How does Christopher Marlowe use classical and religious imagery throughout Doctor Faustus to emphasize the play's themes?

Expert Answers

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

Many of the themes of the play are embodied in a forthright manner in Doctor Faustus himself—indeed, the play reads even better as allegory than as a fictional history of the protagonist. To underline and add weight to his themes, Marlowe makes great use of classical and religious imagery.

One of the most readily apparent uses of religious imagery is seen in the exhibition of the Seven Deadly Sins. Each one, made manifest by Lucifer, steps forward to provide a brief biography. Later, we can see how Faustus, drunk with power, enacts the sins through his various debaucheries: Wrath, with his furious punishment of the assassin knights; Covetousness, by eating the Carter’s entire load of hay for three farthings; and Lechery, in the summoning of Helen of Troy to be his own paramour, among other examples.

The overriding theme, of course, is that of pride leading to a fall. This is referenced explicitly when Mephistophilis tells Faustus, in response to the latter inquiring about the demon’s...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 863 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team