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Dr. faustus as a tragedy of Reneissance aspirations

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user6675424 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 14, 2013 at 3:27 PM via web

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Dr. faustus as a tragedy of Reneissance aspirations

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tjbrewer | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted May 14, 2013 at 10:43 PM (Answer #1)

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The tragedy of Dr. Faustus, can be better understood as a tragedy of Renaissance aspirations from the opening of the related Boito Opera Mephistofeles.  The opera opens with the title character (AKA Satan) bragging that the "enlightenment" (an event that helped define the Renaissance) has made his self-appointed task of turning people away from God too easy.  God then points out that Dr. Faustus is part of the Enlightenment, but remains a faithful Christian.  A Job-like challenge arises (in the book of Job, Satan tried to turn Job by afflicting him with loss of wealth and health but failed, so God restored all that Job lost): Mephistofeles will try to turn Faustus by offering the full extent of the enlightenment (a Renaissance aspiration), in return for his soul. 

This is the tragedy, that unlike the Opera (Faustus escapes by saying "O Perfect Moment Stay" to a situation that Mephistofeles couldn't grant) many "enlightened" did fall into damnation for following the promises of enlightenment that ran contrary to the promises of God.  In the original play by Marlowe, Faustus doesn't escape the deal, he does sell his soul to the devil in pursuit of a false "noble quest."  The play and Opera of the same title are cautionary about the cost of enlightenment.  Boito's comical Opera, put a twist on the story to achieve a happy ending but the same warning is still there, to not let the Renaissance aspirations of enlightenment run contrary to promise of God's salvation preached by Christianity. 

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