Comment on the pictorial quality, ecstasy and passionate energy of Marlowe's poetry in Dr. Faustus.  I want a note on this topic.

Expert Answers
teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Marlowe uses a combination of iambic pentameter and prose in this play, as well as soliloquy and allegory. His is the rich language of the Renaissance English stage, offering a true wealth of intoxicating imagery (description using the fives senses.) The play’s language, some have said, is so beautiful that it helps hide the narrowness of Faustus’s soul. In this sense, Faustus, successfully tempted by the devil to hell and perdition—even when, at the very end, all he had to do was repent—is like Milton's Satan: the play's gift for words can hide his inner emptiness.

If allegory, such as the Seven Deadly sins, where people play the roles of vices such as gluttony or sloth, is a medieval form that Marlowe uses, Marlowe's language also shows the way the riches and heightened awareness of other parts of the world enhanced the Renaissance imagination. For example, when the evil angel tempts Faustus to be a god ("Jove") on earth, Faustus's imagination soars and he says:

I'll have them fly to India for gold,
Ransack the ocean for orient pearl,
And search all corners of the new-found world
For pleasant fruits and princely delicates. 

We can easily picture in our mind's eye this bounty of gold, pearl and fruit pouring in from all over the world.

Likewise, the magician Valdes uses rich imagery to entice Faustus, saying:

   As Indian Moors obey their Spanish lords, So shall the spirits of every element Be always serviceable to us three; Like lions shall they guard us when we please; Like Almain rutters with their horsemen’s staves, Or Lapland giants, trotting by our sides; Sometimes like women, or unwedded maids, Shadowing more beauty in their airy brows Than have the white breasts of the queen of love ...

Marlowe could have merely likened the spirits that Valdes says will protect Faustus and the magicians to Indian Moors, but he extends the metaphor of protection to lions, Almain rutters, Lapland giants, and even virgins. This kind of language is seductive, to audiences as well as Faustus, and the piling on of images is energetic and ecstatic, showing how one could be seduced by words to the devil's lures.

raf1820 | Student

 

 

 

jj