The central character in Christopher Marlowe’s play Doctor Faustus undergoes a gradual tragic downfall in a number of ways during the course of the play. Consider, for instance, these examples:
- In the prologue to the play, Faustus’s potential is stressed. His downfall is foreshadowed, but he is compared to Icarus, a memorable and literally lofty figure from classical mythology.
- When Faustus himself first appears on stage, his focus is still mainly intellectual, especially as he considers how he should spend his life – as a philosopher, theologian, doctor, or lawyer. Finally, ironically, he makes an especially bad choice: to dabble in black magic.
- Dabbling in black magic is bad enough, but Faustus soon actually summons up a demon from hell to serve as his assistant.
- When that demon actually appears and tries to warn Faustus not to proceed with his hellish plans,...
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