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Dr Faustus as a Morality Play

Dr Faustus as a Morality Play

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Published by Pąpą Ki Rąni

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Published by: Pąpą Ki Rąni on May 10, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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English Drama in the beginning had three forms: Mystery,Miracle and Morality. The morality play is really a fusion of allegory and the religious drama of the miracle plays whichpresents the miracles of saints and the subjects taken fromthe Bible. It flourished in the middle ages and reappeared inElizabethan drama. In this play the characters werepersonified abstractions of vice or virtues such as Gooddeeds, Faith, Mercy, Anger, Truth, Pride etc. The generaltheme of the moralities was theological and the main onewas the struggle between the good and evil powers. Thetried to capture man’s soul and good always won. The storyof whole morality play centred round the single toweringfigure. The seven deadly sins were found engaged inphysical and verbal battle with cardinal virtues. The antics of vices and devils etc offered a considerable opportunity for low comedy or buffoonery. The morality play often endedwith a solemn moral.In the light of these points we may call Marlowe’s “Dr.Faustus” a belated morality play in spite of its tragic ending.It has been mentioned that in morality plays the characterswere personified abstractions of vice or virtues. In“Dr.Faustus” also we find the Good and Evil angels, theformer stand for the path of virtue and the latter for sin anddamnation, one for conscience and the other for desires.Then we have the old man appearing, telling Faustus thathe is there “To guide’ thy steps unto the way of life”. Hesymbolizes the forces of righteousness and morality. The
seven deadly sins are also there in a grand spectacle tocheer up the despairing soul of Faustus. If the, generaltheme of morality plays was theological dealing with thestruggle of forces of good and evil for man’s soul, then “Dr.Faustus” may be called a religious or morality play to a verygreat extent. We find Marlowe’s hero, Faustus, abjuring thescriptures, the Trinity and Christ. He surrenders his soul tothe Devil out of his inordinate ambition to gain:‘Dr. Faustus’ is a first successful Romantic tragedy. It is, infact, a bridge between the Morality play and Romantictragedy. Before Marlowe, the Morality drama was in vogue.It had personifications of abstract ideas like the Knowledge,the Ignorance, the Love, the Hatred, the Good, the Evil, theCruelty, the Kindness, etc. These abstractions were seen inconflict with each other. The Morality drama also involvedangels, demons and devils. Since it instilled some morallesson, it had also comic scenes to save the spectators fromboredom. The induction of comic scenes made its plotloose. In the end, the Evil was defeated and the Good wasexalted.‘Dr. Faustus’ is the first successful Romantic tragedy but ithas many elements of the Morality drama. First of all, thetheme of the play is built around a moral idea that pride hasa fall. It presents the doom of a great scholar, Dr. Faustus,who is puffed up with his pride and tries to soar higher withhis waxen wings. His inordinate ambitions, immoderatedesires and unabated lust for more and more power andpelf fell him into the pit of devilish exercise. He rejects all theconventional branches of knowledge because he is notsatisfied being a man. He wants to become as powerful as,
Jove is in the skyLord and commander of these elements.
He learns necromancy and is doomed. His damnationasserts the Christian belief,
Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.
Faustus, being a witch, is excluded from the Seat of God.His fall extorts the wise that they should not practiceforbidden arts. They should not transgress the law of Godand sell their soul to devil.Besides the theme, ‘Dr. Faustus’ has also technical aspectsof the Morality play. It has devils. Dr. Faustus conjures upMephistophilis. He makes an agreement with the Devil andsells his soul for the pleasure and profit of 24 years. Lucifer and Beelzebub also make their presence in the play. Dr.Faustus performs wonderful feats with the help oMephistophilis.The play has also the Good Angel and the Evil Angel whokeep on coming at times for their respective purposes. TheGood Angel advises Faustus to lay aside that damn bookotherwise he will be punished by God. He should study theBible and follow divinity. The Evil Angel tempts him to learnmagic because it contains all treasures of nature. He canget power and pelf which he longs for. When Faustus asksMephistophilis who made the universe, the devil does notanswer him. Then the Good Angel appears and tells himthat God has made the universe. The Angel encourages himto utter the name of God and seek His forgiveness. The Evil Angel threatens him of dire consequences if he names God.But the Good Angel assures him that the devil can’t touch

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