Dr Faustus Themes

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  • Dr Faustus
    • Renaissance
      • Individualism
        • Jacob Burckhardt
          • 'Man Became a spiritual Individual'
            • Men began testing their potential e.g Faustus began testing the potential of his knowledge
              • Men Rebelled against the traditional limitations of learning
                • Faustus Quotes which Support this
                  • 'Stretcheth as far as doth the mind of man' - Faustus is set out to beat the limits, the 'm's and 'th's give metrical weight which draws out the sense of measureless potential
                  • 'I  'Me' 'you' 'Faustus' - Egocentric, Faustus creates a panoptic space of his own singularity.
                  • People lacked the boldness of renaissance individualism
          • before renaissance 'Man was conscious of himself only as a member of race, people, party, family and corporation'
            • People lacked the boldness of renaissance individualism
      • Expansionism
        • Jan Kott
          • 'The renaissance was a time of excitement, of exploration and of constant questioning'
            • New  frontiers were being discovered and individuals were drunk off the idea of travel
              • Faustus becomes a renaissance tourist. - ' From thence to Venice, Padua and the rest'
                • things 'were celebrated lovingly in verbal and visual splendour'- , arts, writers such as Marlowe all contemporary ideas were appreciated
          • Discovery of the heleosentirc system during Faustus' period
            • Galleleo discovered that the tolemic system was not true, the sun did not revolve around the earth
      • Humanism
        • Greenblatt
          • Quotes Leucretius - the universe is nothing more than atoms arranged in a certain order which change and become something else
            • The idea of epicuronism. Only atoms are immortal and that there are no mortom punishments or rewards therefore there should not be fear of punitive Gods
              • Faustus says - 'Now tell me who made the world - pushing the boundaries - Ideas that Humans are the centre of creation and that the worlds creation is not organised by religious rules
                • 'Think'st thou that Faustus is so fond to imagine That after this life there is any pain' - Questioning the excistance of hell whilst with Lucifer, Humanist ideas that there is nothing to come after death and that there is no need to live life by religious rules as there is no judgement
      • Re-birth of Classical Influences
        • Iccarus
          • 'waxen wings'
            • Faustus represents the re-birth of the greek mythological tale about Iccarus. - Iccarus ventured to far and ended up dead. Show's Hubris.
        • Helen of Troy
    • Magic
      • Orthodox Renaissance Deamonologie
        • Roberts
          • He has argued that Faustus 'mobilises different  discourses about magic and sets them at odds'
        • The dominant form of magic, it is always sinful, detestable and diabolic
          • King James' Daemonologie (1597) - written around the same period of Faustus - suggests that the people of the period were paranoid / feared the Devil, suggests that ambition should not be mixed with intelligence. Black magic can be thought of but not made reality
      • High Magic
        • Magic which is used to expand the mind, Faustus' early speeches show aspirations of high magic as he desires further knowledge
          • 'As cunning as Agrippa was'
            • Agrippa is a theorisation of magic - the status of metaphysics
          • 'Who made the world?'
      • Popular ideas of magic
        • Displayed in the comic scenes or the scenes where Faustus is seen to be degenerated - it mainly parodies the protagonist's career
          • People could not read and therefore couldn't understand the complexities of Deamonologie and High Magic  thus leading them to believe in the ideas of witches and magicians
    • Power
      • Atkin
        • Faustus 'refuses to be constrained by the circumstances into which he was born'
          • 'Of power, of honour, of omnipotence' - Anaphora, 'O' sounds are assonance, He craves absolute power
      • Kirschbaum
        • Faustus is ultimately a 'wretched creature who for lower values gives up higher values'
          • ''I am servant to great Lucifer [...] No more than he commands must we preform'' - Mephostophilis. Faustus' power is limited to what Lucifer allows - His power is contingent and is merely used for entertainment
      • Gibson
        • ''In protestant  minds, Catholics were  [...] always seeking political influence, worldly power and riches'
          • ''Is not all power on earth bestow'd on us? And therefore though we would we can not err'' - Pope Adrian = Hyperbolic Language - There was a decree stating the pope cannot be wrong - adds to the plays discourse of power
      • Lucifer and the pope are Hubris although God has absolute power
        • 'All the places shall be hell that isn't heaven' - Mephastophilis' refrence to judgement day. Only God has control over when judgement day will take place, he has the power Lucifer, Faustus and the pope crave.
          • 'Faustus must be damn'd - Faustus, still egocentric. Does not have the power to control time, only God is omnipitant.
            • 'These are but shadows, not substantial' - Faustus' powers are pure illusions, they lack substance.
      • Faustus & the horse courser
        • Faustus speaks in earthy prose - this shows what he has descended to, his power is used as entertainment..
          • He then changes back to speaking in blank verse - 'Thy fatal time draws to a final end; Despair doth drive distrust into my  thoughts'- the form of the language is elevated, the degenerated words are symbolic of what his power has become.
    • Religion
      • Tyndale
        • The ' machinery of the play' informs the christian moral
          • no starker illustration of this than the steady contraction  of Faustus' ambition. The process which the prospectus of ''power'' ''honour'' and ''omnipotance'' degenerates into 'artful sport' to entertain a protestant audience through the slapstick mockery of Pope Adrian
      • Gibbon
        • Noted that an Elizabethan audience were deeply engaged in questions relating to the 'state of their souls' ; 'sin' and to post mortem punishment
          • Prologue - '' And glutted now with learning's golden gifts,/He surfeits upon cursed nemocracy'
            • Metrical stress on 'g' and 'c' evokes weight of where the audiences attention should be.
              • The  prologue and the epilogue may be read and self-standing collective Christian documents promoting the orthodoxies operated by the Elizabethan church.
                • Colon creates a pause with balances the bare absolutes either side
          • Epilogue 'Faustus is gone: regard his hellish fall'
            • Colon creates a pause with balances the bare absolutes either side
      • Barker
        • He argued that 'a strong sense of having escaped ' is a apart of the audiences experience which is accentuated by some scenes temporal pressure
          • 'All places  shall be hell that is not heaven'  - time is placed in the possession of God
      • Brooke
        • Argues that the humanist impulse is validated by the plays 'finest verse''
          • Faustus is presented as a martyr to the beauty so devoutly prized by renaissance ideas, in context Faustus' rejection to heavenly salvation in favour  of Helen may be interpreted as an act of exalted defiance
            • 'More lovely than the monarch of the sky/ In wanton Artheusa's azur'd arms'
  • Faustus Quotes which Support this
    • 'Stretcheth as far as doth the mind of man' - Faustus is set out to beat the limits, the 'm's and 'th's give metrical weight which draws out the sense of measureless potential
    • 'I  'Me' 'you' 'Faustus' - Egocentric, Faustus creates a panoptic space of his own singularity.

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