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The Renaissance meant a revival of interest in Greek art, literature and ideas after the fall of Constantinople in 1453.
The Renaissance man was fascinated by new learning and knowledge. He took all knowledge to be his province. He regarded knowledge to be power. He developed an insatiable thirst for further curiosity, knowledge, power, beauty, riches, worldly pleasures and the like. The writer of this age represented their age in their work . Marlowe is the greatest and truest representative of his age. So the Renaissance influence is seen in everyone of his plays. Dr. Faustus represents the Renaissance spirit in various ways.
The most important desire of the renaissance man finds expression in Dr. Faustus. He has an unequalled thirst for knowledge and power to be acquired with the help of that knowledge. In the very beginning of the play Dr. Faustus is found considering the importance of various subjects which he may study. He is already studied various subjects at the universities and impressed scholars with his knowledge. After considering the relative importance of various subjects as - Logic, Metaphysics, Medicine, Law and Theology - he concludes that they can give knowledge but no power. He remarks :
Yet art thou still but Faustus, and a man.
So he decided to study the "Metaphysics of Magician" and regarded "necromantic books as heavenly". With the help of this knowledge he wants to acquire power and become a god. He remarks :
A sound magician is a mighty god.
Here Faustus, tire thy brains to gain deity.
In this we find a touch of the Machaivellian doctrine of end justifying the means without any moral consideration. Knowledge and practice of necromancy was prohibited by religion but Dr. Faustus decided to practice it.
The Renaissance man desired wealth and worldly pleasures. After his agreement with the Devil he would have spirits at his command to do whatever he liked. He would like them to bring gold from India, pearls from oceans and delicacies from every part of the world. He would also like to become king after chasing the prince of Parma from his land. In this way he would have a lot of power and wealth to enjoy worldly pleasures.
Like the Renaissance man Dr. Faustus wanted to travel across the world. So with the help of Mephistophilis he traveled to distant countries as France, Italy and other countries. Besides these learned Faustus :
To know the secrets of astronomy
Graven in the book of Jove's high firmament
Did mount himself to scale Olympus' top.
He views the clouds, the planets and the stars
The tropes, zones, and quarters of the sky
From east to west his dragons swiftly glide.
Besides having love of knowledge, power, worldly pleasures Dr. Faustus has the Renaissance love of beauty, so he wanted to have a wife the fairest maid that is in Germany. As he wanted to see the most beautiful woman in the world, he conjured the vision of Helen. He expressed his feeling of great delight in the following words :
Was this the face that launched a thousand ships.
And burnt the topless tower of Ilium.
The Reformation was a companion movement of the Renaissance. The Protestants challenged the authority of the Pope and disregarded him. Dr. Faustus not only disregarded the Pope and the Bishops, when he stayed in Pope's place, but gave him a box on the ear. He also made fun of bishops because he pointed that they were interested in only "belly cheer".
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