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Role of the Chorus and its effect on the audience, as seen in Dr Faustus and Murder in the Cathedral

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Introduction

The role of the chorus and its effect on the audiences as seen in the plays: Dr. Faustus and Murder in the Cathedral. The plays Dr Faustus by Marlowe and MITC by TS Eliot, both involve the Christian concept of divinity where God is the Supreme. In Dr Faustus, Marlowe has exemplified this through the protagonist, Faustus who trancedes from a scholarly person to a cheap trickster with devolved morals and character as the plot unfolds. In his ambitious quest for power and glory through forbidden knowledge in areas like Necromancy and association with Lucifer leads Faustus to ignore that Christian doctrine forbids any human to be at par with God. In doing so he deviates towards the path of corruption. In MITC, the protagonist - the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Beckett represents Faustus' spiritual counterpart. Where Faustus' open defiance of God and love of materialistic pleasures rule his heart, Beckett's selflessness and open rejection of glory through his desire to bring his people back to Godly ways through martyrdom makes Faustus' selling away of his own soul, contrast sharply with Beckett's spiritual-self. ...read more.

Middle

The story of Icarus' downfall is brought out in direct comparison to Faustus' life. The Chorus has thus described the downfall of Faustus for he 'becomes swollen with cunning'; pride and arrogance are what lead to his downfall. The chorus then concludes the 1st scene by referring to Faustus as 'the man in his study sits'. As the play ends, the chorus appears again and brings out the moral to the audience; it makes the audience reflect on what has happened in the play. Like a well-informed observer, the chorus makes wise reflections on what has occurred. In doing so, the chorus fulfills it purpose. In pursuit of power beyond human limitation, Faustus devolves into an altogether different person from what he was before he starts learning magic. This leads to one of the main morals of the story which goes to show that power can lead to corruption. Faustus soul is carried away by devils; this invariably makes Faustus earn some amount of sympathy for his damnation. The scholars agree to pray for him and as the clock strikes twelve, the audience is left with a feeling of a bitter end for Faustus. ...read more.

Conclusion

The chorus mediates between the action and the audience. It helps to intensify the action by projecting its emotional consequences, so that the audience sees it doubly by seeing its effect on other people. It has also helped bring out contemporary issues in the play like, the effect of a corrupted law system on the lower sections of society; their plight can be clearly seen in the chorus. The tone of the chorus turns from desperation to despair. There is animal imagery in their speech and they see sure death for Becket as the plot unfolds. The speech of the chorus is somewhat colloquial; it captures the attention of the audience and bridges the gap between the spiritual level of the theme of the play and the everyday experience of the audience. By the end of the play the Chorus has brought out the mercy of Christ through the martyrdom of Becket. This is an essential feature of the theme of the play and leaves the people of Canterbury or rather the chorus to look into themselves for their faults. They 'fear the injustice of men more than the justice of God'. In achieving martyrdom, Becket achieves what he desires, the good of his people and their turning to god's ways. ...read more.

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