Doctor Faustus Essays: Applying the Psychoanalytical Approach


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Applying the Psychoanalytical Approach to Dr. Faustus            

 

Within the text of Christopher Marlowe's "Doctor Faustus," a reader notices the struggle between the superego and the id. Throughout the play, Faustus struggles with himself while Lucifer and Mephistopheles struggle with him. Though these huge conflicts take place in the text they aren't the greatest of situations when one tries to apply the psychoanalytical approach. The most obvious situation arrives with the introduction of the Seven Deadly Sins. They represent the constant struggle between the id and the superego. They add to the seduction of Dr. Faustus and the constant struggle in a chaotic Hell.

 

The id possesses most of the sins: Pride, Covetousness, Envy, Wrath, Gluttony and Lechery. All six of these sins show characteristics that are strong and powerful. Though these sound as if they were good characteristics, they are actually extremely over-bearing. When the sins explain who they are, they don't leave any room for argument. They just say who they are, and they take what they want. For example, Pride explains what he can do with a woman: "I can creep into every corner of a wench: sometimes, like periwig I sit upon her brow; next, like a necklace I hang about her neck; then, like a fan of feathers I kiss her..." (Marlowe, II.ii.120) Obviously, Pride feels powerful enough to take any woman he wants and perform with her any way he wants. With a sly and mischievous voice Pride states what he can do and no one can change it.

Another great representation of the id is Lechery or lust. Lechery just walks out and struts her stuff in front of Faustus. The reader realizes that her power is not in her words but in her presence. Even Lucifer notices her strength because he sends her away almost as fast as she comes in. "Away, to hell, away! On, piper!" (Marlowe, II.ii.177) Lechery closes the deal on Faustus. Her presence is so powerful that Faustus returns to the hands of Lucifer.

All six of these Seven Deadly Sins show their strength and power, for they don't back down, except to Lucifer. They do what they want and say what they please, because they are the angels of Lucifer, the most evil angel of them all. In achieving their goals they are very aggressive and Lucifer provides them all the freedom they need in order capture new souls like Faustus.

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Through this aggressiveness these six sins show their tendency toward the id.

On the other side of the seesaw, Sloth possesses no aggressiveness. He would rather sit and sleep than get up and do anything, whether it be talking, bathing or even eating. "Heigh-ho, I'll not speak a word more for a king's ransom." (Marlowe, II.ii.170) He is so lazy that the reader can even see Lucifer getting upset with him. This laziness perfectly depicts the superego. While all the other sins are aggressive, he would rather do nothing. Sitting back and doing nothing would be his way of life. Sloth's characteristics may not be as effective on Faustus, but Lucifer knows that there are other souls that will be convinced one day.

At the end of the introduction of the Seven Deadly Sins one easily sees why Hell is in such a chaotic state. It lacks an ego, the balance between the id and the superego. This is the constant struggle in Hell; either there are very aggressive souls or souls that just sit there and do nothing. Both the id and the superego try to steal another soul from Heaven, and these sins fight constantly in order to win over a soul for their mighty Lucifer. Obviously, the more aggressive sins conquer souls that show that balance between the id and superego. Their assertive behavior allows the sins to break down the ego and sway it toward the id where it is much easier for Lucifer to convince them to sell their souls to Hell. The superego, Sloth, mainly persuades those lazy people who seek nothing from life. He goes out and shows that lazy people that the place for them is Hell. In the end, the conflict between the superego and the id is exactly why Hell is the way it is. Because there is no ego, or balance between the id and superego, it creates the chaotic state of Hell.

 


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