Doctor Faustus Questions and Answers
by Christopher Marlowe

Doctor Faustus book cover
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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...

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salimj | Student

All the critiques ,without any doubt,agree that 'Doctor Faustus' is a man of Renaissance.  Faustus's inexhaustible thirst for knowledge, his worship of beauty, his passion for classic, his interest in magic, his admiration for super-human ambition and all the other interests prove Dr. Faustus to be a Renaissance man.

In the very opening scene of the play when he rejects the traditional subjects of study and turning to magic, his thirst for renaissance values is very clear.  He was thinking of the the 'world of profit and delight, of power , of honour,of omnipotence" which he thinks to enjoy as a magician. He is filled with curiosity, desire for wealth and luxury, nationalism and longing for power. These were the salient features of Renaissance. Faustus desires gold from East Indies, pearls from depths of sea and pleasant fruits from America.

The paramount characteristic of the Renaissance spirit is the spirit of enquiry. This spirit is a part of the life of Doctor Faustus. Marlow expresses both the good and bad element of this spirit.  The danger is seen in the last soliloquy in which Faustus offers to burn his book. He says, "O,would I had never seen Wittenberg, never read book!". Doctor Faustus owes its ideas and thoughts from Italian Renaissance. Italian Renaissance thinkers spoke about the limitations of man and thought that knowledge as the only solution to come out of this limitation. Here the knowledge of magic helps him , to a certain extent to come out of the limitation of Faustus

nusratfarah | Student

Think about these following points:

1) Faustus is an individual man. He is a superior scholar, led by his own will, prefers to take decisions self-willingly, paying heed to nobody.

2) Faustus is a practitioner of knowledge, and not only that, is accused of practising black magic as Albertus Magnus or Roger Bacon of the Renaissance period were accused. He is a famous artisan. And for this, he gets entangled in the cobweb of Power. According to Foucault, there is a nexus between power and knowledge. But it is evident in the play that, Faustus's craving for knowledge, his thirst to cross the limit of gaining knowledge like an Icarus, shows his Renaissance characteristic.

3) Faustus's love for beauty, definitely proves a Renaissance feature, which is manifested through his love toward Helen's Classical beauty.

4) Above all, Faustus chooses knowledge and self over God. that you can take as the most significant Renaissance part of his Character.

Now, if you think about the points above, I think you will find your answer. Please don't forget to include quotes from the play.