Doctor Faustus Questions and Answers
by Christopher Marlowe

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What elements mark Marlowe's Doctor Faustus as a typical Renaissance tragedy?

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Dolly Doyle eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Renaissance tragedies are characterized by their emphasis on character psychology. Characters are less often brought down by fate than they are by their own flaws as human beings. They have free will and choice, and this is what brings about their downfall, rather than merely being the victims of chance or a sinister figure.

For example, in Doctor Faustus, Faustus is not some cipher or every-man stand-in lacking personality. He is a unique individual whose personal shortcomings bring about his ultimate, tragic destiny. His greatest flaw is his pride. That is what makes him seek out infernal aid in gaining power and it is what prevents him from seeking God's forgiveness. One of the most tragic elements of the play is that Faustus could have been saved had he only asked for divine grace.

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Some of the characteristics that mark Christopher Marlowe's Dr. Faustus as a Renaissance tragedy are the questions addressed, comedic relief and the death of the hero. Christopher Marlowe lived from 1564, the...

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