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CHARACTER OF DOCTOR FAUSTUS Introduction: The Tragic Hero All the tragic heroes of Marlowe are towering figures

of superman size rising head and shoulders above all other minor characters of the plays and completely dominating over them. By the side of these titanic characters the minor ones look like tiny Lilliputians moving around towering Gulliver. Marlowe seems to have conceived his titanic heroes more or less in keeping with Aristotles conception of a tragic hero. The hero should essentially be a superior person and according to Aristotle he must have some tragic flawthat is some great defect-which ultimately brings about his ruin and disaster. His destiny or choice is to go down fighting rather than submit to insurmountable odds and thus to pluck a moral victory from a physical defeat. So in Doctor Faustus also we find Marlowe concentrating all his powers of delineation of character on Faustus. Mephistophilis may get a little bit of care but all other characters pale into insignificance before Faustuss dazzling and dominating personality. Each and all of these subordinate characters are dedicated to the one main purpose of expressing the psychological condition of Faustus from various points of view. Doctor Faustus and His Tragic Flaw Before the drama opens we know from the Chorus that Faustus was born in a town in Germany and his parents were base of stock. We also come to know that he got his higher education at Wittenberg and got his degree of doctor of Divinity from there. He also excelled all those who liked to take part in discussions relating to theology. The Chorus also tells us that he became puffed up with pride for his vast knowledge and scholarship and started indulging in black art of magic to attain super-human powers. As a result he was destined to have a great fall just like Icarus who tried to fly too near the sun with his waxen wings. So in the very first scene of the drama we find that Faustus is disappointed with all branches of knowledge that he has so far mastered. Physic, Philosophy, Law and Divinityall are absolutely inadequate for his purpose. The soul of Faustus is afire with inordinate ambition yearning for limitless knowledge and with a craze for superhuman powers and supreme sensuous pleasures. So herein lies the great tragic flaw in his character: he wants to gain a deity. In spite of all his greatness and other humane qualities we sadly witness how this great flaw or drawback in his character brings about his ultimate doom and destruction. He perfectly knows that to achieve his purpose he will have to abjure God and the Trinity. He was also not void of conscience and that is why we find the Good Angel and the Bad Angel, the symbols of virtue and vice in his soul making their first appearance just after Faustuss final decision in favour of cursed necromancy. In spite of all scepticism and atheistic bias of Faustusand Faustus is decidedly a selfportrait of Marlowe, his emotional attachment to the medieval doctrines of Christianity is too deep to be rooted out. So the Good Angel, his voice of conscience, urges him to shun that damned book and to read the scriptures. But the Evil Angel, the voice of his passion, scores a victory by luring away Faustus with the assurance that by mastering the black art of magic Faustus will be: Lord and commander of the elements. He has firmly made up his mind to sell his soul to the Devil to gain limitless powers with the help of Mephistophilis as his abject slave and to live in all voluptuousness for twenty-four years. Then in the first scene of Act II we find Faustus finally surrendering his soul to the Devil and writing the bond with his own blood. It may be noted that Marlowe was a child of the Renaissance with its dreams and desires and Faustus expresses the ideas and aspirations of his creator quite faithfully. Spiritual or Inner Conflict Before accomplishing the abject act of surrendering his soul to the Devil, Faustus experiences the prick of conscience and the two angels appear again to externalise the spiritual conflict in his soul between vice and virtue, between will and conscience. And henceforth, we find that the entire action of the play is fluctuating between the weak and wavering loyalties of