Doctor Faustus

by: Christopher Marlowe

Medieval versus Renaissance

Quotes Medieval versus Renaissance
What doctrine call you this? Che serà, serà: What will be, shall be! Divinity, adieu! These metaphysics of magicians And negromantic books are heavenly; Lines, circles, letters, characters— Ay these are those that Faustus most desires. O, what a world of profit and delight, Of power, of honor, and omnipotence Is promised to the studious artisan!

Here, Faustus speaks to himself while in his study as he thinks about what he hopes to learn or focus on next. In these lines, Faustus presents the theme of Medieval versus Renaissance as he dismisses religion and moves toward individualism, science, and black magic. During the time period of this play, most people possessed a Medieval focus, looking to God and religion only. However, here Faustus literally says goodbye to divinity and makes a Renaissance decision to seek learning and dark magic to further his individual power and profit.

Learnèd Faustus, To find the secrets of astronomy Graven in the book of Jove’s high firmament, Did mount him up to scale Olympus’ top: Where, sitting in a chariot burning bright Drawn by the strength of yoked dragons’ necks, He views the clouds, the planets, and the stars[.]

Here, the Chorus reveals to the audience how Faustus has spent his time since making his bargain with the devil. These lines describe Faustus’s focus on learning as he studies astronomy and other sciences. This educational tour represents Faustus’s transition from a Medieval focus on god to a Renaissance emphasis on learning and individualism. At the same time, the Chorus describes Faustus sitting in a bright chariot carried by dragons, also symbolizing the dark magic and Renaissance individualism accompanying Faustus on his quest for learning.

Cut is the branch that might have grown full straight And burnèd is Apollo’s laurel bough That someone grew within this learnèd man. Faustus is gone: regard his hellish fall, Whose fiendful fortune may exhort the wise Only to wonder at unlawful things, Whose deepness doth entice such forward wits To practice more than heavenly power permits.

As the Chorus concludes the play, these lines identify a moral lesson being taught through Faustus’s fall from heaven. As the Chorus describes how “learnèd” Faustus fell because he looked to dark magic and evil rather than following God’s way, the theme of Medieval versus Renaissance shines through one more time. However, in this final moral lesson, the Chorus instructs the audience to be wary of the Renaissance movement, using Faustus as an example of what not to do in the search for knowledge and happiness.