• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Can Faustus truly be regarded as a tragic hero?

Extracts from this document...


Elena Solaro 13M Can Faustus truly be regarded as a tragic hero? Much of the information in Dr Faustus is derived from a collection of semi-fictitious German stories (the 'Faustbuch') in which the life of German scholar and purported necromancer, Georgius Faust are narrated. Where the Faustbuch narrates a simple tale of sin and retribution, Marlowe creates a tragedy in which a human being makes a clear choice for good or bad, with some knowledge of the possible outcome. In order to do this, Marlowe has drawn on the conventions of classical Greek tragedy, many of which dictate the nature of the hero or heroine. In ancient times, a hero achieved heroic status not because of saintliness or wickedness, but because of the acts he performed in life. The hero should have a socially elevated status and suffer a reversal of fortune in which he experiences great suffering. This is all certainly true of Faustus, who is highly regarded as both a lecturer at the University of Wittenberg, and an accomplished scholar. During his life, he performs extraordinary feats, which were unlike anything experienced by lesser mortals. ...read more.


Faustus is given a chance to repent on several occasions; before signing the contract with Mephastophilis, he seems to heed the voice of the good angel, and is about to "turn to God again", but denies this as a possibility because God does not love him. However, despite the "vain fancies" of God and heaven which clearly plague him, Faustus is resolute and clear about what he is committing himself to. Here, we see another trait of the classical tragic hero, hell bent on a course of action which he believes is right, even thought he knows it will eventually bring about his downfall. Even at the very end of his 24 years, when the hope of salvation comes along in the form of the old man, Faustus (fearful of the wrath of Lucifer) instructs "sweet Mephastophilis" to torture his would-be saviour. When Faustus chooses to kiss the image of Helen of Troy, whom he knows is nothing more than a demonic spirit in disguise, we feel that he must realise he has made a fatal choice. ...read more.


Despite the fact that Faustus essentially cheats, twisting quotes from the Bible in order to justify his intended pursuit, one cannot help but feel that he shows insight into the problems raised by fate/free will, concluding that what is meant to be shall be ("che sara, sara"). In conclusion I would say that for the most part, Faustus is the perfect example of the tragic hero. He is an engaging character who holds the audiences' attention until the very last, even when we do not find his personality particularly appealing. Indeed, the arrogance and blasphemy apparent in many of Faustus' speeches ("a greater subject fitteth Faustus' wit", "Faustus, try thy brains to gain a deity" etc) are characteristic of the classical tragic hero. For example, Faustus' pride and arrogance (which the Greeks called 'hubris') is strikingly similar to that of Aeschylus' tragic hero, king Agamemnon. As far as the issue of free will is concerned, I think that Faustus does have the opportunity to make his own decisions, despite Marlowe's paradoxical portrayal of a God whom, whilst able to control our predestination, cannot (when it comes down to it) control or undo the contract which Faustus makes. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Christopher Marlowe section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Christopher Marlowe essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Can Faustus truly be regarded as a tragic hero

    4 star(s)

    His terror, desperation and frantic hopes are all conveyed by the final soliloquy, which is both graphic and physical in its nature. The dramatic moment of Faustus' death, as his flesh is torn by devils, is at the same time horrendous and moving.

  2. Choruses - what is the importance of these speeches in 'Dr. Faustus?

    How they are performed though is arguably less important than the function they serve. As the play is set over a period of over twenty years, the choruses give the feeling that time is passing.

  1. 'Compare the ways that Marlowe and Chaucer present the theme of sin in 'Dr ...

    Both authors also seek to further the point that sin comes about by the devil taking advantage of one's personal weaknesses. In 'The Pardoner's Tale', the Pardoner tells us that 'the fiend, our enemy' put the idea of poisoning his fellows into the mind of the third reveller, which goes

  2. How Successfully Does Marlowe portrayal of Faustus reflect the attitudes and beliefs of Elizabethan ...

    The play emphasizes the idea that if you turn away from God you will be damned. The play also however gives a different idea of what hell is. It was believed at the time that hell was a place and images of fire etc were widely used to show what it looked like.

  1. Marlowes original title was The Tragicall history of Dr. Faustus. To what extent do ...

    In addition, Mephistophilis actually conducted the necromancy, as seen in Elizabeth Frierstone's production whereby Mephistophilis is the one tormenting the Pope and the friars. The audience would have enjoyed this scene as the audience was Protestant and naturally, at

  2. What does Marlowe's presentation of Mephastophilis tell an audience about sixteen century ideas of ...

    In these scenes of the play Marlowe instils a strong moral warning in the medieval audience encouraging them to steer well clear of any pact with devil to prevent any chance of becoming entrapped like it appears Faustus has become.

  1. Faustus: Renaissance Martyr or Tragic Hero

    During the next five years he lived in London where he wrote and produced some of his plays and traveled a great deal on government commissions, something that he had done while trying to earn his M.A. degree. In 1589, however, he was imprisoned for taking part in a street

  2. In what ways and with what effects does 'Dr. Faustus' question the acquisition and ...

    It seems to me that he overlooks the fact that instead of dying and going to heaven he will have to live forever in hell. This tragic belief that he might be able to overcome his damnation and gain anything but evil by bargaining with the devil who is

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work