Faustus to these two opposing forces. Generally this inner conflict takes place when a man is faced with two alternatives one of which he must have to choose but finds himself pulled in opposite directions. A. Nicoll has rightly observed: In Doctor Faustus Marlowe attempted something new, the delineation of struggle within the mind of the chief figure. This struggle is certainly somewhat primitive in its expression but it is a foretaste of those inward characteristics towards which drama in its development inevitably tends. Faustus in this respect is unquestionably the greatest tragic figure in sixteenth century literature outside the work of Shakespeare. In fact there is very little external action in this playthe delineation of a psychological or spiritual conflict in the mind of the hero is the chief thing. And with what great dramatic skill Marlowe has depicted this spiritual struggle, these waverings and vacillations in his mind! To gain limitless power and pelf, Faustus may discard godly order, may denounce the doctrines of Christianity and may take to necromancy. Faustus may discard and denounce God and the Trinity, but he is definitely attached to them emotionally. So a guilty conscience dogs him from the beginning to the end. And the heart of Faustus turns out to be the field where the forces of good and evil are trying to overwhelm each other. We can follow this tragic conflict and troubled career of Faustus to its terrible end. Eternal Damnation In the closing scene of the drama the spiritual conflict of a doomed and dejected soul reaches its climax and then culminates in an overwhelming catastrophe. Faustus realises to his utter dismay that he is

doomed to eternal damnation with the least hope for redemption. The poignant soliloquy of Doctor Faustus starting just before an hour of his final doom reveals in a very forceful manner the deep agony of a horror-struck soul facing its impending doom. And when the final hour strikes, there is thunder and lightning and the Devils disciples come and snatch away the trouble torn soul of Faustus to hell to suffer eternal damnation. To conclude we may quote the very relevant remarks of E.A. Baker regarding this great tragedy: This great symbolic tragedy deals with a theme which was part, not only of the authors inner experience but of the very stuff which nourished the Renaissance spirit. The pride of intellect by which both the Faustus of Marlowe and the Lucifer of Milton fell, was the most subtlest and dangerous temptation of the age. After wandering for centuries through the mists of ignorance, man found himself once more before the tree of knowledge. Role and Significance of Dr. Faustus in the Play Marlowe concentrates all his attention and all his powers of subtle character-portrayal on Faustus. He has achieved the very difficult task of laying bare Faustuss mind at some extraordinary and critical moments. The play opens with Faustus in his study, taking stock of his accomplishments and considering the plans he should pursue in the future. Faustus realises how logic, law, physics and divinity which have yielded up their treasures to him, have not been able to quench his intellectual thirst. Dissatisfied with mere knowledge and philosophy, Faustus recognises the power of magica sound magician is a mighty God. Valdes and Cornelius, professed magicians, are sent for by Faustus to help him in his efforts at mastery of magic. Meanwhile the Good Angel and the Bad Angelwho dramatically objectify the double impulses of appetite and conscienceappear on the scene, the one discouraging and the other encouraging his resolve. Valdes and Cornelius serve the purpose of inflaming Faustus further, with the splendid pictures of material pomp and sensual delights they present. They lend him books and instruments of magic with instructions for their proper use at the proper time. At night, in a solitary grove, Faustus begins his incantations to conjure forth Mephistophilis. As the spirit appears, Faustus realises the virtue in his heavenly words, the efficacy of his spells and the force of magic. His vanity is inflated, and he hails himself as a conjurer-laureate who can command great Mephistophilis. Faustus brushes aside the timely warnings of conscience and enters into a compact with the Devil, signing