauty worshiper. He commands Mephistopheles to get the most beautiful German maid as his wife and to find heaven in her lips:
“Sweet Hellen, make mie immortal with a kiss.
Her lips such forth my soul: see where it flies.
Come: Helen, come, give me my soul again.
Here will I dwell for heaven is in these lips.
And all is dross that is not Helena”.
Dr. Faustus is here at the apex of beauty worship yet he years more for sensuous pleasures which presents a true picture of the Renaissance period. Not only Dr. Faustus but all the towering heroes of Marlowe’s plays are really true representatives of the spirit of Renaissance because Marlowe was himself a product of that age and he invariably projected his personality.
So, we come to know that all the outstanding heroes of Marlowe’s plays discard all the principles of morality, religious teachings, Divinity and ethics. Being an absolute ruler on the throne of the Renaissance with full command as uttered by:
“All things that move between the quiet poles, shall be at my command.”
The good and evil angels which are the symbol of his conscience and Evil Angel urges Faustus to carry on his art of learning magic in order to become lord and commander of the earth. This very spirit of evilness also shows the natural ideal of Renaissance in which a young soul of Faustus is captured.
To conclude this topic, it can be said that Faustus is a child of the Renaissance who cannot resist the devil’s allurements. This play of Marlowe absolutely presents the true spirit of Renaissance in its full colours. Dr. Faustus’ love of life, for his trust in nature, for his enthusiasm for beauty are the real spirits of Renaissance age. Faustus who had been affected by Renaissance values which were power, curious knowledge, enterprise, wealth and beauty, actually showed Marlowe’s own passion for these values.