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Motivations for Faustus's Rebellion Essays

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In the Faust legend, a man by the name of Faust or Faustus sells his soul to the devil for twenty-four years of ultimate worldly power. Although the tale of this German scholar/ magician called Johann Faust or Faustus has been re-told many times over, no version has become more prominent and controversial in English literature and history than that of Christopher Marlowe's play first published eleven years after his death in 1604. Marlowe's reworking is possibly the first dramatization of the medieval myth of a man who sold his soul to the Devil, and who became identified with a necromancer of the sixteenth century. Written in a time of religious uncertainty and social upheaval, the tale of Doctor Faustus explores the elements involved when a rebellion is made on an individual basis, but with supernatural means and disastrous consequences. The Medieval times were over and the Renaissance was emerging. However, influences of both can be found in the play and are reflected in Faustus's circumstances as a man torn between two traditions and dealing with personal conflict and frustrations. In the course of this short paper I will explore the motivations of this once intelligent, assertive and learned individual to begin a most sinister and supercilious rebellion which ultimately propels him to eternal damnation.

The play begins characteristically with the Chorus explaining that the subject of the play is contemporary rather than classical and offers doubt as to the state of Faustus's fortunes; `The form of Faustus' fortunes, good or bad' and leaves the reader/ audience to find out. The confusion of the moral terms is a verbal technique which features in the play and Faustus's mind especially through the use of physical ima...


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... We see throughout the play that Faustus is dominated almost uncontrollably by two main character traits: intellect and ambition. It is the intellect that creates doubt when ambition alone would simply carry him forward in his devilish contract, but it is also intellect that makes his ambition possible in the first place. Faustus is filled with contradictions and shows that despite all his intense learning, is capable of stupidity as well as intelligence, cruelty and generosity and bravery and cowardice. It was a combination of all of these that lead to his motivations to make his ambitions reality and fulfill and experience 24 years of everything that he longed for in life. The Faustus myth will continue to be used as an example of when extreme sins got the better of a great scholar and will continue to be a source of amusement for audiences and readers to come.


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