the bond with his own blood. Faustus takes the utmost possible advantage of the service of Mephistophilis. It is this fallen angel with his sinister sincerity and unaffected frankness that resolves for Faustus the doleful problems of damnation, and indirectly helps to heighten the intrepidity of the sin-steeped scholar and his spiritual arrogance. It is Mephistophilis that clears Faustuss doubts in astronomy and cosmography, helps him to ride triumphantly in a chariot round the world, scanning the planets in the firmament and the Kingdoms of the earth. It is with the help of Mephistophilis, the embodiment of his dearly purchased power, that Faustus surfeits his sense with carnal pleasures, not coarse delights, however, but highest and deepest enjoyments. His longing is for the fairest maid of Germany, for the beauty of Helen that makes man immortal with a kiss. Faustuss mind is delighted with the dumb-show of Devils that Mephistophilis presents before him. Even the repulsive masque of the Seven Deadly Sins attracts and soothes him for the time being. Travelling far and wide, Faustus displays his new-won power. The horror of damnation seizes him every now and then. It increases with the passing of years and the drawing near of the end. He is unable to take advantage even of the last chance that is given to him by the Old Man. Faustuss own pleasant vices turn into instruments to plague him. The last scene in which Faustus is torn between conflicting feelings, is the best of its kind, the most memorable in Marlowes plays, the most poignant in English tragedy. The Good Angel and the Bad Angel Faustuss own thoughts objectifieddo their duty for the last time. Faustus spends the last hour in bursting out in a powerful soliloquycounting the minutes by the sand-grains of his agony. One is always alone in suffering. Faustuss fate is not different. No response is there to his cries of anguish and his appeals for mercy. He longs to leap up to Heaven. In the heat of his anguish, he beholds Christs blood streaming in the firmament. One drop of that blood, he realises, will save him. He curses himself, his birth, his parents, and Lucifer. There is no more salvation for him, only damnation. As the clock strikes twelve, Faustus is borne away to hell by the devils and we recall his words: The reward of sin is death: thats hard. Faustus is a tremendous figure of terrible tragic stature as delineated by Marlowe. The well-versed Wittenburg scholar rises to be the ally of Lucifer and the enemy of God. Insatiable hunger for knowledge and the power that knowledge gives is the dominant passion of Faustus. And this becomes as fatal a passion as the consuming lust of power is in the case of Tamburlaine. Faustus is the Paracelsus of Marlowe. Over the soul of the Wittenburg doctor the passion for knowledge dominates, and all influences of good and evil, the voices of damned and of blessed angels reach him faint and ineffectual as dreams, or distant music or the suggestions of long forgotten odours, save as they promise something to glut the fierce hunger and thirst of his intellect. It is interesting to note how in Faustus, the scholar never disappears in the magician. He is ever a student and a thinker. He wants all ambiguities to be resolved, and all strange philosophies explained. Even in the last scene, when the two scholars take leave of him, Faustus retains about him an atmosphere of learning, of refinement, of scholarly urbanity. Faustus is made of the stuff of which heroes are made. He has an unbridled passion for knowledge infinite, a limitless desire for the unattainable, a spirit of reckless adventure and a tremendous confidence in his own

will and spirit. He has dignity, tenacity, patience, profundity, and a vein of unsuspected humanity and tenderness. But all these are thrown into the background by the isolation of his position and the horror of the course he pursues. He weaves the threads of his tragedy with his own hands, signs his own death warrant. Himself the battlefield for one of the greatest mental conflicts of man, Faustus creates in us a feeling of loss and a sense of waste. Missing the honour of a master-mind, he has only the recognition of a magician. He would have been a scholar-prince, but he chose to be a conjuror-laureate.

