Why is the knowledge about the Magna Carta important for the study of Doctor Faustus?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The original question had to be edited.  The connection between the Magna Carta and Marlowe's work is not immediate.  I think that one particular link between the two both represent the experience of human freedom.  The Magna Carta embodies the promise of individual freedom.  It explores the dimensions of what can be done with freedom.  Granting individual rights enables human freedom and capacity to be expanded.  There is a certain promise and possibility in such a notion.

Marlowe's work is a reminder of how there is a propensity for human destruction within individual freedom.  The same choice and opportunity that is within the Magna Carta's protection of individual rights is shown to be a condition where Faustus makes dreadful choices. The implication in the Magna Carta's construction of individual rights is that if given the option to choose well, human beings would do so.  This is shown to be the opposite in Marlowe's work.  Faustus has individual freedom, and yet chooses to do what should not be done.  It is here in which the work serves as a countervailing force to the Magna Carta.  In understanding the Magna Carta in relation to the work, one gains a deeper comprehension of both.


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