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Renaissance elements in Dr.

Faustus
Or
Dr. Faustus as a Renaissance man

The word Renaissance itself means rebirth. The idea of rebirth
originated in the belief that Europeans had discovered the superiority of
Greek and Roman culture after many centuries of what they considered
intellectual and culture decline. Thus the question what was the
renaissance about is answered as the widespread cultural revival marking
the division between the so called dark ages and the modern world. The
Renaissance was a period of fundamental change in human outlook once
dominated by religious dogma and Christian theology. The age was marked
by a great yearning for unlimited knowledge; by love for worldliness
supreme power, sensual pleasures of life; by love for beauty; respect for
classicism; by skepticism, individualism and Machiavellian influence.

Christopher Marlowe was a product of the Renaissance. Therefore it
was usual for him that his play Doctor Faustus would contain Renaissance
spirit. We see in Dr. Faustus a wonderful expression of renaissance
elements and the character Dr. Faustus as a renaissance man.

The most important thing in the Renaissance is craving for
knowledge infinite. This characteristic has been injected in Faustus
properly. He has achieved knowledge of all branches. Yet he feels
unfulfilled. So he wants to practice black art and with this he would be able
to know all things
I will have them read me strange philosophy.
After selling his soul, he, at the very first, questions Mephistopheles to
know the mystery of the universe, about the position of hell.
First, will I question with thee about hell,
Tell me where is the place that men call hell?

Faustuss longing for material prosperity, for money and wealth,
which is also a Renaissance element, has been expressed in the following
lines where he desires to gain the lordship of Embden a great commercial
city-
Of wealth!
Why, the signiority of Embden shall be mine.
He further wants to enjoy a splendid life full of worldly pleasures. He says,
I will have them fly to India for gold,
Ransack the ocean for orient pearl,
.
And search all the corners of the new found world.
For pleasant fruits and princely delicates.
Here we see another inherent thing characterized by Renaissance in
Faustus i.e. love for adventure.

Faustuss eagerness to get the most beautiful German maid to be his
wife and Helen to be his paramour and to find heaven in her lips proves
his love of beautyalong with love for sensual pleasure which is also a
Renaissance element. He says to Mephistophilis,
For I am wanton and lascivious
And cannot live without a wife.

Dominance of classical literature, art and culture is a
prominent feature of the Renaissance. And it is frequently expressed by
Faustus in his allusions, examples, references. One of such examples can be
noticed in the following couple of lines where Faustus says,
Have I not made blind Homer sing to me
Of Alexanders love and Oenons death?

The Renaissance was marked by an intense interest in the
visible worldand in the knowledge derived from concrete sensory
experience. It turned away from the abstract speculations and interest in
life after death that characterized the middle Ages. Faustus raises question
and gives answer to that question in the following lines-
That, after this life, there is any pain?
Thus, these are trifles and mere old wives tales.
Thus Renaissance allows Scepticism and secularism.

In the Renaissance, the unique talents and potential of the
individualbecame significant. The concept of personal fame was much
more highly developed than during Middle Ages. Actually Faustus is
an individualistic tragic hero. His tragedy is his own creation. He does
not think like traditional heroes or men. He crosses his limit while common
people do not generally cross that.

Renaissance movement is greatly influenced by Niccolo Machiavelli,
his The Prince and his ideal ends justify the means. Similarly Faustus
also wants to reach his goal by any means, even by selling his soul to Devil
Faustus gives to thee his soul. Furthermore, Faustus earns money by
selling a false horse to a Horse-course deceitfully.

The Renaissance has made Faustus fascinated by supreme power. Faustus
says-
A sound magician is a mighty God
Here, Faustus, tire thy brains to gain a deity.

Finally we must say that Faustus is a faithful embodiment of the
Renaissance. He bears all the characteristics of the age. Actually Marlowe
has pictured Faustus with great care and interest of the age. George
Satayana justly says in this regard
Marlowe is a martyr to everything, power, curious knowledge,
enterprise, wealth and beauty.