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Essay about The Deeper Meaning of Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus

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The Deeper Meaning of Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus

I do not agree with the frequently repeated comment that Doctor Faustus is an anti-intellectualist play that preaches that curiosity is dangerous. It is all too easy to see Faustus as the scholar, seeking knowledge, and his desire for knowledge that leads to his downfall. To confine the play to something so narrow is to ignore the deeper meaning behind the play. I believe that this deeper meaning is more important than the superficial idea that curiosity is wrong. I believe that the deeper meaning behind the play is the idea that in loosing sight of the spiritual level of existence, we loos sight of God. In doing so, we can no longer see God's mercy and love, and so ignore
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It has been said that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely - this is what has happened to Faustus. He ceases to be the seeker of knowledge, but becomes a seeker of pleasure. One of the first things he wants is a wife:

... but leaving

off this, let me have a wife, the fairest maid in Germany, for I

am wanton and lascivious, and cannot live without a wife.

Scene 5, lines 139-141

This marks the descent of Faustus from the intellectual seeking pleasures of the mind, to the hedonist seeking more sensual pleasures. It is not for being intellectual that we start to dislike Faustus, but for the numerous foolish and irrelevant displays of his power that he undertakes, and eventually his pride.

This is exemplified by the sharp contrast between Faustus' intentions at the beginning of the play, and the deeds he performs during the play:

I'll have them read me strange philosophy,

And tell the secrets of all foreign kings.

Scene 1, lines 86-8

Instead of doing things like this, he squanders his power. It is his decision to indulge in, as Bentham was later to call them, lower pleasures that illustrates the falsity of the claim that Doctor Faustus is anti-intellectual. If this play were meant to be anti-intellectualist, then the scenes toward the middle of the play that involve Faustus attacking the pope, or summoning Alexander
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