Is "Doctor Faustus a tragedy of the renaissance and reformation?"

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Renaissance, as we know, was a widespread cultural and educational movement in history during which the old conventions of medieval age were dissolved followed by liberation in all arenas of life and culture. It was marked by the increased quest for power, learning, knowledge; Worldliness, materialism; and love and hankering for sensual pleasures, beauty etc.

We see in the play that Doctor Faustus is not satisfied with the classical knowledge, he yearns for more. His proud declarations, supreme thirst for more knowledge and power, inclination towards worldly pleasures lead towards his tragic end. In his last soliloquy, Faustus blames his divine knowledge for his downfall and even wishes to burn his books. He falls for lust and sensual desires also. Even in his last days, he spends time indulging in debauchery. Hence Doctor Faustus is the tragedy of Renaissance.

Reanaissance was immediately followed by widespread Reformation and Protestantanism. The Reformers and Protestants challenged the Church doctrine.

Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus embraces the spirit of Reformation. In the play, the Pope is shown to be an unholy, greedy man. When Faustus plays tricks, the Pope and others think it is a ghost from purgatory and try to use a bell and candle. This is a direct satire on Christian beliefs. Moreover, Mephistopheles appears as a Friar, another attack on Catholicism. This was actually a popular view of them during Reformation.

We can thus say that Christopher Marlowe's play Doctor Faustus is a tragedy of Renaissance and Reformation.



If you use this response in your own work, it must be cited as an expert answer from eNotes. All expert answers on eNotes are indexed by Google and other search engines. Your teacher will easily be able to find this answer if you claim it as your own.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial