Christopher Marlowe. in his drama The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus. examines the Renaissance spirit that aims for layman and mercenary cognition. and explores its affinity with thaumaturgy. In our modern epoch layman cognition has lost all its associations with thaumaturgy. and this makes it hard for modern audiences to appreciate the concerns of Marlowe. Magic has been reduced to a quaint and harmless superstitious notion for most. and hence the heretic’s heroic chase of it. or the Church’s terrible disapprobation and suppression of it. either has ceased to do any sense.

The Bible. so most spiritual Bibles. badly proscribes thaumaturgy. and paints it as the most serious menace to civilisation. This contrasts with the modern attitude in which thaumaturgy is merely nonmeaningful chants and excess talismans with no efficaciousness whatsoever. In the original context of the drama thaumaturgy was seen as an active flagellum. and was believed to be a manner to knowledge that shunned the way of God. The connexion between thaumaturgy and secular acquisition is revived throughout the drama.

On several occasions we find Faustus blaming his books for his ruin: “O. would I had ne’er seen Wittenberg. / ne’er read book! ” In his last despairing effort to derive salvation from the clasps of Lucifer he offers to fire his books. In recent times such cognition is called mercenary. and at times condemned as such. However. seldom is such cognition associated with black thaumaturgy. In Marlowe’s clip constructs were radically different. Indeed all the great innovators in the Renaissance of larning knew the nature of the undertaking they undertook.

When Roger Bacon submitted to the Pope his luxuriant design aimed at a cardinal new way in larning – the Opus Majus – he coined the term “white magic” for it. Christian philosophy taught that thaumaturgy was a black art. because immorality. Bacon explained to the Catholic Pope that his new experimental manner to acquisition. if decently guided by the governments. such as the Vatican itself. would non harm. but alternatively better society. Bacon stated purpose was to “better show the lower status and indignity of Magical power to that of Nature or Art” .

Despite Bacon’s optimism. the intuition that the rise of secular cognition was let go ofing into Christian Europe the seven lifelessly wickednesss was slow to melt. When Goethe retold the Faust narrative in the early 19th century he still held that the supporter was doing a treaty with the Satan. but added a important difference to the stoping. where Faust is non capable to ageless damnation after all. In Marlowe’s clip ungodly cognition was obviously a black art. Therefore Doctor Faustus. typifying the Renaissance spirit. does non get away ageless damnation.

The gap monologue of Faustus explains the principle behind charming briefly and strongly. A leading light of larning in Wittenberg. he is ruminating in his survey over his countless accomplishments. and yet finds dissatisfaction over and over once more. He has mastered Aristotle’s logic. but is it merely to win a metaphysical argument. he ponders. He has applied Galen’s medical specialty and saved Wittenberg from the depredations of the pestilence. But to what help. he ponders. if adult male be mortal in the terminal. Justinians’s Institutes of jurisprudence appears now to him a “mercenary drudge” .

In the terminal deity is judged to be above all secular humanistic disciplines. But so the scriptural philosophy of original wickedness confronts Faustus forthrightly. If it is in the nature of adult male to transgress. and by transgressing he meets ageless decease and damnation. so the philosophy of predestination is meaningless. he thinks: “What doctrine call you this. Che sera. sera. What will be. shall be? ” By rebuting faith in the terminal. Faustus is left at the doors of thaumaturgy. It promises wealths. power and rule over universe. and meets precisely the demands of a surging aspiration that is sated with mere larning for learning’s interest. A sound prestidigitator is a superman. ” he expresses.

In this manner Faustus has come to the logical decision of secular cognition. the purpose of which he professes at the beginning. to “level at the terminal of every art” . In the procedure has made clear the nexus between the spirit of the Renaissance and thaumaturgy. This is why the drama is genuinely a calamity. and non simply a morality drama that teaches the rewards of wickedness. After this monologue and Faustus has eventually chosen the way of thaumaturgy. the remainder of the drama is simply a drawn out dramatisation of the inevitable autumn.

