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Comment on the relationship between the comic and serious material in Dr Faustus.

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Introduction

Comment on the relationship between the comic and serious material in Dr Faustus During the Elizabethan period in England comedy was a crucial component in any drama production. Although Elizabethan audiences loved diversity in their entertainment, it was rare to see a play containing both comedy and tragedy. Because of this Dr Faustus would have presented the Elizabethan audience with a new genre of entertainment. Elizabethan dramatists tended not to mix comedy and tragedy together and because of this Marlowe was a pioneer for his time, although he was probably simply recognising the Elizabethans love of diversity. Other playwrights of the time, for example Shakespeare did include some comedic characters such as the fool in King Lear and Puck in A Midsummer night's dream but Marlowe was the first playwright to include whole comic scenes into his works. During the Middle ages audiences loved intervals when watching heavy miracle and morality plays in which to watch more light hearted and farcical things such as clowns, therefore Dr Faustus would have been very entertaining for audiences at that time because of its comic elements. Because of the religious climate at that time in England, using the pope as the butt of Marlowe's satire would have provided entertainment for the mainly protestant audiences and created an attack on Roman Catholicism which would have been amusing in that period. ...read more.

Middle

This shows that although the Clown desires power on a much lower level than Faustus, both characters essentially crave the power of magic. The Clown only longs for meagre, yet realistic things such as stealing ale but these desires can be realised because they are practical goals. However, it is ironic that Faustus talks about great things such as "The signory of Emden shall be mine" and in the end all he really ends up with is the power to perform lowly tricks. In this way it is possible to compare Faustus with the clown because by the end of the play Faustus' power is only really as great as the Clown's is. This scene would have provided a welcome interlude to the heavy drama of the rest of the play and the audience would have found it entertaining and whimsical. However most of the comic subplots have a graver undertone because they help to demonstrate the severity of Faustus' situation. There would be a lot of licence for the clown to use movement and to ad-lib the scene, which would have also provided the audience with light, silly entertainment. The next scene in Dr Faustus that contains comic references is Scene five. ...read more.

Conclusion

This just shows how absurd and confused Faustus has become that he needs to play vindictive tricks on a horse- courser to demonstrate his power. This is the final comic scene in the whole play, mainly due to the fact that Faustus meets his impending doom in the final two scenes and there is no need or space for comedy. The fact that this is the final comic scene also emphasises the severity of Faustus' last hours. In Conclusion it seems quite clear that Marlowe used a mixture of comedy and tragedy because of the period in which he was writing. The Elizabethans loved innovative works and variety in their entertainment. Because of this Marlowe delivered the greatest form of contrast he could by mixing a comedy and tragedy. The critic's view that the comic scenes were written by a collaborator and not Marlowe seems absurd because they are so wonderfully inter-linked with the main plot to have been written separately. The comic scenes that mirror Faustus' actions also seem to appear in every other scene from Scenes three to ten which cannot have been an accident. Marlowe created a beautiful and innovative piece of literature through Dr Faustus, which should be recognised in terms of its flawless use of prose and its brilliantly crafted medley of comedy and tragedy ...read more.

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