The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus Essay

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Essay Question 1: How does Christopher Marlowe’s play ‘The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus’ engage with the broader literary, cultural and social concerns of the Renaissance? This essay will focus on the originality and characteristics of the Renaissance. The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus, a play by Christopher Marlowe, will be critically analysed in relation to the representation of the character of Dr Faustus and the Renaissance period. There will be a focus on key elements this character represents such as the pursuit of power and knowledge, the psychology presented through his character and how this relates to Renaissance features. The Renaissance period refers to the revival of art and learning in Europe, as it was a time of great social and cultural change in England and across Europe during the 16th century. ‘Renaissance’ is derived from the French word meaning ‘rebirth’ and because this era was inspired with a rebirth of interest in literature, art, philosophy and architecture influenced by the classical periods of Greece and Rome, the term is thus used to describe this era. This cultural movement derived from Italy, especially Florence during the late Middle Ages in the Elizabethan era (Spurr, 1997: 80). Literature before the Renaissance was mainly concerned with religious and metaphysical subjects. The Renaissance writers dealt with human characteristics and behaviour. The medieval Catholic culture was gradually replaced by humanism, and the move away from God with the emphasis on individualism and concentration on worldly things (Spurr, 1997: 82). The two main influences on Renaissance drama were Medieval drama, and Greek and Roman drama. The main characteristics of the Renaissance were: new intellectual discoveries; the scholar’s associated themselves with classical values, as articulated in the recently rediscovered classics of

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