The lone staying tenseness is in the head of the supporter. as it vacillates between traveling in front into the land of Lucifer. and turning back with penitence to God. In fact the latter is non an option at all. which Mephistopheles and Lucifer remind him times over. and he finds out on his ain whenever to attempts to atone: “My bosom is harden’d. I can non atone ; / Scarce can I name redemption. religion. or heaven. ” He has sold his psyche to the Satan with a treaty signed in blood. which signifies none other than that he has committed himself to the way of thaumaturgy. He is damned and destined for an infinity in snake pit.

The 24 old ages granted by Lucifer is his Hell. They are expended in exercising of meaningless powers over male monarchs and emperors. and a torturing hesitation between Eden and snake pit. The latter is in fact the lone moral force in the drama after the treaty signed in blood. It is the tenseness of what might hold been and what is. The last gleam of hope for Faustus is when his blood congeals before the treaty is signed with it. meaning that the organic structure is defying that which the head has already yielded to. But Mephistopheles brings in fire to maintain the blood warm and running. and the concluding catastrophe is completed.

A farther moral force in the drama is the realisation of the ultimate futility of thaumaturgy. Faustus has been granted worldly power and glorification. by which he impresses and wins favours of male monarchs and princes. But they turn out to be nonmeaningful to him in the terminal. merely every bit meaningless as his anterior achievements in the Fieldss of metaphysics. medical specialty and jurisprudence. He is rapidly sated with his new found powers. and ends up merely every bit disgruntled as anterior to selling his psyche. He is tortured by stabs of compunction. and begins to believe the glorifications of Eden far superior.

By grades Faustus is made to larn what snake pit truly is. His first daze is to larn that snake pit is non truly an old wives’ narrative after all. In reply to Faustus’ intuition Mephistopheles interjects. “But I am an case to turn out the reverse. / For I tell thee I am damn’d and now in snake pit. ” Faustus wants to larn more about snake pit. The first response he gets that it is under Eden. He urges for lucidity and Mephistopheles responds: Within the bowels of these elements. Where we are tortur’d and remain for of all time: Hell hath no bounds. nor is circumscrib’d

In one self-place ; but where we are is hell. And where snake pit is. there must we of all time be: And. to be short. when all the universe dissolves. And every animal shall be purified. All topographic points shall be snake pit that are non heaven. In this description snake pit is clearly identified with mercenary cognition and chases. “Within the bowels of these elements” is precisely where mercenary cognition is sought. The mercenary universe order is so painted as lasting and apathetic. Against this Mephistopheles points out that the present order will be dissolved and all life psyches purified.

The materialists pig-headedly resist any suggestion that there could be a transcendency beyond empirical universe. But Mephistopheles confirms that there is an “Above” . and after the disintegration and the purification of psyches. all topographic points are hell. except for where the nonnatural psyches reside – i. e. in Eden. By cleaving to the humble elements. through the illusive promise of thaumaturgy. Faustus has so chosen snake pit as his ageless residence. Doctor Faustus is exhaustively imbued with the spirit of the Renaissance. and it is merely his overarching enthusiasm for it that leads to his autumn.

This is why he is a genuinely tragic figure. and the modern-day audience of Marlowe’s clip would surely hold appreciated this fact. Modern audiences will be given non to sympathise with the supporter. but what is even more shocking is that a big portion will be left apathetic. Those of a spiritual disposition will judge that anyone who consorts with the Satan deserves ageless damnation. and will likely neglect to appreciate that Faustus was moved by nil other than a enormous spirit of larning borne of the Renaissance.

The larger portion. on the other manus. does non believe in snake pit at all. and will simply show outrage that so much agony be heaped on one who dabbles in a few appeals. and did no 1 any injury. To appreciate the tragic component of the drama one needs to understand the spirit of the Renaissance. every bit good as have a clear construct of thaumaturgy. Modern audiences are infused with the former. but have discredited the latter as mere superstitious notion.