Magician or witch? Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus /

by Matthews, Michelle M.

Abstract (Summary)
Dr. Simon Morgan-Russell, advisor In this project, I look closely at the play Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe and its relationship to the witchcraft and magic debates that occurred in Early Modern Europe. Europe was alive with witch crazes in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; witches were considered a manifestation of diabolical evil, and accusations of supernatural power being used for the purposes of evil spread quickly as tortured captives, attempting to save themselves, agreed to implicate others as their cohorts. This same period saw a Neoplatonic revival among humanists who believed that by dedicating their lives to contemplation and humility with an overriding faith in God, they could access benevolent magic in order to improve the world. Even though there was a thriving debate among the elite population on what constituted a witch and the powers a witch possessed, humanists who promoted benevolent magic were often accused and condemned for witchcraft, their reputations never recovering. Doctor Faustus is unique in that it presents the dreams of the Neoplatonist philosophers for a benevolent magic at the same time as it portrays the behaviors associated with witches by both the general and elite population. By looking closely at the text and comparing it to orthodox treatises, popular beliefs, and the Neoplatonic writings, I argue in this paper that Faustus turns his back on God by committing sins such as signing a pact with the devil, uniting with a demon, mocking Christianity, and performing maleficium. Ultimately, this paper concludes that because of his heretical actions, which coincide with many of the Early Modern ideas about demonology, Doctor Faustus is a witch and not a magician. iii
Bibliographical Information:


School:Bowling Green State University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:marlowe christopher witches in literature magicians


Date of Publication:

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