The character selected for analysis is one of the most popular one in literature and arts. This character reflects a universal problem of evil and its struggle with goodness and morality. Doctor Faustus is one of the most interesting and compacted characters in literature based on moral, personal and religious contrasts. The three works selected fro analysis are the play .the Tragic History of Doctor Faustus by Marlowe, and two poem. “The Progress of Faust” by Karl Shapiro and “The Punishment of Pride” by Charles Baudelaire . The Tragic History of Doctor Faustus is a play by Ch. Marlowe written in 1604. In this play, Marlowe portrays Doctor Faustus as a man who of his own conscious willfulness brings tragedy and torment crashing down upon his head, the pitiful and fearful victim of his own ambitions and desires. Marlowe uses irony to portray the downfalls of his protagonist at the finest and sharpest point. His irony is based on theological concepts of sin and damnation, and dramatically expressed in two major patterns of action. Thesis The maim similarity between three works of literature are that they portrayhuman weaknesses, like a desire to master sacred knowledge and magic, which make Faustus a tragic hero who has to fight with death; still the works differ in stylistic devices and historical background.
The three works speak about the evil nature of the main characters and low morals. A desire to master the sacred knowledge is one of the main features of Faustus personality. Marlowe depicts that Faustus is dabbled in magic even before becoming a Doctor of Divinity, "being of a naughty minde & otherwise addicted." Though "excellent perfect in the holy scriptures," he "waxed a worldly man," devoting himself to magic, astrology, mathematics and medicine (Marlowe 1997). In the play, Faustus is still a man and no demon. Thus, his choice, no matter how often repeated, does not become irrevocable until his death. Following Rosner: Marlowe's Faustus is "not satisfied" with the achievements of his education” (54). It is possible to say that his own curiosity and inquisitive mind lead him to tragic outcomes.
In the play, the dramatic situations are heated by moral choice and spiritual trials faced by Faustus. The pattern of moral choice leads him to the alternative of spiritual destruction. Critics (Rosner 54) underline that Doctor Faustus does not rely on the representation of physical pain and destruction for its tragic effects. It is primarily and fundamentally a tragedy of the spirit. The representation of suffering is not intense in Doctor Faustus; in addition to the agonies of Faustus’ last hour, there are recurrent indications of his pangs of conscience; but that is the extent of human suffering involved. For instance, Mephostophilis talks of suffering and of the pains of hell, but with the exception of one spontaneous outburst, he is not shown as a suffering creature.
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FAUSTUS. Why, have you any pain that torture others!
MEPHIST. As great as have the human souls of men. But, tell me, Faustus, shall I have thy soul? And I will be thy slave, and wait on thee (Marpowe 1997)
In the poem, The Progress of Faust” The character of Faustus is a tragic one faced with sufferings and despair used as central themes in the play structure and meaning. Critics admit that there is a definite and integral relationship between the torments of Faustus’ death and the course of his career, just as there is between the nature of his suffering, as he comes to realize it, and the nature of the devil's suffering as Mephostophilis explains it to him. It is the suffering of the damned that links the human and the diabolic in Doctor Faustus, not the pain of hell-fire but spiritual pain (Rosner 56;).
The uniqueness of “The progress of Faust” is that the author speaks about Faust allegorically comparing him with the Third Reich and Nazism. The character of Faust reflects human sufferings and violence. There is an irony implicit in the nature of the suffering of the damned, an irony which Marlowe has exploited in dramatic terms: the inescapably logical process which brings about such punishment. The sinner, confronted with the moral choice between God's will and what is not God's will, chooses to cut himself off from God in reaching for the not-God; in doing so he brings about by his own act the condition of separation from God which, if not altered by the time of death, becomes the basis of damnation and the cause of eternal agony.
“When for a secret formula he paid
The Devil another fragment of his soul
His scholars swept, and several even played
That Satan would restore his to them whole” (Shapiro 85).
