• 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...

Introduction

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.

Middle

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.

Conclusion

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. How far would you say that the novel is not so much about Brighton ...

    Ida, like Dallow only believes in what she sees, she is superstitious, being quite ready to believe in a spirit world but not, as Pinkie does, in the vision of damnation and hell fire. This is contrasted with Ida's care free approach to life, she sees it as a series

  1. What does the play show us about attitudes to sin and damnation?

    If Faustus was damned from the very beginning it might have been because he was questioning his position in this hierarchy by striving to "become a deity". In Faustus' time devils and spirits were believed to really exist and figures that could be conjured so it must have been quite

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

    Interestingly, the 'B' text shows that Mephistophilis actually controlled what Faustus was reading in the biblical texts, resulting in Faustus misunderstanding gods message. Faustus's lack of understanding because of Mephistophilis therefore makes him an even greater tragic figure as he then appears to have never had a chance of redeeming

  1. "In Dr Faustus Marlowe is only incidentally concerned with the state of Faustus' soul: ...

    His character's downfall is due to the fact that he is a human; and the reason this causes his downfall is because of his natural animalistic instincts to gain power. This is something that a humanist would loath to be said, Renaissance Humanists 'tended to emphasise the values achievable by human beings' (Abram, 83)

  2. "Look again at Faustus' opening soliloquy, from 'Settle thy studies, Faustus, and begin' to ...

    This will provide further evidence to the audience that he is highly intellectual - his ability later in this soliloquy to fluently switch between English and Latin and the ability to instantly think up quotes without difficulty will be seen as very impressive.

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

    We first see Faustus' arrogance in the opening scene, when he tells us that his 'common talk' are 'sound aphorisms', and his self-important nature soon leads him to succumb to the chance to become 'a mighty god' by the conclusion of the play.

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

    There is a parallel between the experiences of Mephastophilis and that of Faustus. Just as Faustus now is, Mephastophilis was once prideful and rebelled against God; like Faustus he is damned forever for his sin. Perhaps because of this connection Mephastophilis cannot accept Faustus' cheerful dismissal of hell in the name of 'manly fortitude'.

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