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Dr. Faustus: Show how Elizabethan beliefs in heaven and hell influence the play.

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Introduction

DR. FAUSTUS: Show how Elizabethan beliefs in heaven and hell influence the play. By Hayley Sheath 12MF. This essay will explore how Marlowe uses Renaissance beliefs in heaven and hell to direct the play. This essay will include how Elizabethan views influence Faustus' character, the Renaissance curiosity of heaven and hell, how heaven and hell are represented by the Good and Evil angels, how beliefs in heaven and hell are used to shock the audience and the fear of hell. This essay will focus mainly on Scene 5 of the play. The Elizabethan audience had traditional Christian beliefs of heaven and hell; and tried their best to obey God and join Him in heaven. Marlowe deliberately challenges Elizabethan beliefs in the play, by making the character of Faustus dare God and religion, which was typical of the Renaissance period. Faustus is an Atheist; this is shown in Scene 5- 'Come, I think hell's a fable.' In discussing hell, Faustus shows his Atheism, because Christians believe that God will always forgive, and so as long as you believe in God, you will go to heaven. ...read more.

Middle

The Good and Evil Angels represent Faustus' conscience and shows that he does have doubts. However, the Evil Angel overpowers the Good Angel because he is seductive and tempts Faustus with goods to feed his Renaissance greed. The Evil Angel says 'No Faustus, think of honour and wealth.' Faustus follows the Evil Angel because he has Renaissance gluttony. Faustus expresses unstable beliefs, another trait of the Renaissance, during Scene 5, when he signs the contract. For example, if he does not believe in God, how can he have a soul to sell? This scene would shock the Elizabethan audience, as Faustus purposely defies God by signing a pact with the Devil. This would be the ultimate sin to Christians. The audience are also stunned when the Unholy Trinity of Lucifer, Belzebub, and Mephastophilis enter scene 5. Marlowe intentionally uses these to coincide with the Christian idea of The Father, The Son, and Holy Spirit. The Elizabethan audience would be outraged at such blatant mockery of God. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is shown by the quote 'yea, heaven itself, heaven the seat of God, the throne of the blessed, the kingdom of joy; and must remain in hell forever-hell, ah, hell for ever!' The stress on heaven shows Faustus' fear, and the repetition shows how Faustus is losing the plot- he has no control over his life, he will be damned. It seems that finally Faustus has realised hell is real, and this leads to despair and panic. The quote also shows how Faustus regrets his decision, and now wants to join God in heaven. The use of exclamation marks conveys the emotion Faustus is feeling, and the commas indicate that time is running out and how desperate Faustus is. This scene allows Marlowe to put a message across to the Elizabethan audience- Do not be a victim to the Renaissance, know your limits. In conclusion, Marlowe uses heaven and hell to shock the audience, by going against their traditional beliefs and uses the Renaissance to shape Faustus, and his beliefs in heaven and hell, which creates fear, curiosity, and entertainment for the audience. ...read more.

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