Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus as Morality Play or Tragedy

Subject: Literature
Pages: 2
Words: 384
Reading time:
2 min

“Doctor Faust” by Christopher Marlowe is considered a play with elements of morality and tragedy. At the beginning of the play, after the main character’s introductory speech, the reader is presented with a Good and a Bad Angel. In work, they represent abstract moral qualities that can be traced through their names.

The use of characterization as a technique for transmitting moral values gives reason to speak about the morality of the play. In the course of the play, they are inextricably linked with Faust, accompanying his every act. This conflict between a good beginning and a bad beginning is a characteristic of a moral play. The chapter notes that the struggle of these two principles in the human soul carries a didactic message, showing how to live a proper Christian. However, in Marlowe’s moral play, morality is also used to entertain the audience, having the features of comedy. The emotions that the play evokes, such as pity, fear, and experience, give it the characteristics of a tragedy.

Written in a nineteenth-century context, Marlowe’s work touches heavily on the subject of religion. On the one hand, Faust is praised for the fact that despite his non-prominent origin, he achieved heights in his chosen profession. However, at the same time, his exceptional knowledge spoiled him and prompted him to resort to the study of forbidden magic, unacceptable to the Christian universe. Faust believes that his abilities will not be enough to bring him closer to The Almighty and that only magic will help him achieve this goal. In the prologue, the view shows that religion restricts ambitions and high human abilities, seeing them as a sinful beginning.

Thus, the studied work is a symbiosis of moral teaching and tragic description. Religion places unfair limitations on the expression and potential of a person. Faust himself expresses confidence in human abilities, reflecting the humanistic views that gained increasing dominance in the nineteenth century. However, while still being aware of the existence of Evil and good, it is necessary to understand that the play contrasts faith in man and faith in God. Given the above, it can be argued that Marlowe’s play Doctor Faust has both the features of a tragedy and a moral play.