Dr. Faustus is arguably one of the most complex and popular dramas to emerge from the Elizabethan era. Penned by Christopher Marlowe, this drama has left audiences confused and enthralled throughout the centuries. This is due to all its moral ambiguity as well as dualities. Many scholars question whether the play offers a direct and moral high-ground condemnation of sin or whether it is just a depiction of humanity’s pervasive longing and the pursuit of sensual pleasure and prompt gratification. The truth is that both elements and themes thread throughout the entire dialogue and plot of the play. Where audiences can see different characters engulfed in the dualities of sin and morality.
Understanding the Dualities and Ambiguities
In the play, we see the two Angels who present themselves to Faustus who both attempt to persuade and influence him. One of the Angel calls on him to turn away from sin and repent, while the other beckons him to live his life and face his damnation. This battle between good and evil within the human consciousness seems to be a theme as old as time itself.
The Comedy of It All
However, the dualities don’t just exist within the realm of good vs evil. Into also seeps into the style of the play, which exudes both genres of comedy and tragedy. In one scene Faustus turns towards a practice of the occult, the scene is a foreshadowing of Faustus gaining power in one area but also alludes to his own inflicted downfall.
After the famous opening scene, the audience experiences feelings of eeriness and is aware of impending doom. Audiences are instead introduced to wit and humor in the form of a banter session between Wagner and the two scholars. The scene includes ridiculously witty and funny dialogue that locks up the memory of tragedy in the back of the viewers’ minds.