The sermon goes on to exhort that the state of mortal imperfection be acknowledged, but also that the mercy of God and Christ's saving merits be relied upon to raise man from his misery. Faustus, at this point in his career, sees only the imperfection, not the opportunity of redemption--he scornfully casts away the whole doctrine; at a later point, consciousness of his sinfulness will be painfully present, but his self-imposed blindness will continue to shut out the light of proffered salvation. Faustus has made his original choice by himself: the Scriptures are thrown over for the books of magic. The dreams of power and wealth which infatuate Faustus, exalt his language, and lead him to conjuring are not in themselves heinous things; his desires bear little or no resemblance to the destructive malice of Barabas or Ithamore, or even to the usurping and ruthless political ambitions of Guise or Mortimer. One sees no victims in the wake of his imagined triumphs to bloody the image of his yearnings. And this is because Marlowe is here dealing with only one victim--Faustus himself. Faustus' desires represent, in the context of Marlowe's presentation, not a usurpation of legitimate political powers nor of the dignity and life of other human beings, but a usurpation upon God. His sin is the sin of angels.
Similar to the play, in The Punishment of Pride” Faustus becomes a tragic hero unable to resist his desperation and anxiety. At the end of the play, Faustus desperation becomes a torment to him. Faustus’ career is characterized by the pattern of pleasure and fear: he who once set himself up as an example of manly fortitude to the spiritually tortured devil now lives in servile fear of the devil's threats of physical pain; such threats, together with the lure of new pleasures, stifle the spiritual doubts and pains that periodically afflict him (Rosner 54). “Faustus’ mistaken admiration for the carnal husk of words themselves rather than their spirit does lead him into damnation, and subjects him to the Law established by his pact with Lucifer” (Rosner 56). Baudelaire uses irony to establish the tragic element of the play: the ironies cloak the repeated exercise of Faustus’ moral choice and his relationships with the devil. The poem states;
“In those old times wherin Theology
Flourished with greater sap and energy,
A celebrated doctor -- so they say --
Having stirred many careless hearts one day” (Baudelaire 23)
There remains the irony of the contrast between the actual accomplishments of his magical career and the original dreams of wealth, honor, and omnipotence which provoked that career. The play is based on
ambiguity on matters of faith. A huge part of his play's attraction lies in what we might call its defacement of religious institutions: the poisoning of a nunnery, the murder of monks, the repeated and gleeful mockery of Christian beliefs” (Boehrer 83).
In choosing the not-God in his desire to be as God, Faustus has provided not only for his own destruction, but also for his own degradation (Rosner 45). Instead of reaching the stature of a demigod or even commander of the world, Faustus becomes an entertainer (Rosner 23). As a scholar, Faustus is limited by mortality, thus it gains his satisfaction by playing practical jokes on the Papal court; the man who looked forward to controlling the lives and power of all earthly rulers now becomes the magician of the Emperor, building castles in the air, and presenting spirits that resemble great men of the past. As Faustus himself declares:
Than have the white breasts of the queen of love:
From Venice shall they drag huge argosies,
And from America the golden fleece
That yearly stuffs old Philip's treasury;
If learned Faustus will be resolute (Marlowe 1997)
Then will I headlong run into the earth:
Earth, gape! O, no, it will not harbour me!
You stars that reign'd at my nativity,
Whose influence hath allotted death and hell,
Now draw up Faustus, like a foggy mist (Marlwe 1997
As an intellectual, he is also aware of the exploit in its philosophical dimensions and scientific knowledge.