The over-reacheris that an apt description of Marlowes heroes? Discuss with reference to Doctor Faustus. Faustus the protagonist who falls through his own will Faustus is the central figure of Marlowes Doctor Faustus. Faustus is a character ideal to be the hero of a tragedy where man alone is the maker of his fate, good or bad. He falls, not by the fickleness of fortune or the decree of fate, or because he has been corrupted by Mephistophilis, the agent of Lucifer, the Devil, but because of his own will. Faustus: no king or prince, but a great scholar Faustus is an ordinary German of parents base of stock who goes to Wittenberg for higher studies, mainly supported by his kinsmen. But in course of time, he graces the golden field of learning and before long obtains a Doctors in Divinity for his unsurpassed skill in dispute on heavenly problems. He has attained mastery over various branches of study. Thus Faustus is a break from the traditional concept of the tragic hero to the extent that he is not of royalty or any noble parentage. But he is great all the same, because of his scholarship. Faustus is a man of extraordinary calibre He possesses rich imaginative faculty. He cherishes the idea that as a magician he will be greater than emperors and kings, and his dominion will stretch as far as doth the mind of man. He will become a mighty God. Endowed with exceptional imaginative power, he visualizes as a magician the bright dreams of his future. Faustus is a born poet Poetry is an innate gift with him. He makes blind Homer sing to him of the love of Paris and Oenone, and he makes Amphion produce ravishing music from his melodious harp. In the final soliloquy, Faustus calls upon the heavenly spheres to stop moving so that time ceases and midnight never comes. But the most wonderful among his passages is his apostrophe to Helen. His speech to Helen bespeaks of his high imaginative faculty and is pregnant with mythological allusions. Faustus like Icarus running too high: Presumption the cause of his tragedy Faustus is not satisfied with his vast knowledge in various subjects of the university, for still he is an ordinary man. Faustus wants to be a superman; he wants to be a mighty God. He is swollen with cunning and of a self-conceitto such an extent that he becomes the Icarus of classical mythology. And he aspires on the artificial wings of his knowledge to soar above human limits, to reach the status of a Jove in the sky. Pride is the sin for which the angels fell, and in consequence of it, heaven conspires the overthrow of Faustus. Faustus: the child of Renaissance Faustus, with his yearning for knowledge, proceeds to study necromancy. He responds to the suggestions of the Evil Angel, to attain the position of a Lord and Commander of the world. He tries his brain to gain a deity and he commits a sinful act. But he is not at all terrified of damnation. He does not believe in pains after death. He sells his soul to Mephistophilis to acquire unlimited power to probe the secrets of the universe. Faustuss mental conflict: a study of his mind Faustuss choice of necromancy is made after inner conflict. The appearance of the Good Angel and the Bad Angel side by side are the personifications of his good and evil impulses. His conventional heart is opposed to his self-damnation and this is clearly hinted when his blood congeals as he proceeds to write: Faustus delivers his soul to the Devil. But he ignores these warnings and completes the scroll. But the conflict arises again in his mindthe conflict between his impulse to fly to God and his resolution to stick to the pledge made to the Devil. As the time rolls on, he becomes more and more disillusioned about the profits he expected from Magic, and the growing sense of loss and of the wages of damnation begins to sting him like a scorpion: When I behold the heaven, then I repent, And curse thee, wicked Mephistophilis, Because thou hast deprived me of those joys. But it is he himself, and not Mephistophilis who is to blame. Faustus the complex character dominated by ambition

The more Faustus turns towards God, the greater becomes the force of the Devil to drag him back into his trap. Faustus is an inordinately ambitious hero. He denounces God, blasphemes the Trinity and Christian doctrines, and sells his soul to the Devil to gain superhuman power and to live a life of voluptuousness for twenty-four years. The death is cast in his very first monologue Faustus bids Divinity adieu. He turns a deaf ear to the earnest appeal of the Good Angel to lay that damned book aside, and is carried away by the allurements of the Evil Angel. Faustus: moment of crisis and self-realization comes late as to all tragic heroes Faustus is isolated from his surroundings. He does not die suddenly. And before dying, Faustus reaches that point of horror, when even pride is abandoned. Faustus would like to retrace his steps and repent of his surrender to the Devil. But Lucifer, Belzebub and Mephistophilis appear and demand the fulfilment of the conditions to which Faustus had agreed by signing a bond with his blood. Finding no other way, Faustus begs the forgiveness of the devils and vows never to mention God or pray to Him or to look to Heaven. But Faustuss conscience is not absolutely dead. On hearing the Old Mans exhortation, Faustus immediately becomes aware