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"In Dr Faustus Marlowe is only incidentally concerned with the state of Faustus' soul: his main interest lies in the nature and limits of human desire." Do you agree?

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"In Dr Faustus Marlowe is only incidentally concerned with the state of Faustus' soul: his main interest lies in the nature and limits of human desire." Do you agree? Having read Dr Faustus, the main themes are fairly obvious and the state of Faustus' soul and the exploration of human desire are certainly two of these. The two ideas, however, are connected in the fact that human desire is a part of someone's soul, that is to say the 'moral and emotional part of a person' (Oxford Dictionary). The reason I highlight this point is because it would be impossible to determine which of the two themes in question where of a higher interest to Marlowe without paying attention to this fact and the fact that a person's soul will limit their desires. While doing this I will also pay attention to Marlowe himself, his own life and the time in which he lived in an attempt to predict which theme was more important to him personally, therefore adding to the evidence I will gain from the text. At the beginning of the text Faustus' opening speech 'is devoted to working out logically why he is willing to sacrifice both the road to honest knowledge and his soul in favour of more power' (www.gladstone.uoregon.com). ...read more.


This brings up the possibility that Marlowe was, perhaps, not interested in either Faustus' soul or the 'nature and limits of human desire' but wrote this play merely because he enjoyed being controversial and to do this he had to focus on human desire and behaviour. Having said this Marlowe's life and interests could be quite important to this essay in determining whether he cared more for the examination of the nature of human desire or for Faustus' soul. Having read about him it is easy to say that he would care more for the nature of human desires, not because he shows interest in this topic but because from the things he said and from the way he died people get the idea that he did not care about the state of anybody's soul! Marlowe is considered an atheist ('Christ was a bastard and his mother dishonest' www.wwnorton.com), and it has been suggested that, if you ignore the humanist qualities of Faustus, he modelled the character on himself ('...in more specific ways Marlowe must have recognised in Faustus his own counterpart.' Boas, 208). Faustus certainly had some of the same desires as his creator, Marlowe like most Renaissance writers had a keen interest in the ancient Greeks and Romans, and their ideas. ...read more.


Faustus never does any of this, he is permanently under the control of Mephastophilis and everything he does is fairly unimpressive considering he has the power of the devil in his command. This shows the limits of human desire, what we do not have we wish for but when we get the opportunity to get it we waste it. 'Then in the dim, uncontrollable regions of the mind would wait the persuasion of guilt, the ancient terror of Gods anger. The course of Marlowe's life and of his plays does not indicate that he ever allowed these elements in his nature to dominate him.' (Kocher, 119). I think the fact that Marlowe was an incredibly talented playwright is the only reason he allowed the state of Faustus' soul to come into the play, he knew the play must appeal to others, and that it would not make sense without it, but even then the focus on the subject is limited. He was not the type of person to care for an examination of someone's emotions or even to care whether they were eternally damned. I firmly believe, however, that he wrote the play as a way of getting at the humanists he so disapproved of, and in order to do that he used something he was genuinely interested in, human desire. Word count: 2,163. ...read more.

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