Discuss Doctor Faustus as a typical Renaissance Man.

Doctor Faustus is a typical Renaissance Man in that he has an insatiable desire for knowledge. He wants to find out more about himself, his fellow man, and the world around him in true Renaissance fashion. He's also impatient with man's limitations, which is why he's so ready to enter into a pact with the Devil. In return for twenty-four years of power, he agrees to sell his soul to Lucifer.

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Marlowe's play is often framed as entering into a debate between medieval and Renaissance values, with Faustus representing the Renaissance.

The term "Renaissance man" refers to the individuals in the Renaissance who developed a wide breadth of knowledge across many fields. (Today people with such vast knowledge are still called Renaissance men or women.) These individuals wanted to understand art and science, religion and medicine—to be apprised of the whole spectrum of knowledge. Da Vinci is probably the exemplar of that tradition.

At the core, the Renaissance man wanted to break away from medieval Christian narrowness of vision and incorporate ideas from the classical world and direct observation into a broader, more enlightened Christian worldview.

Faustus is a typical Renaissance man in that he rejects putting restrictions on his quest for knowledge. He has a great desire to gain knowledge, even in forbidden areas. He wants to move beyond merely bowing to the traditions of the Church fathers. Knowledge is his route to power. He is also a Renaissance man, rather than an Enlightenment man, in that he has not lost faith in the supernatural. He does believe he has an immortal soul that he can sell the devil, and he believes in heaven and hell. It is simply that when he is offered his deal, the 24 years until the day of reckoning seems a long time off, and he thirsts, like a Renaissance man, to have knowledge now.

The play does not critique Faustus's desire for knowledge as much as it criticizes the ways he goes about trying to obtain it. Deals with the devil are shown to be a cheat. The Devil can offer very little beyond a few cheap tricks.

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Doctor Faustus has an almost insatiable appetite for knowledge. Being a typical Renaissance Man, there are no limits to the amount of knowledge he wishes to acquire. The problem, however, is that man, by his very nature, is a limited creature. He cannot and will not know everything there is to know, no matter how much he wants to.

Faustus, in common with many of his contemporaries, isn't satisfied with man's intellectual limitations. He feels that there's a whole world of knowledge out there just waiting to be discovered. Much of it will go unexplored, though, because when push comes to shove, even a Renaissance Man is still just a man. Faustus will always be limited in his capacities.

What Faustus needs more than anything else is greater power, and he's determined to do whatever he can to get it. He's even prepared to go to the extraordinary lengths of selling his soul to the Devil for twenty-four years of power. By doing this, he is playing with fire and he knows it. Because he's the quintessential Renaissance Man, because having power over the world and the increased knowledge it will bring is so important to him, he's prepared to risk his soul no matter the consequences.

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Renaissance man is a modern term, first found in the written word in the early 1900s, that stands for an individual who is proficient in many fields and endeavors of knowledge, at times rivaling the proficiency of experts. The concept is based however on the great thinkers of the 1300s and 1400s who were masters of a vast number of fields of knowledge. The prime example of this sort of master is Leonardo da Vinci whose notebooks and art works show that he excelled in many divergent fields of knowledge.

Doctor Faustus, of the legend and of Marlowe's drama, was similarly proficient in every field of academic knowledge open at the time. He mastered such areas as divinity, law, economy, and mathematics. When Marlowe's play opens, Faustus is debating which field to cling to:

Settle thy studies, Faustus, and begin
To sound the depth of that thou wilt profess:

The end of the debate is that he will deepen his knowledge of the art of magic and summon demons to do his bidding and give him the unlimited power he covets. Thus he will add one more area of proficiency to his breadth of knowledge.

A sound magician is a mighty god:
Here, Faustus, tire
thy brains to gain a deity.

From the descriptions above, it is clear that Doctor Faustus does indeed fit both the concept of a man of learning living during the 14th and 15th centuries as well as fit the modern construct of the Renaissance man.

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He was a lover of arts, a connoiseur of many disciplines of all forms, a practicing scholar and a philosopher, a dweller in the supernatural, an orator, a professor, and a student of a myriad of different fields. He was able to fit in every circle, even though his own petulance madfe him unable to be normal. Yet, these elements made him whatwe call these days a "Renaissance Man," or a man who can basically do it all with grace.

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Dr. Faustus has aspirations of acquiring knowledge that reach far above the commonly perceived boundaries of the time - maybe even taking him beyond the 'forbidden tree of knowledge'But he doesn't necessarily have the skills to attain this unearthly intelligence, or the linguistic prowess or imaginative scope. The potential merits of existing or even prospering in a world without a God seem unattainable - we and Faustus are only human. However, we can identify with him as we are all questioning curious beings and there are answers that we would all like to have whether they be about the limits of the universe or the cause of the Big Bang. Whether we would be prepared to go beyond the bounds of decency or moral limits is where the difference lies. Also, would we use the privilege of unearthly knowledge to do good or wise acts, or seek to further our own trivial materialistic needs? Faustus seems a Renaissance figure in his infinite appetites and the things he wants and also in his willingness to rid his world of everything that stands in the way of his own illusory enjoyment. Faustus very nearly "had it all" but wouldn't have deserved it and threw it all away.

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