of his predicament and says to himself: Where art thou, Faustus? Wretch, What hast thou done? Damned art thou, Faustus, damned; despair and die. Faustuss inner conflict reappears in a more acute and agonising form. Sensual-gratification Faustus is unsurpassed in his magic idealisation of that which is essentially base and carnal. He seeks immortality in the kiss of Helena spirit. Faustus is not one consumed with a thirst of knowledge, says Arnold Wynne, for we see him exercising his supernatural gifts in the most puerile and useless fashion. It is impossible, therefore, to regard his ambition as a lust for knowledge in the usual meaning of that term, differentiating it from sensual experience. If Faustus is to be liable according to his dominant trait, then let us describe him as embodiment of sensual-gratification. Marlowes Faustus, the legendary German scholar, is an insatiable speculator. Faustus aspires to unlawful knowledge because it is an instrument of power. It is the passion for omnipotence rather than omniscience that urges Faustus to summon Mephistophilis by incantation to his side. Wagners narration of his aerial voyages for cosmography and Faustuss discussion on geography with his attendant spiritall this exemplifies the insatiable passion of Faustus for knowledge, but he seeks knowledge because knowledge is power. Faustus employs his magical power not only to acquire knowledge but also for his sensualgratification. He is a sensualist from the moment he takes up the book of magic to ponder over what it may bring him. Faustus not fit to be a tragic hero according to some critics The element of sensuality is so much emphasised in the character of Faustus that some critics have gone to the extent of regarding him as an incarnation of lust and as such, unfitted to support tragedy. His creator inspires him with his own Bohemian joy in mere pleasure, his own thirst for fresh sensations, his own vehement disregard of restrainta disregard which brought Marlowe to a tragic and unworthy end. But, as if in mockery, he degrades him with unmanly, ignoble qualities that excite our derision. His mind is pleased with toys that would amuse a child; at the conclusion of an almost incredibly trivial show of the Seven Deadly Sins, he exclaims O, how this sight doth delight my soul! His practical jokes are unworthy of a court jester. The congealing of his blood agitates his superstitious mind far more than the terrible frankness of Mephistophilis. Miserably mean-spirited, he seeks to propitiate the wrath of the fiend by invoking his torments upon an old man whose disinterested appeal momentarily quickened his conscience into revolt. In his vacillations we see, not the noble conflict of good and evil impulses but an ignoble tug-of-war between timidity and appetite as Wynne observes. Faustus, though proud as he is, lacks firm determination; he wavers and vacillates; his character is in fact not one of fixed determination, as it is so often asserted; he constantly wavers, and his purposes change. Sometimes he sounds immovable, but at other moments he is furiously torn by conflict. Tragedy of Faustus is symbolic Faustus stands not for a character, not for a man, but for Man, for Everyman. The grim tragedy that befalls him is not a personal tragedy, but a tragedy that overtakes all those who dare practice more than heavenly power permits. The terrible conflict that goes on in his mind is not particular to him alone, but common to all who waver between opposites. In the character of Faustus there are no details, no personal traits, no eccentricities or habits, nothing that is intimate or individual. Marlowe was concerned only with the part of him which was common to all men, yet in virtue of which he exceeded all men, his mind. And that mind is Marlowesthe limitless desire, the unbridled passion for the infinite, a certain reckless, high confidence in the will and spirit of man. The doubts and fears which rock the mind of Faustus are not of one character alone: these doubts and fears about hell, heaven, God, salvation and damnation have been experienced by all inquisitive men in all ages. Faustus wavers between his Good and Evil angels, between God and Devil, so we may see Marlowe hesitating between the submissive acceptance of a dogmatic system and a pagan simplicity of outlook to which instinct and temperament prompted him. It will be hard to condemn Marlowe as an atheist. His sceptical and rebellious temperament was not simply his personal tendency; rather he was impressed by the prevailing tendency for free thinking on religious matters. In the same sense, Faustus, with all doubts and fears about hell and damnation, believes in Christ and God. Faustus in the beginning is a bold, defiant and adventurous spirit of the Renaissance but at the approach of his doom he reaffirms his faith in Christ

and God. A person who believes in the blood of Christ as the ransom for all the sins of the human, or that turns to God after having once abjured him, cannot be regarded as an atheist. Faustus discovers that intellectual pride and insolence of man are responsible for dragging him away from God and true religion. Faustuss passion for knowledge and power is in itself a virtue, but diverted from the service of God it threatens to become totally negative and self-destroying. as O.P. Brockbent says.