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Unformatted text preview: Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus AA100_1 Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus Page 2 of 64 12th July 2018 Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus About this free course This free course is an adapted extract from the Open University course AA100 The Arts Past and Present: 0.htm. This version of the content may include video, images and interactive content that may not be optimised for your device. You can experience this free course as it was originally designed on OpenLearn, the home of free learning from The Open University – There you’ll also be able to track your progress via your activity record, which you can use to demonstrate your learning. The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA Copyright © 2016 The Open University Intellectual property Unless otherwise stated, this resource is released under the terms of the Creative Commons Licence v4.0 Page 3 of 64 12th July 2018 Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus . Within that The Open University interprets this licence in the following way: . Copyright and rights falling outside the terms of the Creative Commons Licence are retained or controlled by The Open University. Please read the full text before using any of the content. We believe the primary barrier to accessing high-quality educational experiences is cost, which is why we aim to publish as much free content as possible under an open licence. If it proves difficult to release content under our preferred Creative Commons licence (e.g. because we can’t afford or gain the clearances or find suitable alternatives), we will still release the materials for free under a personal end-user licence. 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Head of Intellectual Property, The Open University Page 5 of 64 12th July 2018 Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus Designed and edited by The Open University 978 1 47300 014 8 (.kdl) 978 1 47300 109 1 (.epub) Page 6 of 64 12th July 2018 Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus Contents Introduction Learning outcomes 1 Christopher Marlowe 1.1 Marlowe: the man 1.2 Doctor Faustus 1.3 Reading a Renaissance play 2 Reading Doctor Faustus 2.1 Act 1, Scene 1: "Yet art thou still but Faustus, and a man" 2.2 Act 2, Scene 1: Faustus and God 2.3 Acts 3 and 4: What does Faustus achieve? 2.4 Act 5, Scene 2: Faustus's last soliloquy 2.5 Morality play or tragedy? 3 Hero and author Conclusion Keep on learning References Acknowledgements Page 7 of 64 12th July 2018 Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus Introduction This course is on Christopher Marlowe's famous play Doctor Faustus. It considers the play in relation to Marlowe's own reputation as a rule-breaker and outsider and asks whether the play criticises or seeks to arouse audience sympathy for its protagonist, who sells his soul to the devil in exchange for 24 years of power and pleasure. Is this pioneering drama a medieval morality play or a tragedy? This OpenLearn course is an adapted extract from the Open University course AA100 The Arts Past and Present. Page 8 of 64 12th July 2018 Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus Learning outcomes After studying this course, you should be able to: read closely – analyse a passage from the play examine genre – what kind of play is Doctor Faustus? consider themes – what are the main themes or issues explored in the play? read historically – what are some of the connections between Doctor Faustus and the historical period in which it was written? read biographically – what, if any, insights does Doctor Faustus give us into the character and reputation of its author? Page 9 of 64 12th July 2018 Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus 1 Christopher Marlowe 1.1 Marlowe: the man Figure 1 Known as the Corpus Christi portrait, this is thought by some people to be a portrait of Marlowe (Corpus Christi was Marlowe's college at Cambridge), 1585, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. Used with permission of the Master and Fellows of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge In this course I will discuss the question of reputation in relation to a literary text, Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe, which was written sometime between 1588 and 1592 and was first published in 1604 (the A text). We will start by considering the literary reputation of Marlowe (1564–93), who lived and wrote at Page 10 of 64 12th July 2018 Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus the same time as Shakespeare and is probably the most famous of his many gifted fellow writers. We will then look at Doctor Faustus, Marlowe's most well-known play. The main aim being to introduce you to the study of literature at undergraduate level. We will discuss several aspects of the play, and engage in some of the main skills and techniques involved in the analysis and interpretation of literary texts. Let's begin by looking at the life and reputation of the play's author. Marlowe's touch was in my Titus Andronicus, and my Henry VI was a house built on his foundations … I would give all my plays to come for one of his that will never come. These lines come from John Madden's 1998 film Shakespeare in Love. Shakespeare, played by Joseph Fiennes, has just heard that Marlowe has been stabbed to death in a tavern in Deptford and believes, mistakenly, that he is responsible for his death. Stricken with guilt and grief, he acknowledges the immense artistic debt he owes his great contemporary, without whose works he feels he could never have written two of his own early plays. This scene from the film gives us a reasonably accurate picture of the kind of reputation that Marlowe now enjoys as a writer: he is seen both as an important dramatist in his own right, and as a pioneer whose achievements on the stage made possible the considerable accomplishments of his successors, most especially Page 11 of 64 12th July 2018 Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus the plays of Shakespeare. What Shakespeare in Love only hints at in its mention of Marlowe's sticky end