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The Irony of Dr. Faustus Essay

Dr. Faustus undoubtedly a great tragedy that still holds an unrivalled position in the history of English drama if Shakespear’s great tragedies are excepted. True it is that as a drama, Dr. Faustus has some defects but the qualities of this tragedy are still regarded to be superior to those of other dramatists excepts Shakespear. Marlowe’s conception of tragedy bears marks of his dramatic genius. He sketches the hero in a different way. His heroes to the common stock of mankind but in action.

They are extra-ordinary. Dr. Faustus is based on a legend but the Faustus of the legend was turned into a tragic hero at the hand of Marloe. He is a versatile genius and is not content to carry on a common pursuit like other scholars. Let by an inordinate desire to gain power and control over the earth and heaven he adopt necromancy. His sky scraping desirre was the result of the influence of the Renaissance that created an impulse in the mind of Dr. Faustus acquires unlimited, even unethical knowledge.

Thus Marlowe introduced new types of tragic heroes in the tragedy and it was unthought of in the tragedies writer before him so, he is a pioneer in the art of characterization and it was carried on by Shakespear in his dramas. Marlowe was the first English platwright to perceive that tragic action must issue from and reflected in character. For the first time in English drama, Marlowe introduced the elements of straggle or conflict. He has a power to penetrate into human emotions and experience. This is revealed in the most acute inner or spiritual conflicts between vice and virtue or God and evil.

The quality that draws our attention is the tragic flaw, in the character of Dr. Faustus. According to Aristotle, the fall of the tragic hero is not due to fate but some inherent weakness, some tragic flaw in his character. The hero is neither virtuous nor vicious. Dr. Faustus puffed up with pride in his great learning; he abjures divinity and adopts necromancy to gain superhuman power. Readers sadly witness how this flaw or great draw back in his character brings about his ultimate doom and damnation.

There is a deep dramatic irony in the play. The proud Dr. Faustus meets with a gloomy end. His great expectations are believed and he seeks the mercy of God in the end. As Dr. Faustus says “O soul be change’d into little water-drops, / And fall into the ocean, never be found” (Marlowe). He cannot denounce Christianity because he is attached to them emotionally. In the light of above discussion, reader will observe that Marlowe raised the subject matter to a higher level. He provoked heroic subject which appealed to his imagination.

In this person, a subject to notice as a reader, the spirit, of the Renaissance, boundless passion for knowledge, power and beauty incarnated his heroes are Timberline, Dr. Faustus, Barabas, embodying passion for world conquest knowledge and wealth respectively. He gave live and reality to these characters. The seeds of tragedy lie in the character and the hero plucks upon himself the result of his own deeds. He also imbibed the deepest spirit of the Renaissance in his aspirates and audacity of imagination. Works cited Sen, Sankar, Dr. Faustus, London: Vocket Publishers, 1976


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