Discuss Doctor Faustus by Marlowe as a tragedy in about 550 words.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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It is hard to see any way in which this excellent play could not be regarded as anything other than a tragedy. Faustus, and the way that he willingly makes a decision to trade his soul for power and prestige, captures an archetype that occurs in many stories worldwide. Faustus makes a free decision to make this exchange, though he ignores the act of repentance that would be enough to let him escape eternal damnation. Indeed, part of the tragedy lies in the way in which Faustus is presented as being in hell from the moment he makes his pact. The frivolous and flippant way in which he uses his powers only reinforces his damnation. The fact that he is unaware of this highlights the tragedy of the play.

The way in which the pride and arrogance of Faustus prevents him from repenting directly results in his eternal damnation. The final scene of the play, where we see Faustus desperately trying to argue himself out of a situation from which only repentance can liberate him reinforces the tragedy of the play as we are made to see the way in which pride, ignorance and fear of punishment prevent him from gaining the salvation that it tantalisingly within his reach. The ending of the play, indicated by his damnation, is tragic because of the way that another outcome was always possible, had he been aware of it and had enough strength to embrace it.

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