is that he is as famous for his life and death as for his works. Marlowe's posthumous literary reputation was heavily influenced by several hostile contemporary accounts of his character and beliefs. His fellow playwright Thomas Kyd accused him of holding a variety of ‘monstrous opinions’, of being ‘intemperate’ and of having ‘a cruel heart’ (Maclure, 1979, pp. 35, 33), though it's important to realise that Kyd made these claims under torture. The spy Richard Baines, who had already informed on Marlowe during the counterfeiting affair, submitted a report to the authorities which portrayed him as a scoffer and heretic who, for example, mocked religion as a tool used by the powerful ‘to keep men in awe’ and said ‘Christ was a bastard and his mother dishonest’ (ibid., p. 37). Baines also accused Marlowe of what we would call homosexuality (the word did not exist in the sixteenth century, though buggery was punishable by death) when he attributed to him the view that ‘all they that love not tobacco and boys were fools’ (ibid., p. 37). The puritan Thomas Beard charged Marlowe with ‘atheism and impiety’, with denying ‘God and his son Christ’ (ibid., p. 41). He also interpreted Marlowe's violent death as God's judgement upon his sins, or as Beard put it rather more colourfully, as the ‘hook the Lord put in the nostrils of this barking dog’ (ibid., p. 42). It's only fair to add that Marlowe was also admired and celebrated as a poet and dramatist during and immediately after his lifetime; for Page 12 of 64 12th July 2018 Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus example, fellow dramatist George Peele called him ‘the Muses' darling’ (ibid., p. 39), while another playwright, Thomas Heywood, writing in 1633, described him as ‘the best of poets in that age’ (Cheney, 2004, p. 3). Given such spectacular biographical material, it's not surprising that Marlowe the man has always been as famous as Marlowe the writer. Moreover, the correlations between the work and the life (both the facts and the gossip) are undeniably striking: all of Marlowe's dramatic protagonists are in some significant sense rule-breakers, who challenge religious, political or sexual orthodoxies, much as he was accused of doing. Two of his most well-known heroes, Tamburlaine and Doctor Faustus, share with their creator their rise from low-class origins to fame and success, while another protagonist, King Edward II, is sexually infatuated with his favourite Piers Gaveston. Marlowe's literary reputation has depended to a considerable extent on how different historical periods have viewed his life and his unconventional protagonists. Those critics in the eighteenth century who had some knowledge of Marlowe were generally scandalised by the biographical accounts that survived and repelled by what they perceived to be the intemperate nature of his protagonists. It was not until the nineteenth century that a more favourable view of Marlowe's artistic accomplishments began to emerge. The establishment of English Studies as a distinct Page 13 of 64 12th July 2018 Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus academic discipline in the second half of the nineteenth century brought with it the construction of a canon of great writers and a history of English literature which accorded Marlowe the crucial groundbreaking role he plays in Shakespeare in Love. Changing views of the artist consolidated his integration into the literary canon. Viewed in the light of the biographies of romantic poets like Shelley (1792–1822), an avowed atheist, and Byron (1788–1824), surrounded through much of his career by sexual scandal, Marlowe's tumultuous life and early death, along with his sensational plays, began to look less like culpable immorality and more like evidence of poetic genius. As the figure of the artist became increasingly associated with rebellion and excess, so the life and work that once disqualified Marlowe from literary celebrity came virtually to guarantee it. 1.2 Doctor Faustus Critics who have studied Marlowe's work have for the most part been inclined to take on trust the picture of him provided by Kyd, Baines, Beard and others, and to read the plays as statements of the author's own radical beliefs. But there is an obvious problem with this approach to Marlowe's work: we simply don't know whether these hostile accounts of his opinions are accurate or, as seems likely, deeply compromised by their writers' own motives and circumstances. Page 14 of 64 12th July 2018 Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus Doctor Faustus is the most famous of Marlowe's plays, and its hero, who sells his soul to the devil in return for twenty-four years of power and pleasure, is by far the best known of his rebellious protagonists. Marlowe based the plot of his play on The History of the Damnable Life and Deserved Death of Doctor John Faustus (1592), an English translation of a German book (now known as the Faustbuch) about an actual historical figure who gained notoriety in early sixteenth-century Germany by dabbling in the occult. This story rapidly became the stuff of legend and, like most legends, it has been subject to numerous retellings, including the two-part play Faust (1808; 1832) by the German writer Goethe, the novel Doctor Faustus (1948) by Thomas Mann, and Peter Cook's and Dudley Moore's 1967 film Bedazzled (remade in 2000), which adapted the legend for comic ends. Why did Marlowe choose to adapt the Faust legend for the stage? Was the free-thinking dramatist, as numerous critics have speculated, attracted to a story about a man who rebelled so flagrantly against the Christian God? One of the interesting questions to ask about Doctor Faustus is whether the play seems to strengthen or undermine the longstanding view of Marlowe as a maverick artist, and we will return to this question at the end of the course. 