Doctor Faustus (Marlowe)

The Tragic Fate of Marlowe's Tragic Hero

In the world of theatre, there are many plays in which the central figure is one who harnesses extreme personality traits above all others. For example, Sophocles' Oedipus is a fatherly king with great ambition and strength; and Shakespeare's Macbeth is evilly ambitious, while Romeo and Juliet are driven solely by their love for one another. These traits give these characters unbelievable success ... for a time. In these stories, these attributes bring about each character's downfall and death, qualifying each as a tragic hero, one whose strength leads to weakness. Christopher Marlowe's Dr. Faustus is a definite member of this class of characters, an arrogant yet impressively ambitious scholar who desires grandiose knowledge without the help and guidance from the world's major religion, Christianity. In Dr. Faustus, Marlowe uses tragic irony concerning Faustus' misunderstanding and rejection of God to illustrate the downfall of this tragic hero.

Faustus' character is established with his first soliloquy in the very first scene. Desiring to acquire knowledge, he distrusts logic, medicine, and law, claiming that he "hast attained [the] end[s]" and mastered these areas (253, lines 1-36). When...

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