“Doctor Faustus forms a bridge between the worlds of the Medieval and the Renaissance.” Explain.
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This play, in the character of Doctor Faustus himself, represents not so much a bridge between Medieval values and Renaissance values, but a clash and conflict between these two opposing schools of thought. Marlowe wrote this play at a key historical period where Renaissance values of scientific discovery and the power of the individual were slowly replacing medieval values which saw God as the most important aspect of life and theology as the only way of understanding the world and man's secondary place within it. Faustus, in his opening speech in Act One, displays typical Renaissance hubris by his determination and the extent of his ambition to learn every secret he can and to profit from that knowledge:
These metaphysics of magicians,
And necromantic books are heavenly;
Lines, circles, letters, characters.
Ay, these are those that Faustus most desires.
O what a world of profit and delight,
Of power, of honour, and omnipotence,
Is promised to the studious artisan?
Significantly, Faustus turns to his books as the receptacles of all knowledge, demonstrating the Renaissance belief that study and science and inquiry lie at the heart of man's search for truth and desire to unlock the mysteries of the universe. At the end of the play, however, Faustus has to acknowledge the strength of medieval values as, unfortunately for him, he has to concede that God cannot be sidelined so easily. The play therefore represents the conflict between Renaissance and medieval values, with the excesses of the Renaissance explored and condemned.
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