1.3 Reading a Renaissance play Page 15 of 64 12th July 2018 Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus If you have never read a Renaissance play before – and even if you have – you may well find Doctor Faustus a challenging read. This is chiefly because, like the plays of Shakespeare, Doctor Faustus was written during the historical period known as the Renaissance (or the early modern period), when the vocabulary was significantly different from twenty-first-century English. It is also written largely in blank verse, a term that requires a few words of explanation. Look for a moment at the four opening lines of Doctor Faustus: Not marching now in fields of Trasimene Where Mars did mate the Carthaginians, Nor sporting in the dalliance of love In courts of kings where state is overturned … (Prologue, ll. 1–4) If you count the syllables in these lines, you will find that each one contains ten syllables. If you read the lines aloud, you will hear that for the most part every other syllable carries a particularly marked accent: Not march|ing now | in fields | of Tra|simene Where Mars | did mate | the Car|thagi|nians, Nor sport|ing in | the dal|liance | of love Page 16 of 64 12th July 2018 Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus In courts| of kings| where state| is o|verturned The second line doesn't fit all that comfortably into the overall pattern because it feels a bit awkward giving a strong stress to the last syllable of ‘Carthaginians’. But we can still say that, roughly speaking, each line of verse has five stressed and five unstressed syllables, and that these are arranged in a fairly regular pattern of unstressed/stressed. In poetry this pattern, or metre, is called iambic pentameter, which is generally thought to be the poetic metre that most closely reproduces the cadence of English speech. This is also blank verse because, in addition to being written in iambic pentameter, the lines are unrhymed. Marlowe was known and admired by his contemporaries for the skill with which he used blank verse in his plays. Don't worry if this discussion of metre is new to you: its purpose is just to make you aware that the play's verse has an underlying rhythm. This rhythm is mainly determined by the metre which, as we have just seen, is more regular at some points than others, but it is also affected by punctuation, which can slow the verse down (if there are a lot of stops and pauses) or speed it up (if there are few of these). Everyone has their own way of reading, but I would suggest, especially if this is your first encounter with Renaissance drama, that when reading the play you focus on the story: try to get the gist of what happens, who the main characters are and what they Page 17 of 64 12th July 2018 Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus do. Don't worry if you find this hard going or feel that you do not understand it all. Remember that reading early modern English is challenging, and that in the second part of this course we will be looking more closely at particular parts of the play. If you have not already done so, please read Doctor Faustus now. View document I would suggest that you leave the Doctor Faustus document open on your desktop to gain the maximum benefit from the discussions that folow. Page 18 of 64 12th July 2018 Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus 2 Reading Doctor Faustus 2.1 Act 1, Scene 1: "Yet art thou still but Faustus, and a man" 2.1.1 The morality play Before looking at the play's opening scene I should add a brief note on the medieval morality play, the type of drama on which Marlowe draws in adapting The Damnable Life for the stage. After the Prologue and Faustus's long opening speech, you may have been startled by the appearance of the Good and Evil Angels. Even if you had expected to find supernatural beings in a play about a man who sells his soul to the devil, the Good and Evil Angels may have struck you as strange, perhaps because they are not what we expect characters in literary texts to be like. Their names tell us pretty much everything we need to know about them for, rather than having individualised personalities, they represent abstract moral qualities – in this case, goodness and evil. At this point and throughout the play they are engaged in a struggle for the soul of Faustus, the Good Angel warning him of the danger of arousing ‘God's heavy wrath’ (Act 1, Scene 1, line 74 – displayed as 1.1.74) by practising black magic, the Evil Angel egging him on by reminding him of the power that necromancy will bring him. Page 19 of 64 12th July 2018 Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus This way of creating characters, or characterisation, is typical of morality plays, which are fundamentally religious dramas that enact the conflict between good and evil, each of which is embodied in supernatural figures (like Mephistopheles and Lucifer) or personified abstractions (like the Good and Evil Angels and the Seven Deadly Sins). They are shown fighting for the soul of a central human character who often represents humanity itself, hence the title of one of the best-known morality plays, Everyman. The aim of the morality play was primarily didactic; that is, it sought to teach its audience, and to offer moral and spiritual lessons about how to live a good Christian life. In Doctor Faustus, this didactic element can be seen most clearly in Marlowe's use of a Chorus to present a Prologue and Epilogue that, rather like the Choruses of ancient Greek tragedies, express traditional attitudes and guide the audience's response to the play. (In Greek tragedy the Chorus was a group of people, whereas in Doctor Faustus and Elizabethan drama generally, it is one person.) Yet morality plays also sought to entertain their audiences; they are full of clowning and knockabout comedy, just as in Doctor Faustus. Morality plays were prevalent in England during the late Middle Ages, but were still popular when Marlowe was writing. The fact that he turned to the morality play when he came to dramatise The Damnable Life raises questions about the genre of Doctor Faustus: what kind of play is this? Is it essentially a late sixteenthPage 20 of 64 12th July 2018 Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus century morality play, warning its audience of the dire consequences of practising black magic? Or is its attitude to the story it tells more complicated than this? How does the play encourage us to respond to the central character who sells his soul to the devil? Act...
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