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A Treatise on Marlowe's Use of the BODY-SOUL dichotomy/contrast.

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Introduction

DR. FAUSTUS - CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE A Treatise on Marlowe's Use of the BODY-SOUL dichotomy/contrast The underlying theme of Marlowe's Dr. Faustus is a contrast of opposites. This theme covers a broad range of other elements and sub-themes in the play, such as: * Good vs. Evil * Good Angel vs. Evil Angel * The Humorous vs. The Grotesque * The Master vs. The Servant (and vice-versa) * Physical vs. Spiritual (Body vs. Soul) The use of contrasting images and/or ideas has always been an effective device used in literature, albeit a heavily used one. In Dr. Faustus, Marlowe uses a dichotomy separating the 'bodily' elements from the 'spiritual' ones. It is interesting to note, at this point, that out of thirty-four 'named' characters in the cast, sixteen of them happen to be spiritual entities of some sort, excluding miscellaneous 'devils' and the Doctor himself. ...read more.

Middle

Faustus' personality, which being his passion and zest for knowledge, is essentially his soul. Through Marlowe's panache with words, Faustus' 'soul' is imbued with an almost fiery aura. This is a powerful contrast with the physically still model of Faustus sitting at his study, and the result is an amazing image. Instances of the Body-Soul dichotomy occur many times throughout the play, some of which are within Faustus' speech and dialogue itself: * "How I am glutted with conceit of this!" - scene 1, l.80 o Contrast between a physical fullness and an emotion * "Why this is hell, nor am I out of it." - scene 3, l.77 o Implies that hell is a state of mind, rather than an actual place * "I cut mine arm, and with my proper blood Assure my soul to be great Lucifer's..." - scene 5, ll.54-55 o Is one of the major images to do with the body-soul dichotomy, the sacrificing of the body and its blood is a separate process from the offering of the soul to Lucifer. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is a state of being that a greater part of humans experience in their reckless and impetuous youths, when they seek to break human records and achieve their lifetime victories. This is the basic empathizing force in the play to draw the audience close. Marlowe's use of the body-soul dichotomy is the main attraction in the play. The contrast between graphic physicality and the depths of the human mind frame and emotion result in quite vivid imagery. The many dichotomies that occur throughout the play after Faustus' acquisition of his power culminate in the doctor himself being 'dismembered' from his physical body as he prepares to enter the domain of Lucifer, and the final 'union' of his physical body with the spirit realm, in the form of Helena. Faustus' 'Helena' speech is not only beautiful by itself, but also re-illustrates Faustus' self-condemnation to the audience. The oxymoronic, almost paradoxical play ends with the soul of the damned Faustus being ripped away in an ironically physical manner. ...read more.

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