Performances and Metatheatre in Marlowe’s Faustus College
The theatrical device of performing a play within another play has been employed for centuries, most notably in European theatre and literature (Fisher and Greiden xi). The play within a play “describes a strategy for constructing play texts that contain, within the perimeter of their own fictional reality, a second or internal theatrical performance” (Fisher and Greiden xii). Such a play within a play also has a multitude of functions and tasks, which, according to Fisher, can be grouped into four distinct varieties: metatheatrical (self-)reflection, introduction of different perspectives, interaction or exchange in the social and historical fields, and permitting a play to shift from one genre to another (Fisher and Greiden xii), Christopher Marlowe’s The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus, a retelling of the classic German legend Faust, is a fifteenth-century play which employs this technique on several occasions, providing the audience with an extra layer of entertainment, a deeper understanding of the flawed character of Faustus, and a metatheatrical reflection on the play itself.
The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus was written during the reign of queen Elizabeth. According to Ornstein, a theatre audience during this...
Join Now to View Premium Content
GradeSaver provides access to 835 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 6243 literature essays, 1739 sample college application essays, 250 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.
Already a member? Log in