Doctor Faustus, a tragic hero? A study of the theme of Repentance in Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus.
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This study has explored the contextual debate into the reasons why the character of Faustus in Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus does not repent his sins at the climax of the play. Many factors are taken into consideration including the religion at the time the play was written and the perception of the audience. The study considers different emerging philosophies and the influence of the other characters, both good and evil, within the play. It concludes with the consideration of whether Faustus can be considered a tragic hero and whether his lack of repentance has any effect on this. The investigation is split into three chapters to offer a variation of perspectives in which to analyse the chosen topic. The first chapter cements itself in a critical examination of the religion of Elizabethan England during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. It involves consideration of the biblical inclusion within the play, alongside the representation of good characters and contemplates how they might influence the character of Faustus. The second chapter addresses opposing views to what religion has to offer, as in an age of new discovery and exploration the faith of society was beginning to waver. The chapter then concludes with a deliberation of the involvement of some evil characters and how these have contributed to Faustus’s decision not to repent. The final chapter concludes with the perception of Faustus being celebrated as an Aristotelian tragic hero, and an overview of how all areas investigated have contributed to the climax of the play.
Dissertation by Samantha Walters for the BA English & Popular Culture course, submitted May 2012.
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