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Why do you consider Doctor Faustus a tragedy?

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minir | Elementary School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 18, 2010 at 8:34 PM via web

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Why do you consider Doctor Faustus a tragedy?

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mstokes | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted February 18, 2010 at 9:18 PM (Answer #1)

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A tragedy is defined as a drama or literary work in which the main character is brought to ruin or suffers extreme sorrow, especially as a consequence of a tragic flaw, moral weakness, or inability to cope with unfavourable circumstances.

If we examine Doctor Faustus we find a play in which the protagonist, a man of importance and outstanding personal qualities, falls to disaster through the combination of a personal failing and circumstances with which he cannot deal.

The possible range of human accomplishment is at the heart of Doctor Faustus. Faustus, scholar and lover of beauty, chafes at the bit of human limitation, he wants more and he seeks to leave behind the concept of human limitation. Faustus’s flaw is pride, pride gives rise to many other sins, these ultimatly bring about his downfall.

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akannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 19, 2010 at 9:07 PM (Answer #2)

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I would say that one reason why Marlowe's work represents tragedy is because it is the story of a protagonist who seeks to appropriate the world in accordance to his own subjectivity.  Within the seeds of his greatness are the very elements of his own destruction.  It is here where a tragic condition lies.  Faustus seeks to gain more knowledge, more understanding, and more control over his own world.  These attributes are brought to a tragic condition when it is seen that Faustus' destruction is not prevented by these qualities, but actually enhanced by them.  It is in this light where tragedy is apparent in the character.  This notion of seeking to make one's place in the world better actually setting the stage for one's own demise is a tragic predicament.

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