Psychoanalytical, Feministic, and Cultural Perspectives in Dr. Faustus
Christopher Marlowe's acclaimed Doctor Faustus uses many rhetorical methods to breathe life into the plot and story line. There are obviously psychoanalytical methods used, as well as certain aspects of the feministic method, somewhat less evident, but no less important are the cultural background issues that come into play. These three methods help to smooth the edges and round out the corners of this complex journey into the fictitious life of a highly educated man who appears to have anything he would need.
Psychoanalytically speaking, the battles between the id and superego of Dr. Faustus, cause severe turmoil in his moral conscience. This is evident in the text by the battery of the two angels, one holy and the other evil. He even consciously battles with his id, when he cries out, "O Christ, my savior, my savior! Help to save distressed Faustus' soul." (P. 48, lines89-90) Faustus often becomes offensive with Mephastophilis throughout the story line. Lucifer and Belzebub have a brief cameo to persuade Faustus from his desires to fall back into the ranks of God's followers. Finally, in the final moments of the play, Faustus undergoes an incredible examination of conscience in a vain attempt to regain his place within the Kingdom of God.
Considering the fact that Christopher Marlowe wrote this play knowing that the cast would be predominantly male cast, there is considerable material to be used for feministic analysis. Unfortunately, because of the fact that the part of Mephastophilis was played by a female in the Shenandoah Shakespeare Express's rendition of the play, it is hard to determine whether the same sexual innuendoes would have been apparent if the part had been played by a male. Regardless, the performed text comes across as Mephastophilis acting in a very sexual manner towards Dr. Faustus when the devil is tempting the good doctor.