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Essay on The Religious Motivations of Christopher Marlowe's Dr Faustus

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The Religious Motivations of Christopher Marlowe's Dr Faustus


Dr Faustus is a short play written by Christopher Marlowe. The play is a masterful insight into the paradoxical soul of mankind and its ironically self inflicted corruption. The play could be classified as a theological allegory. It can be assumed that the play specifically speaks to the religious motivations of the time, but can be adapted to the present as well. Marlowe portrays Faustus’ ambition as dangerous; it was the cause of his demise. Perhaps Marlowe used the theme of over-ambition as a warning to the audience, who would be likely to be wary of ambition - it was looked down on as a negative personality trait in Christian England (Calvinism) (Munteanu, Class notes). An on going theme within the story is the corruption of a soul which is played out through the use of religious beliefs. Specifically, the use of the seven deadly sins is a precursor to man kinds self inflicted death. Marlowe uses sin, redemption and damnation to get his point across to the audience. The sins that Marlowe specifically uses are those of: pride, covetousness, wrath, envy, gluttony, sloth and lechery. Theses sins are colourfully displayed through the character traits of Dr Faustus. In the process we view them and can adapt them to our own lives and how they are all parts to the corruption of our souls.

Marlowe reflects ambition in the character of Faustus to deter the audience from being ambitious, and over-reaching their place in the laws of the church. Marlowe uses symbols of religion to fill the play such as the use of the dark arts, angles, demons, God, the Devil, quotes from the bible, the symbol of blood, and the use of the seven sins. With the use of these icons he humou...


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...se to the teachings of John Calvin.
(Munteanu, 2002). Therefore it can be said that Marlowe is attempting to alter the doctrines his fellow country men with whom are questioning their religions. Marlowe uses the renaissance ideals with the medieval myths to master his point. This work is a forewarning of damnation by those who attempt to alter the doctrines or moral standards, and a beacon of caution to those in search of the unknown. Dr Faustus, the work of good and evil. When man becomes idle his mind wanders and he wants more. With the wealth of knowledge Dr Faustus wanted more, he was no longer content with his academia since they could no longer provide him with wealth and fame as well as fulfill his souls want, he turned to the mastering of the dark arts.

Work Cited

Marlowe, Christopher. Dr. Faustus. General Publishing Company Ltd. Toronto, ON. 1994.


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