Doctor Faustus has been written by Christopher Marlowe a great user of blank verse of university wits as well as 16th century. He is also known as a dramatist but he wrote only tragedies. He wrote many tragedies such as Tamburlaine, Doctor Faustus, The Jew of Malta, Edward I and no wonder without a shadow of doubt he got much popularity and admiration from the dramatists of the different age. Ben Johnson much praised him and Shakespeare followed him.

Marlowe has been rightly called the morning star of the great Elizabethan drama. He was a gifted poet and was considered to be the father of English tragedy. He belonged to the university wits and contributed a lot to the development of English drama. He used blank verse in his plays and it become a model for the dramatists after him. Shakespeare in his plays used Some of the dramatic skill practiced by Marlowe.

Miracle and morality plays were the attractions in the 14th and 15th centuries before the Elizabethan age. The English drama exhibited the miracle of the saints and very often scenes from the Bible was introduced in the plays. Those plays were known as morality plays. In Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus the characteristic of miracle plays are perceptible. In fact, it is considered to be a morality play. A morality play is a fusion of the individual allegory and the religious drama of the miracle plays. In the morality play characters are personified abstraction of vices and virtues such as good deeds, mercy and anger. The outstanding morality play “Every Man” has characters like good deeds, wealth, death and others. The general theme of the morality play is theological and the main one is the struggle between good and evil power. Man become the bone of contention between good and evil between the seven deadly sins and seven cardinal virtues. The characters are allegorical and the central figure known as mankind remains mostly passive in early morality plays as in The Castle.

Marlowe inherited this motive and effectively used it to suit the alter conditions under which he was writhing. The conflict between good and evil forces is internalized and the inner conflict is symbolized in the good Angel and bad Angel which are allegorical abstractions. Doctor Faustus presents modernized version of the motive at the heart of the morality plays in the following words “Hell strikes with grace for conquest in my breast”.

Doctor Faustus is an extension of the traditional morality drama in which the central figure mankind is very different protagonist from the that which he once was. He does not appear at the beginning of the action as the poor innocent who is totally ignorant of the ways of the world. In the person of Faustus he comes and knows that his knowledge is enough and sufficient. In the pride of his learning and erudition, Doctor Faustus is confident that he can bargain to his own advantage with the devil for the gratification of the world and flesh. With this change in the role of the central figure, the interest has shifted from the internal conflict between the virtues and vices to the conflict in the heart of the hero who is called upon to make his choice between salvation and damnation. And old man appears as a powerful external factor before Dr. Faustus at a very critical juncture and offers him hope for salvation which is still within his reach.

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The chief aim of his morality plays was  didactic. It was the notion that whoever discarded the path of virtues and assured faith in Christ was destined to get disappear and external damnation. In this play, Doctor Faustus, we get the message of the triumph of virtue over sin and damnation. Another significant point is of this play is that the emphasis is either given upon the spiritual or psychological damnation of hell. Not as a locality but as a state of mind created by the action of the man. Faustus may dismiss the idea of the tradition hell as a fiction or old wife’s tale. Yet the hell and he has created is a ceaseless torment amid all the diversions provided to him and no wonder he wins fame and reward by his cunning practices. Marlowe in Doctor Faustus has modernized the old connection of the morality plays.

In fact, Marlowe has successfully blended the open ended structure of morality plays with the irreversible pattern. Faustus like the hero of the morality play remains free to repost and save himself. Mephistopheles is not the traditional devil but quite a sophisticated one. All these factors make Faustus transcend of a conventional morality play and decidedly, Doctor Faustus is a morality play.



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