Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Doctor Faustus As a Morality Play

Name: Joshi Toral B.

Paper: 1

Renaissance Literature

Topic: Doctor Faustus As a Morality Play

SEM: 3

M.A.- II

Year: 2012

Submitted to,
Dr.Dilip Barad,

M.K. Bhavnagar University,

Doctor Faustus as a Morality play

The morality was one of the early forms of drama. It developed out of the mystery and miracle plays and it flourished during the middle ages, attaining much popularity in the first half of the fifteenth century.
“The morality differed from the miracle play in that it was not concerned with presenting a Biblical story with named characters, but rather a play conveying a moral truth or lesson by means of personified abstractions. The morality at bottom dealt with some problem of Good and Evil”

            The basic benefits of the Christianity are inherent in every line of Doctor Faustus and the doctrine of damnation pervades it. The devil and hell are omnipresent in this play and are terrifying realities. Faustus make a bargain with the devil, and for the sake of earthly learning, earthly power and earthly satisfaction goes down to the to horrible and everlasting perdition. The “Hero” is depicted as a wretched creature who for lover values give up higher ones. Thus, the drama is morality play in which heaven suggested with hell for the soul of Renaissance “Everymen” who the battle on account of his psychological and moral weaknesses.  

          Marlowe establishes the moral value of this play by varies means: by the Chorus, by Faustus’s own recognition by the GOOD Angle, by the OLD Man, by the action itself and even by Mephistophilis. As an example of the pervasive Christian view point, we also witness the deterioration and the coarsening of Faustus’s character and his indulgence in cheap, sadistic fun.
          At the very beginning of Faustus‘s temptation, the good angle argues Faustus to lay aside the damned book of the magic and to read the scriptures. The good angle is the voice of the God and the voice of Faustus’s conscience. But Faustus listens to the Evil Angle, who is the emissary of Lucifer and who encourages Faustus to continue his study of magic.

          The spirits will bring him “gold”, “orient pearl”, “pleasant fruits”, “princely delicates”, and “silk”. Faustus has intellectual pride to an odious degree, but he is also desirous of moor vainglory. He recalls how he puzzled German priests by his clever expositions, and he hopes to acquire the magic skill of Agrippa. Faustus is wholly egocentric. He speaks disparagingly of his opponents, and relishes the inflates sense of his own abilities. Thus, after Mephistophilis has left the stage in order to re-appear in the shape of a friar, Faustus indulges in a delusion of self importance and says,

                                  “How pliant is this Mephistophilis,
                               Full of obedience and humility!
                               Such of the force of magic and my spells.”
                                                                                         (Act I, Scene III, Line 29-31)

                                    “What is a grate Mephistophilis so passionate?
                               For being deprives of the joys of heaven?
                               Learn thou of Faustus’s manly fortitude
                               And scorn those joys thou never shalt possess.
                                                                                         (Act I, Scene III, Line 83-86)

                                    “Had I as many souls as there be stars,
                               I’d give them all for Mephistophilis.
                                                                             (Act I, Scene III, Line 102-103)

            The next time we see Faustus, his emotional and intellectual instability is fully revealed.
He wavers between God and the devil. At first he is conscience-stricken: “Now Faustus, must thou needs be damned, and canst thou not is saved.” But in a moment he is ones more the user of egocentric hyperbole.
                                  The god thou servest is thine own appetite,
                             Wherein is fixed the love of Beelzebub
                             To him I will build an altar and a church
                             And offer lukewarm blood of new-born babes.
                                                                                         (Act II, Scene I, Line 11-14)

                                    Homo, fuge: whither should fly?
                             If unto God, he’ll throw me down to hall.
                             My senses are deceived; here’s nothing writ:-
                             I see it plain; hear in this place is write
                             Homo, fuge: yet shall not Faustus fly,
                                                                                         (Act II, Scene I, Line 77-80)
                        We can look upon the Good Angle, the Evil Angle, the Old man, and even Helen, Mephistophilis, and Lucifer as part of Faustus. This allegory employs realism as an instrument. Marlowe chooses certain characters that are capable of serving a double purpose: these characters are significant as symbols, by virtue of what they symbolize; but they are significant also as themselves, by virtue of what they are.

                   The Good Angle, for example, represents the principle of goodness, independent of Faustus in that this principle is not affected by whether is loyal to it or not. Faustus can neither increases nor diminish its perfections; nor can he create or destroy it. At the same time Good Angle is symbolizes a part of Faustus’s   nature.
                   Faustus’s life, though single and indivisible, is both in his own and not his own. In much the way same way, Helen is the lust of the eyes and of the flesh, both as these are objects in an external world, other than Faustus, and as they are his own passions, leading him to seek happiness within those objects; inevitably they are part of his living.
                   The sole problem, given the Angles are an objected evil and an objective good, is not which of them ought to be followed, but which of them will be followed in fact and what the consequences will be.
                   The consequences are for their fuller comprehension, spread over twenty-four years. Faustus is allowed to explore evil with all patience and all diligence. Evil is a new toy, and Faustus cannot resist any invitations to evil that he may receive. Ones Faustus has chosen evil; he has neither eyes nor ears except for the immediate advantage of having done so.

                   When he asked: “Tell me who made the world” Mephistophilis refuses to answer the whole economy of hell is disturb; Lucifer appears with his companion-prince, Belzebub, and demands obedience. As a substitute for the vision of the God, Lucifer shows him the seven Deadly Sins, and at the end of the parade Faustus says:” O, this feeds my soul”. Then he goes on to express a desire to see hell and return.

                   The old Man reminds him of this. He is seized with fury against an agent of good, and asks for him to be tormented. He begs Helen to make him immortal with a kiss, meaning thereby not that he himself (for to his misfortune, he is immortal already), but hat what remains of youth, the present moment, shall not pass away By the nature of things, this is impossible. The twenty-four years draw to a close and before the allegory ends the last gift of the Evil Angel (namely, Helen) has already crumbled in his hands.

As the attractiveness of evil gradually declines, that of goodness grows. Accordingly the more prominent role which in the earlier scenes fell to the Evil Angel is in the later assumed by the Good Angel and his associates: the Old Man and Faustus’s own conscience.                            
It is only Lucifer who drags a reluctant Faustus from thoughts of heaven. Faustus also drags himself. For Lucifer, like the Good Angle, is hear playing a double role: he is devil, but also he is part of Faustus’s nature. Faustus is thus agent as well as victim in his own torment. We should not therefore question Faustus’s moral freedom.

The allegory in this play is, because of its complications, more than an allegory. The temporal allegory is effective in similar way.  As he is alive, Faustus has hope and therefore pain of this intensity. But at the same time, he has no hope, for he is already dead.

It should be further noted that the allegories not only provide material and machinery for the body of the play, but shape it. The play begins with a monologue, for example and ends with one. He alone can endure the punishment, and is therefore left alone to meet it. But between these toes point’s stage is crowded with figures that, if they cannot commit an act, may influence the act or if not influence, may be influenced by it. In order more fully to exhibit its nature and its workings. 


  1. Hello Toral, It is very good that you first defined the morality and then tried to prove the tragedy as a morality play. You wrote the quotations from the tragedy which made your blog very understandable.

    Thank you........

  2. Hello Toral, your arguments are supported by the quotes from the texts. You've provided in-text citation which is a good virtue for every blogger to apply. Could you please share your views on the role of 'the good angel' and 'the bad angel' in Doctor Faustus's life?

  3. Replies
    1. yo !! and it is NOT what it shud be.. it is jus beatng around the bush !