What are the dramatic elements of Marlowe's Doctor Faustus?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I would argue that the biggest dramatic element in this play is of course the presence of the supernatural and of magic. This is a play that is full of various devils and angels that wander around. It has more magic than a Harry Potter novel and there are dragons that pull chariots. This is clearly a central dramatic element and presents a significant challenge to any director as they have to think very carefully about how they are going to stage such elements.

What is interesting about the supernatural and magic, however, is that although they are so prominent, in another sense, they really are very unimportant to the central conflict of the play which is the battle for the soul of Faustus. This is of course featured when he sells his soul and then thinks about repenting and trying to save himself. In this sense, magic is something that can distract and is not really relevant to the central dramatic element, which is the massive conflict that Faustus himself faces for his soul and life. Marlowe seems to set aside magic and the supernatural, as obvious as it is, to focus on a very real battle between good and evil and how evil threatens to dominate one man's life. This would be the core dramatic element of this play.

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