Doctor Faustus` Death

Faustus died a death that few could bear to imagine, much less experience. After
knowing for many years when exactly he would die, he reached the stroke of the
hour of his destiny in a cowardly, horrid demeanor. Finally, when the devils
appeared at the stroke of midnight, tearing at his flesh as they draw him into
his eternal torment, he screams for mercy without a soul, not even God Himself,
to help him. However, what to consider Doctor John Faustus from Christopher

Marlow's dramatic masterpiece The Tragical History of the Life and Death of

Doctor Faustus is a very debatable issue. For example, one can see that he threw
his life away for the sake of knowledge, becoming obsessed with the knowledge
that he could possess. In this case, he is unarguably a medieval tragic hero.

However, when considering the fact that he died for the sake of gaining
knowledge, pushing the limits of what is possible in spite of obvious
limitations and, eventually, paying the ultimate penalty, he could be considered
a Renaissance martyr. These two points of view have their obvious differences,
and depending on from what time period one chooses to place this piece of
literature varies the way that the play is viewed. However, the idea of
considering him a martyr has many flaws, several of which are evident when
considering who Faustus was before he turned to necromancy and what he did once
he obtained the powers of the universe. Therefore, inevitably, the audience in
this play should realize that Faustus was a great man who did many great things,
but because of his hubris and his lack of vision, he died the most tragic of
heroes. Christopher Marlowe was borne on February 6, 1564 (Discovering

Christopher Marlowe 2), in Canterbury, England, and baptized at St. George's

Church on the 26th of the same month, exactly two months before William

Shakespeare was baptized at Stratford-upon-Avon (Henderson 275). He was the
eldest son of John Marlowe of the Shoemaker's Guild and Katherine Arthur, a

Dover girl of yeoman stock (Henderson 275). Upon graduating King's School,

Canterbury, he received a six-year scholarship to Cambridge upon the condition
that he studies for the church. He went to Cambridge, but had to be reviewed by
the Privy Council before the university could award him his M.A. degree because
of his supposed abandonment of going to church. He was awarded his degree in

July of 1587 at the age of twenty-three after the Privy Council had convinced

Cambridge authorities that he had "behaved himself orderly and discreetly
whereby he had done Her Majesty good service" (Henderson 276). After this,
he completed his education from Cambridge over a period of six years. During
this time he wrote some plays, including Hero and Leander, along with
translating others, such as Ovid's Amores and Book I of Lucan's Pharsalia
(Henderson 276). During the next five years he lived in London where he wrote
and produced some of his plays and traveled a great deal on government
commissions, something that he had done while trying to earn his M.A. degree. In

1589, however, he was imprisoned for taking part in a street fight in which a
man was killed; later he was discharged with a warning to keep the peace
(Henderson 276). He failed to do so; three years later he was summoned to court
for assaulting two Shoreditch constables, although there is no knowledge on
whether or not he answered these charges (Henderson 276). Later Marlowe was
suspected of being involved in the siege of Roven where troops were sent to
contain some Protestants who were causing unrest in spite of the Catholic

League. Then, after sharing a room with a fellow writer Thomas Kyd, he was
accused by Kyd for having heretical papers which "denied the deity of Jesus

Christ" (Discovering Christopher Marlowe 2). Finally, a certain Richard

Baines accused him of being an atheist. Before he could answer any of these
charges, however, he was violently stabbed above his right eye while in a fight

Ingram Frizer (Discovering Christopher Marlowe 2). Doctor Faustus could be
considered one of Marlowe's masterpieces of drama. It was his turn from
politics, which he established himself in with his plays Edward II and

Tamburlaine the Great, to principalities and power. In it he asks the reader to
analyze what the limits are for human power and knowledge and ponder what would
happen if one man tried to exceed those limits. The play opens up with Faustus,
who is supposedly the most learned man in the world, talking about how he has
mastered every field