How does Doctor Faustus represent the aspirations of a Renaissance scholar?

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The Renaissance was a great intellectual and cultural movement based on the rediscovery of ancient learning. It gave rise to a humanistic philosophy which put man, not God, at the center of the universe, and that's precisely how Doctor Faustus sees himself.

Like the archetypal Renaissance man he is, he has a deep passion for knowledge, an insatiable desire to assert himself against a world rapidly becoming more and more intelligible. There's a restlessness about him, a sense that the world's somehow not big enough for him. He wants to explore, to discover, to know and to learn. But more than anything else, he seeks the power that increased knowledge can bring. For Doctor Faustus, as much as any Renaissance man, knowledge is indeed power, and the more he can have of both the better, even if it means selling his soul to the Devil.

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The Renaissance saw a huge push in scientific knowledge. With the invention of the printing press in 1440, books were more likely to start circulating and spread new discoveries. Many discoveries and advancements were made during this time by many names we would recognize today. Famous scientists from the Renaissance include Galileo Galilei, who invented the telescope; Nicolaus Copernicus, who proposed the solar system revolved around the sun; and William Henry, who discovered the circulation of blood.

Faustus represents the greed for more knowledge. He has exhausted himself in all earthly studies, so he makes a deal with the devil to gain magic. Renaissance scholars would have wanted the notoriety that came along with a new scientific advancement but also didn’t land them in jail. The above-mentioned Galileo was interrogated by the Spanish Inquisition and found guilty for heresy. For Faustus, the only way to learn more was to gain power through magic.

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