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DR FAUSTUS AS A MORALITY PLAY

English Drama in the beginning had three forms: Mystery, Miracle and Morality. The morality play is really a fusion of allegory and the religious drama of the miracle plays which presents the miracles of saints and the subjects taken from the Bible. It flourished in the middle ages and reappeared in Elizabethan drama. In this play the characters were personified abstractions of vice or virtues such as Good deeds, Faith, Mercy, Anger, Truth, Pride etc. The general theme of the moralities was theological and the main one was the struggle between the good and evil powers. The tried to capture mans soul and good always won. The story of whole morality play centred round the single towering figure. The seven deadly sins were found engaged in physical and verbal battle with cardinal virtues. The antics of vices and devils etc offered a considerable opportunity for low comedy or buffoonery. The morality play often ended with a solemn moral. In the light of these points we may call Marlowes Dr. Faustus a belated morality play in spite of its tragic ending. It has been mentioned that in morality plays the characters were personified abstractions of vice or virtues. In Dr.Faustus also we find the Good and Evil angels, the former stand for the path of virtue and the latter for sin and damnation, one for conscience and the other for desires. Then we have the old man appearing, telling Faustus that he is there To guide thy steps unto the way of life. He symbolizes the forces of righteousness and morality. The

seven deadly sins are also there in a grand spectacle to cheer up the despairing soul of Faustus. If the, general theme of morality plays was theological dealing with the struggle of forces of good and evil for mans soul, then Dr. Faustus may be called a religious or morality play to a very great extent. We find Marlowes hero, Faustus, abjuring the scriptures, the Trinity and Christ. He surrenders his soul to the Devil out of his inordinate ambition to gain: Dr. Faustus is a first successful Romantic tragedy. It is, in fact, a bridge between the Morality play and Romantic tragedy. Before Marlowe, the Morality drama was in vogue. It had personifications of abstract ideas like the Knowledge, the Ignorance, the Love, the Hatred, the Good, the Evil, the Cruelty, the Kindness, etc. These abstractions were seen in conflict with each other. The Morality drama also involved angels, demons and devils. Since it instilled some moral lesson, it had also comic scenes to save the spectators from boredom. The induction of comic scenes made its plot loose. In the end, the Evil was defeated and the Good was exalted. Dr. Faustus is the first successful Romantic tragedy but it has many elements of the Morality drama. First of all, the theme of the play is built around a moral idea that pride has a fall. It presents the doom of a great scholar, Dr. Faustus, who is puffed up with his pride and tries to soar higher with his waxen wings. His inordinate ambitions, immoderate desires and unabated lust for more and more power and pelf fell him into the pit of devilish exercise. He rejects all the conventional branches of knowledge because he is not satisfied being a man. He wants to become as powerful as,

Jove is in the sky Lord and commander of these elements. He learns necromancy and is doomed. His damnation asserts the Christian belief, Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. Faustus, being a witch, is excluded from the Seat of God. His fall extorts the wise that they should not practice forbidden arts. They should not transgress the law of God and sell their soul to devil. Besides the theme, Dr. Faustus has also technical aspects of the Morality play. It has devils. Dr. Faustus conjures up Mephistophilis. He makes an agreement with the Devil and sells his soul for the pleasure and profit of 24 years. Lucifer and Beelzebub also make their presence in the play. Dr. Faustus performs wonderful feats with the help of Mephistophilis. The play has also the Good Angel and the Evil Angel who keep on coming at times for their respective purposes. The Good Angel advises Faustus to lay aside that damn book otherwise he will be punished by God. He should study the Bible and follow divinity. The Evil Angel tempts him to learn magic because it contains all treasures of nature. He can get power and pelf which he longs for. When Faustus asks Mephistophilis who made the universe, the devil does not answer him. Then the Good Angel appears and tells him that God has made the universe. The Angel encourages him to utter the name of God and seek His forgiveness. The Evil Angel threatens him of dire consequences if he names God. But the Good Angel assures him that the devil cant touch

him. In the end the episode of the old man bears out Morality elements. The old man tells Faustus that still he has time to repent and save his soul. He tells him about an angel who is hovering on his head, ready to pour the blessing of God on his head. It means he still has a chance to avoid the clutches of the Devil. However, Faustus wastes the opportunity and tries to seek refuge in the embracing of Helen and says, Come Helen; make me immortal with a kiss. The appearance of Helen of Troy, Alexander and other ancient persons is also a Morality touch. Dr. Faustus has also personifications. Dr. Faustus is the personification of pride and arrogance. He is vain of his intellect and wit. He thinks that he is made for something special. He does not want to learn common disciplines because, Both law and physic are for petty wits. He is a divine scholar but he thinks that it is only a superficial knowledge. It cant win him wealth, power and status. He believes. A sound magician is a mighty god. He wants to enjoy the world of power, pleasure and delight which is promised to a studious artisan. He wants to have command over all the things which move between poles. For this purpose, he in ready to incur Gods wrath because he thinks that the hell is a fable and mere old wives tale. He abjures Christianity bidding it adieu. In the play, seven deadly sins are also personified in their proper shapes.

Lucifer makes Faustus see Pride, Wrath, Covetousness, Envy, Gluttony, Sloth and Lechery. These sins appear in human form and dialogue with Dr. Faustus. The play has also comic scenes. It is also a legacy of Morality play. These scenes seem to be crude but they pave the way for mighty Shakespeare to employ them in better form. In this way, Dr. Faustus is a landmark in English dramatic history. To sum up, Dr Faustus is not a altogether a morality drama, it is a Romantic tragedy. Its hero is a man of flesh and blood. He wants to enjoy a rich life and power and pelf, adventure and beauty. He wants to have the fairest maid of Germany as his wife; he craves for more and more knowledge. In fact, he is more than a mere personification. He seems to be a Renaissance man with all zeal and zest of the age.

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