Faustus and Everyman an Analysis of Resemblance Term Paper

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Faustus and Everyman

An Analysis of Resemblance: Faustus and Everyman

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Marlow's Doctor Faustus can be viewed on various levels, four of which are worth mentioning: First, Doctor Faustus can be considered as "Homiletic tragedy" in which the protagonist incarnates intellectual pride, compared with both Icarus and Lucifer -- existing simply to be punished. Second, it can be interpreted as a new kind of psychological play for the conflict lies entirely within the hero himself (Faustus) who is actually torn between conflicting worldly desires, religious commitments and ethical requirement. Third, it may well be seen as "blasphemous" or a heroic anti-morality play because, according to the humanist view, Faustus rebels against the limitation of medieval knowledge and does not accept the restriction put upon mankind decreeing that he must accept his place in the universe without challenging it. Consequently, he sets up the conflict between the limitation of man's knowledge and his justified desires to go beyond the frontiers of that knowledge to glorify his thirst for gaining more and more. Fourth, Doctor Faustus can be notably regarded as a more developed morality play for the good deal of resemblance it bears to the conventions that determines the morality play. The purpose of this paper is to shed light on the fourth level which shows the intimate connection, between Doctor Faustus and Everyman (as a morality play), and in which case Doctor Faustus may be interpreted as a new form of morality play. This paper, therefore, will analyze the resemblance between Faustus and Everyman with regard to character, theme, structure, form and other dramatic conventions, and show Faustus is Marlowe's depiction of morality in the new modern world.


Term Paper on Faustus and Everyman an Analysis of Resemblance: Assignment

Faustus, the chorus tells us, is not of noble and saintly spheres, but a man of common ancestry -- a man like the medieval Everyman. Yet, unlike Everyman, whose schooling was doubtlessly English (and free of the contamination of the coming Protestantism already rampant throughout the continent), Faustus has studied (like Hamlet) at Wittenberg (a place famous for its connection to Luther). Whether the Lutheran influence has had some effect on Faustus, one can only presume -- but the fact remains that Faustus and Everyman are separated not only by a generation, but also by a theology; the former's is thoroughly Catholic and rooted in medieval ecclesiology; the latter's is already one step more modern -- as is intimated by the various interpretations that can be given Faustus. While Everyman is an obvious morality play, Faustus (by the sheer fact of its historical entry into literature at a point when the new world had definitively broken with the old) is modern and, therefore, lacking certitude. Structurally and characteristically this is so. However, because the resemblance of Faustus to Everyman is nonetheless apparent thematically, one is apt to pursue the analogies even further and examine how Faustus (despite its having modern qualities) corresponds to the formula of the morality play. Like Shakespeare, who had one foot in the old world and one foot in the new, Marlowe's Faustus may be viewed as a similar bridge.

If both Everyman and Faustus are of common stock, it may be concluded that both are, as well, on a spiritual journey. Neither appears to be fully cognizant of this most important fact until it is too late, of course. When the issue is made apparent, Everyman still has access to the sacraments, which assist him in his quest to Heaven; Faustus lives, however, at a time when England had closed the Catholic churches, Calvinist theology was popular among scholars, and access to the sacraments of the Church was only by stealth. In terms of religious practicality, it is easier for Everyman to save his soul than it is for Faustus. In this sense, Faustus is a more complex reflection of the medieval morality play solely because it is modern and not medieval. The medieval avenues to grace are cut off -- Knowledge and Penance are nowhere to be found in Faustus (and Good Deeds is seemingly asleep still lying in a ditch); Faustus is bereft of symbolic friends: on the contrary, Faustus' friends are all too human or else demonic.

Setting the Theme

Yet, setting such a point aside, one may articulate the symbolic nature of the characters in Faustus and equate them to the symbolic characters found in Everyman. But first let us look at the symbolic nature of setting: Faustus is a German doctor in the locale of Wittenberg, famous for having two men in attendance there -- Martin Luther and Hamlet. The location is significant; for both Luther and Hamlet had problems related to Faustus' -- namely a kind of spiritual despair: Luther believed sin could not be overcome; Hamlet could not accept that man could be both good and evil. Faustus, likewise, despairs of his salvation believing he has already gone too far into sin and cannot be forgiven. But, of course, he made the conscience decision to pursue the devilish arts from the very beginning: "Divinity, adieu / These metaphysics of magicians / And necromantic books are heavenly."

Is this sin akin to Everyman's, which can be more or less related to sloth or lukewarmness? It appears to be of a different and far more evil nature -- and yet the possibility of redemption is never far from hand, spiritually speaking. Redemption is, after all, the theme that rides the back of both plays. All the same, the scholar turned necromancer displays great pride in his abilities and lacks the humility required to beg God's forgiveness for his capitulation to Lucifer. He ignores all the signs of God's grace and continues on with his own damnable desires -- playing tricks on people for his own amusement, but never doing anything good or worthwhile until finally his time is up. Having ignored God's grace throughout, Faustus is in no disposition to accept it now, and rejects the opportunity. Marlowe's apparent message is: one dies as he has lived. And the message is equally loud in Everyman.

As Rainer Pineas asserts, the pre-Reformation morality plays (of which the anonymously-penned Everyman sits at the forefront) were means by which the English audience might be reminded in dramatic fashion of the sacramental grace needed to attain salvation.

Indeed, Everyman, the medieval representative of the ordinary man of faith in the last century of Christendom, typifies the kind of lukewarm religious practice that triggered the Protestant Reformation and the collapse of Christendom as a union of kingdoms. Death personified calls Everyman to make his reckoning before God (just as Mephistopheles urges Faustus to repent), thus putting not only the title character in mind of the purpose of Christian life but also the audience. In the 16th century, death would have been perceived -- not as an end in itself -- but as a beginning of a "long journey" -- a pilgrimage to one's eternal resting place, whether with God in Heaven or without Him in Hell. Death's object in Everyman is to bring Everyman before God, where he will be judged for how he has lived his life -- which has been leased him by God. The life, it would have been understood by the medieval audience, was not his own but God's -- and therefore to God one owed an accounting. That distinction would be less clear by Marlowe's time: as Protestantism and Revolution surfaced throughout Europe, the elevation of Self also surfaced. Indeed, the ideals of Selfhood and Naturalism so rampant in the philosophy of Romantic/Enlightenment doctrine that grew out of the Protestant Reformation were nothing more than the expression of Self as Ruler: God (at least in the traditional/medieval sense) had been dethroned.

Structure and Form

This dethronement is structurally essential to the idea of Faustus, the title character of which deliberately sets the black arts in place of the divine. It may be argued that Everyman also does this (in a sense by, for example, neglecting his duties as a Christian and employing his time with worldly and sinful affairs), but it is with less deliberation that Everyman embarks on a path toward damnation. Faustus, whose wisdom to know better may be compared to Solomon's (another figure of the highest learning who turned away from God out of pride), takes conscious steps to do evil. There is a kind of malice in Faustus that is all but absent in the repentant Everyman: Faustus wants only to amuse himself (just as Augustine said Nature desired to do some millennium before Marlowe) and has no desire to apply himself to grace and work toward his salvation. Only when his desires are thwarted (such as when he attempts to marry), does he feel a pang of conscience. But this pang brings into question a host of new ideas that Everyman (in a less skeptical time) knows well enough to leave alone: for Everyman, whose time has run out, only one thing matters -- and that is finding a friend to intercede for him so that his… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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