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Spiritual Conflict in Dr Faustus

Marlowe contributed greatly to English literature. His works are excellent on their own. He revitalized the concept of the tragedy. His work dwells upon the spirit of the Elizabethan age. His subject matters are demonstrative of this age that was reeling between zeal and zest of the Renaissance and corrective measures of the Reformation. The Age of Faith was gone and a new spirit of learning and knowledge swept over Europe marking its way in every nook and corner of life. It relegated church and Heavenly blessing to the background while earthly pursuits urged man to attain more and more power and pelf. Marlowe saw English society torn between contrary ideals. Emerging worldliness, nationalism and knowledge shock the very pillars of the Orthodox Church. These sweeping changes were bound to produce tussle between divergent ambitions. Marlowe, a typical product of the Renaissance, dramatized these conflicts. When Marlowe unfurled the banner of his literary career, English drama was in chaotic form. It scanted fire and form. The popular Morality play excluded human passion. It presented personifications of human nature. To Marlowe goes the credit of introducing successful Romantic tragedy. He brings human passion as well as the trends of his age in the dramatic art. In fact, his dramas are dissection of human soul where spiritual conflict goes side by side external action. This conflict is not between man and man for the domination of one character over another. It is also not like Greek tragedies where supernatural powers surround man. In Marlowe, the scene of drama does not mostly take place on the earth; it is enacted in the limitless regions of mind.

The battle is fought not for kingdoms or crowns, but upon the question of mans ultimate fate. He lays bare inner conflict and fuses it with towering ambitions of his heroes. According to a critic, Dr. Faustus is a dramatic combat of human soul. When the play starts, Dr Faustus is a divine scholar but he is not satisfied with his achievement because he finds divine in shew. He is proud of his great intellect, he says, some greater subject fits to Faustus wit.His first soliloquy reflects his pursuit for ultimate power and knowledge that was the spirit of the age. He rejects philosophy, medicine, law and he finds divinity the basest of the three. Then the claims, hese necromantic books are heavenly. In this way, he tries to fly high on his waxen wings which are bound to melt resulting in his heavy fall. He opts for necromancy because he wants to enjoy the world of profit and delight. He does not want to become merely a man. He pays heed to what Evil Angel assures him, Be thou on earth as Jove is in the sky. But subsequently, he undergoes severe conflict. Being a divine scholar, he knows that magic is a heinous sin. Therefore, he consoles himself by saying that the reward of sin is death. It will be everlasting death. There will be no punishment after death and the Hell is a fable, mere old wives tale. Good Angel keeps on coming to tell he to abjure the magic and turn to God again. He should not study the blasphemic book otherwise he will invite heavy wrath of

God. But Faustus pay heed to the happy tidings of the Evil Angel who tells him and religion is merely the fruit of lunacy and only mad men believer it the most. The appearance of the angels represents the fiery spirit of the Renaissance and ethics of the Reformation. Dr. Faustus chooses necromancy to materialize his inordinate ambitions. He conjures up a powerful spirit Mephistopheles. He tells him that he wants to join the tribe of hell as the word damnation does not scare him. However, ensuing period sees him gnawed by inner conflict. At times, he feels that he should go back to God and shun the magic. Sometimes he feels that now God will not pardon him. His mental condition reminds us the enigma of Hamlet, who is in a fix, To be or not to be that is the question. When Faustus waits for Mephistopheles in his studies, he undergoes severe mental conflict. He finds himself lacerated with sense of sin against theology. He is not utterly damned as yet. His conscience is not dead. His moral sense pricks him and he hears something sounds in his ears, Abjure thins magic, turn to God again. But he asserts despair in God and trust in Beelzebub. He vows to do away with vain fancies and despair and maintain his trust in the devil. Here Faustus looks like Machiavellian model. He rejects the authority of Heavenly Power and opts for earthly ambition. He wants to go back to God, but then Renaissance spirit dominates and he declares

The god thou serverst is thine own appetite Wherein is fixth the love of Beelzebub, Now the admonition of the Good Angel sounds trivial when he says that Faustus should repent and prove himself worthy of Gods mercy. The Evil Angel says that prayer, repentance, remorse and contrition are fruit of lunacy. Only mad men believe in them. He should not harbour such vain feeling in his heart. When Faustus decides to write the deed of gift with his own blood and he stabs his arm, his blood congeals. He thinks that his blood doesnt want him to write any agreement with devil. He is not ready to learn any reason from it. He resolve is too strong for such indications. He says why he cant do so, Why shouldst thou not? Is not thy soul thine own? It was newly emerged secular belief that man is the master of his own fate. He is not subjugated by any external authority. He can follow any why he wills. He can be what he pleases. Suddenly, he sees a mysterious inscription homo fuge on his arm. These words seem to suggest him to flee the trap of the devil. It is, of course, is agitated brain who is feeling great strain while making an unholy contact with the enemy of God. It reminds us the famous dagger scene in Macbeth. Just before the murder of King Duncan, he sees a bloody dagger swimming before his eyes. Faustus is bracing with the analogous psychological strain. Faustus, being the representative of the age, puts brushes aside such an idea. He is committed to surrender his soul the Lucifer. After making an agreement with the devil, he is still impatient. When he looks at the heaven, he repents and

curses wicked Mephistopheles who has deprived him the joy of everlasting bliss. Mephistopheles tells him that he should not be worried about Heaven because man is more important than heaven. It is made for man. Faustus says that if it is made for man, it is made for him, so he is going to repent. He calls holy Christ for help but then Lucifer makes his appearance and dissuades Faustus from repentance. The Old man comes to tell him that he has the last chance of repentance. Faustus feels intensity of tension as Hell strives with Grace in his breast. But Helens embracing and sweet kiss sink him low and, instead of God, he calls the beautiful dame of Greece, Come Helen; make me immortal with a kiss. The last soliloquy of Faustus has few parallels in English literature on account of intensity of passion and looming fear of death. He knows that barely one hour of his life is left and then he will be utterly damned. He tries vainly to avoid that incessant pain. He wants to lose in the foggy mist or like a drop of water lost in the sea, never to be found. He curses himself, his parents, Lucifer and then he is gone. We can see that the play scant external conflict. No power tries to hinder Faustus on his way to devil. The play has no villain. Faustus is the hero as well as the villain. He himself undergoes dramatic tension. It is different Classical Tragedy where dramatic tension was chiefly external. Oedipus, the king, has conflict with the blind seer, Creon, Fate, and external circumstances. Sophocles never tells us what the feelings of his heart are. There is no soliloquy, no aside, no view of inner working of Oedipus mind. But here Marlowe

lays bare the soul of man and shows us the nature of his suffering. It is the greatest achievement of Marlowe in dramatic genre. Modern psychological novel owes much to Marlowe.