Prospero And Faustus Essay

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The principal characters of Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus and Shakespeare’s The Tempest are defined by their relationships to magic and their pursuit of power. Both Faustus and Prospero are men of wisdom, yet they willingly subjugate their reason to desire. Ironically, Dr. Faustus’ slavish desire for further knowledge and understanding leads to his damnation. The former Duke of Milan rejects his political authority in favour of a life of contemplation. Their relative places in human community directly influence the resolution of the plays and their own redemption. Faustus, a scholar, is defined by his isolation, whereas Prospero, a duke, is shaped by his former participation in political life. However, audiences see a usurped duke’s desired return to political community, while Faustus descends into a state of increasing isolation. These proud men seemingly deny their humanity and seek solace and conciliation in magic. Moreover, Prospero and Faustus’ relationships to magic are quite similar. Though their powers are largely illusionary, audiences struggle to see if magic strengthens or weakens their person.   The symbolic representation of Faustus and Prospero reflect the nature of their character and their relationship to magic, which are made manifest by books. Furthermore, the notion of redemption and resolution in Dr. Faustus and The Tempest challenge conventional authority. As Prospero willingly abandons his magic, Faustus is consumed by the dark arts. Though the similarities between the two characters are abundant, their differences highlight Marlowe and Shakespeare’s respective views on the nature of reason, reconciliation, and the strength of human activity.
The downfall of Dr. Faustus and Prospero is closely related to their relative place in society. Faustus is heralded as a brilliant scholar and a skillful physician. Though he has protected Wittenberg from the Plague and is an admired professor, Faustus is largely defined by his isolation and detachment from...

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