Context (A04) on Doctor Faustus The Pardoner's Tale and Othello

Contextual information on Doctor Faustus (Marlowe), The Pardoner's Tale (Chaucer), and Othello (Shakespeare).


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Preview of Context (A04) on Doctor Faustus The Pardoner's Tale and Othello

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A04 The Pardoner's Tale
Chaucer was a 'commoner' in a highly hierarchical society until he married a woman of a high
social class at the age of 22.
Chaucer's move from different levels of society is represented in his wide range of characters,
from the pilgrims to the higher class Pardoner and Knight.
The Medieval period was marked by religious belief, approving not of pride.
Controversially was amidst the `vanity' of the Catholic Church
Male dominated society
Poverty was high in the 14th century, e.g. The Great Famine in 1315-1322
Calvinism early 1500's although PT written in between 1342-1400
The Peasant's revolt in 1381 broke out about taxes and the Black Death killed a third of the population.
It could be argued that gluttony and drunkenness gave comfort in times of hardship.
Penance- People also believed that to die in a state of sin was to risk eternal damnation in the
next world.
Pre-reformation church meant absolution
The Host, concluding that he has almost "caught a cardynacle" (had a heart attack) after the
brutality of the Physician's Tale, decides that he must have medicine in the form of a merry
tale, in order to restore his heart.

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A04 Doctor Faustus
BORN IN CANTERBURY IN 1564, the same year as William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe was an actor, poet, and
playwright during the reign of Britain's Queen Elizabeth I
Marlowe was suspected of having converted to Catholicism, a forbidden faith in late-sixteenth-century England,
where Protestantism was the state-supported religion.…read more

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A04 Othello
Black was traditionally the colour of evil and of the devil according to both biblical and mythological sources.
Interracial marriages would have been shocking-Othello is a cultural and racial outsider in Venice
Women were viewed as possessions who were financially dependent upon their fathers until they were `handed
over' to their husbands.
A woman's valued virtues were chastity, modesty, obedience and faithfulness to their husbands.
England was a superstitious country and people believed in omens and portents.…read more


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