Supernatural and Magic

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Freshman (College 1st year) ・English ・MLA

Dr. Faustus and Other Plays by Christopher Marlowe were mainly concerned with the presence and intent of magic and the supernatural in human life. Marlowe uses the character of Dr. Faustus to reflect on the presence and intent of magic and the supernatural by focusing on the Renaissance as a turning point in history. As depicted in the play, magic includes humans using quasi-divine powers and arcane to satisfy their human needs while also creating a line of contact with the supernatural. As a result, the aim of magic is for man to discover a way to attain and ascend to the highest degree of godhood. For instance, in the play, the magical powers gained by Dr. Faustus provide him with an ability to use magical powers and conjure ancient figures that had been buried in the mythological past.

In Act 5, Scene 12, Dr. Faustus can create his fantasy woman Helen in his mind (Marlowe 83-84). Furthermore, magic has a connection with evil and connection with the past spirits making another purpose for the application of magic in the play. After, obtaining his desire of having magical powers, the entire play starts populated by spirits and conjured ancient figures. For instance, Dr. Faustus becomes a spirit, Alexander, and his paramour is spirits, and Helen is a spirit as well. Apart from the spirit application, the magic presence and purpose reflect evil. While at the court to please the emperor, he makes the knight suffer for having horns because he questioned his abilities.

The supernatural is also highly represented in Marlowe's Dr. Faustus play. The supernatural represents the fantastical objects and figures that occur beyond the physical reality in the rational world. In scene 1, while Dr. Faustus waits for Valdes and Cornelius to help him conjure spirits "the Good Angel" and "the Bad Angel" appears to him to provide him with advice based on his desires (Marlowe). The presence of the angels in the scene shows the existence of the supernatural. The representation of the good angel serves the purpose to represent the existence of God while the evil angel represents the presence of Lucifer (the devil). Furthermore, Dr. Faustus resorts to the supernatural to gain magical powers by selling his soul to Lucifer. The indication of the angels, God and Lucifer shows the presence and the role of the supernatural in human's everyday life. While Lucifer and the evil angles serve to promote evil, God and the good angles serve to promote good deed in the lives of human. Furthermore, the concept of the supernatural serves the purpose to explain the conflict and the battle in the human mind while making choices related to doing good or engaging in evil actions. After Dr. Faustus sold his soul to the devil, Dr. Faustus entirely focuses on conjuring past spirits in the form of demons which become disturbing.

The use of magic by Dr. Faustus has both benefits and detriments to his life. Through acquiring magical powers, Dr. Faustus fulfills his ultimate inner soul desires of possessing powers to help the world. In the process, the possession of the powers enables Dr. Faustus to acquire high reputation and recognition in the society through performing magic tricks to the high and mighty including Kings and Emperors. Furthermore, the possession of magical powers gives Dr. Faustus the ability to satisfy his fantasies without problems. For instance, he was able to create his ideal woman in the form of spirit to satisfy his personal feelings. The creation of Helen in the play gives him the ability to serve his heartily desires (Marlowe 84). However, besides gaining the power to satisfy his desires and fantasies in life, the magical powers become quite detrimental to the personality of Faustus as a doctor. Before, becoming a magician, Dr. Faustus was a respected and skilled physician who saves the whole city from a plague based on his scientific knowledge. Additionally, he possessed an excellent knowledge of several subjects including law, medicine, religion and theology, physics, etc. but ends up crowing magic as his top intellectual discipline. Dr. Faustus ends up mocking his intellectual ability by convincing himself that the metaphysics and necromantic books are heavenly (Marlowe 49).

Through focusing on magic, Dr. Faustus personality as a recognized physician and a scholar is reduced to being a magician. Furthermore, he has been reduced from an individual who saved the city from a plague to an individual who performs magic tricks for high profile individuals like Kings and Emperors through summoning past spirits and playing practical jokes on the simple individuals like Knights. Therefore, Dr. Faustus focus on magic and evil leads to his downfall and destruction of reputation in the society. Moreover, through engaging in magic people get to fear Dr. Faustus based on his connection to evil spirits and the devil that is contrary to the expectations of Christian society. Therefore, the friendship range of Dr. Faustus is reduced to the spirits he can summon like Helen and Mephistopheles. An individual who was friendly and a friend of the people are entirely reduced to a few people around his life. In fact, the friendship between him and Mephistopheles cannot be counted since he is only doing his job of watching Dr. Faustus.

Furthermore, the magic and supernatural abilities do not help Dr. Faustus to achieve his desires. The core purpose of Dr. Faustus's desire to obtain magical powers involved his ambitions to apply magic and secure all knowledge, power and wealth can make the impossible become possible and save the society humanity and Germany from the newly acquired skills. His high ambitions, however, were reduced to diabolical skills through an application on pointless and meaningless tricks such as growing horns on Benvolio's forehead, punching the pope and wrecking a banquet. After obtaining the magical powers, instead of focusing on using the powers for a noble cause as he desired, Dr. Faustus entirely uses the powers in trying to impress other people. For instance, when the emperor summons Dr. Faustus, he does not take the opportunity to instruct or advice the emperor but simply takes the time to entertain the emperor. Furthermore, the ambitious intentions are replaced by engagement in evil deeds and selling of his soul to the devil. In the end, Dr. Faustus regrets his choices and feels he deserves to suffer eternal damnation based on his disrespect for God. The ending of the play shows the complete destruction of his ambitions and desires without a second chance for redemption.

Work cited

Marlowe, Christopher. Doctor Faustus and other plays. Oxford University Press, USA, 2008: 49-84

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