An Exploration of the Presentation of the Tragic Hero in Dr Faustus Using Othello

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An exploration of the presentation of the tragic hero in Dr Faustus using Othello
As a comparative piece

A tragic hero is defined as a literary character that makes an error of judgement or has a fatal flaw. Greek philosopher Aristotle once claimed that ‘a man cannot become a hero until he sees the roots of his own downfall’. In the play ‘Dr Faustus’ written by Christopher Marlowe, the lead character displays these characteristics in his quest to satisfy his craving of Godly knowledge. Encountering great power and evil along the way it is in the indecisiveness and subsequent determination of Faustus that one can see his devastating downfall. This recurring theme of the battle between good and evil is not dissimilar to that seen in Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’, although this Elizabethan drama highlights the deceptive evil that is common in human nature, even under the persona of those considered allies.

Unlike the Shakespearian play ‘Othello’, the tragic hero in ‘Dr Faustus’ is initially presented displaying nobility. The very fact the audience would immediately see ‘FAUSTUS in his study’ is an effective structural device implicated to highlight his nobility having been gained through knowledge. This is further supported by Faustus’ first words of ‘settle thy studies’. It would be logical to associate studies with knowledge and nobility, considering its connotations of enlightenment and education. However as the scene progresses the on-going internal conflict Faustus creates becomes more and more evident, his declarative ‘necromantic books are heavenly’ is heavily juxtaposed, not only does this represent the battle and confusion inherent within him, but would especially have shocked a deeply religious audience at the time of production, blasphemy being a punishable offence in the Elizabethan era. The nobility of Faustus that is highlighted here differs
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