Similar to Marlowe, Charles Baudelaire shapes this fundamental pattern of human experience by making it grow out of a freely repeated moral choice, linking Faustus’ sin with the primal or original sin of Christian theology. The tragic and dramatic elements can be explained by the fact that it is this burden and responsibility of moral choice in a Christian context which adds the final degree of universality to his figure and his career (Rosner 89). Using dramatic situations and tragic scenes, the authors emphasize the conflict of good and evil through the two Angels who depict the alternatives Faustus continually faces. Their presence in the play has often been attributed to the influence of the morality tradition, and certainly to the extent that they are concrete embodiments of the conflict in Faustus’ mind they appear to be a characteristic device of the morality play (Rosner 65). In the first place, angels and devils in Marlowe's time were not considered abstractions or even metaphors for the operations of the human mind; they were conceived as real spiritual beings created by God and granted certain powers and functions. The same can be said of the career of Faustus, though here the moral nature of the protagonist is more complex, and the incidents which lead him to his tragic destruction are ranged in order of increasing intensity and deepening ironic significance. Faustus replies to Angels:
Why, the signiory of Embden shall be mine.
When Mephistophilis shall stand by me,
What god can hurt thee, Faustus? thou art safe
Cast no more doubts.--Come, Mephistophilis (Marlowe 1997)
Among these was the power to influence by suggestion, though not constrain, the mind of man.
One of the main dramatic tensions is provided by the possibility of Faustus’ repentance (Rosner 54). If that possibility were not real, neither the admonitions and urgings of the Good Angel nor the manifest concern of the devils to lure and frighten Faustus away from godly thoughts would have any dramatic meaning or validity. “Since Faustus is actually the type of person who is drawn compulsively to what is blasphemous, daring, and imprudent, it is not at all clear that his choice is so free after all” (Rosner 87). All these factors merge into the crisis of the last act, where the Old Man urges Faustus to call for mercy and avoid despair. Marlowe's vision of evil in this play is the vision of Christian theology: Faustus’ tragedy is a spiritual one; the irony which characterizes it is the irony of moral evil, the irony of sin. Doctor Faustus, by abuse of his freedom and revolt against the natural order, willfully chooses his own destruction under the guise of self-glory. Marlowe has introduced a familiar theological concept, a concept which was traditionally treated, together with despair, as one of the most serious obstacles to repentance and salvation (Rosner 54).
In the poem, “the Progress of Faust” the representation of suffering is not very great; in addition to the agonies of Faust' last hour, there are recurrent indications of his pangs of conscience; but that is the extent of human suffering involved. Shapiro’s talks of suffering and of the pains of hell, but with the exception of one spontaneous outburst, he is not shown as a suffering creature. Yet what suffering there is in the play is central to its structure and meaning; there is a definite and integral relationship between the torments of Faustus' death and the course of his career, just as there is between the nature of his suffering, as he comes to realize it, and the nature of the devil's suffering. One by one Faustus examines the branches of higher learning as they were organized in the universities of his day: philosophy, medicine, law, and theology. He does not pursue knowledge for the sake of truth, but for power, superhuman power, and the power over life and death. Christian theology, since the early Fathers of the Church, has designated spiritual pain as the worst punishment of the damned, in that eternal exclusion from God's presence cuts off the spirit from the divine source and end of its being, and from the vision that gives meaning and fulfillment to its existence.
In sum, in the works the character of Faustus himself is unwilling to see and to recognize the nature of his sin, and the penalty it must inevitably bear, is one of the most brilliantly handled ironies of the play. Marlowe has altered not only the nature of these discussions, but their context as well, each time with powerful ironic effect. Shapiro and Baudelaire play the character is a different historical age but speak about his evil nature and an agreement of the Devil. There is no preparation, on the other hand, for the flash of pain which strikes terror to the devil's soul and momentarily forces him out of the role of tempter. The suffering of conscience that soon begins to afflict him marks the start of that experience; his final hour is its culmination: then, hell is seen not as a fable, but as the inevitable reality. Throughout the play there is little stress on the more popular conceptions of hell as a lurid place of grotesque physical tortures, and much stress on the spiritual loss and suffering:. For the first time Faustus attempts to resolve his conflict in the direction of God, but his relationship with the devil has undergone a change to counter the new tendency in his character. Faustus begs their pardon and makes a vow of obedience; he who would force spirits to obey his every behest now makes himself their obedient slave.