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Doctor Faustus as a Renaissance Play
Among the various definitions of tragedy, the one most commonly proffered is: a play that treats - at the most uncompromising level - human suffering, or pathos, with death being the usual conclusion. According to Aristotle's Poetics, the purpose of tragedy is to show how humans are at the mercy of fate, and to cleanse the audience by provoking extreme emotions of pity and terror. The tragic actions on the dramatic stage cause the audience to experience these extreme feelings that eventually causes a catharsis or release of these emotions, to reduce these passions to a healthy, balanced proportion. However, the application of this definition to Renaissance tragedy is limited as it makes two over-reaching assumptions about the play, its protagonists and the audience. First, that the death of all protagonists contributing towards the drama is tragic to an equal degree, which prompts an equal level of catharsis in the audience. Does the self-purchased death of one simultaneously learned and overly ambitious Faustus solicit the same amount of catharsis and empathy as do the 'unnecessary' deaths of Cordelia, Gloucester, Lear, the Duke of Castile, Horatio, and Isabel among a host of other innocent characters whose corpses Remember me.
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Topics: Renaissance , Tragedy. Renaissance, as we know, was a widespread cultural and educational movement in history during which the old conventions of medieval age were dissolved followed by liberation in all arenas of life and culture. It was marked by the increased quest for power, learning, knowledge; Worldliness, materialism; and love and hankering for sensual pleasures, beauty etc. We see in the play that Doctor Faustus is not satisfied with the classical knowledge, he yearns for more. His proud declarations, supreme thirst for more knowledge and power, inclination towards worldly pleasures lead towards his tragic end. In his last soliloquy, Faustus blames his divine knowledge for his downfall and even wishes to burn his books.