Tragedy From Aristotle’s Poetics and Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex to Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus & Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet
Classical Tragedy 5 th c BCE Chorus (15 men) Tragic hero (hamartia, hubris; high station and moral worth) Catastrophe/reversal; unities Loses material things but has epiphany/anagnorisis Catharsis; audiences experience pity & relief
Senecan Tragedy Roman 4 th c BCE-65 Knew in Medieval 5 acts Revenge; bloody No catharsis Fortuna turns wheel to bring high low
Miracle & Mystery Plays (10 th – 14 th centuries) Miracle plays: lives of saints Mystery plays: stories from Old and New Testaments Performed in church as part of holy days Moved outside onto wagons; guilds performed
Morality Plays (15 th c) 1 plot About common people; characters often allegories Dramatized allegories representing a Christian’s life and his quest for salvation Show audience that fortune is unpredictable
Medieval Staging Plays performed in church then moved to courtyard Mobile, no stage Used wagons, move episodes from one location to another Guilds put them on Symbolic props
Renaissance & Restoration Tragedy Hero starts good/turns evil Hero usually important if not ruler Fall from grace marked by reversals and discoveries Audience experiences fear and pity; catharsis Added comic relief and subplots
Traits from Morality Plays in Doctor Faustus Good and Bad Angel 7 Deadly Sins Presence of Lucifer and his cohorts Vision of Hell Chorus (1 person) to open the play Allegory
Origins of Story Johann Faust (1488) bragged he’d sold his soul to the devil for magical powers. Wandered Germany until death in 1541 1587 story about him appeared in Germany: The History of the Damnable Life and Deserved Death of Doctor John Faustus Translation in English 1592 1592 first performance of Doctor Faustus
Influences on Authorship Written between 1588-1592? Perkins, don at Cambridge, preached about witchcraft because of popular interest in discovery and detection of witches; witchcraft is like “desiring to become a god, longing to win reputation, dissatisfaction with inward gifts received such as knowledge, wit, understanding, memory, and suchlike.”
Problems with Authorship Faustus entered official records in 1601 but not as new work. In 1602 at least 2 others paid for work on Faustus First published in 1604 1616 another version printed Today’s version based on work of Sir Walter Gregg
Problems with Authorship, cont. Quality not consistent. Most believe that Marlowe wrote tragic beginning and end; some that he did most of Acts 1, 3 & 5. Collaborators wrote much of comical middle sections.
Renaissance authorship Patrons; sold to printer or bookseller No royalties; no copyright; pay poor Censored by government and church Printing legal only in London, Cambridge & Oxford UP after passed censorship 1579 John Stubbs lost his right hand as penalty for attempting to publish pamphlet against proposed French marriage
Patronage First professional writers; University wits tried to make a living with their writing Who will be offended? Who will pay? Theatrical manager Philip Henslowe’s diary is full of entry after entry about university graduates in prison for debt or eking out a miserable existence writing plays.
Authorship/Ownership 60 % literacy by 1530 Writing passed by hand, copied pieces they liked in their own commonbooks, often no original author given. Plays belonged to acting companies, not the playwright. Text changed with actors and situation; dramatists collaborated/changed. Plays evolved with no printed copy to stabilize the correct text. Ben Jonson first to print play texts--after Marlowe’s death.
Additions to Faust Legend Connections to witchcraft and Perkins’s motivations for witchcraft from sermons Ambivalence of Faustus Thematic elements
Allusions References to literature, art, music, historical events and people Why put Faustus in Wittenberg? What famous medieval person is connected with the university in Wittenberg? Burning chair in Hell; Hungarian peasant rebel Gyorgy Dozsa (1514) Icarus and Daedalus
Landscape with the Fall of Icarus (1560) by Peter Breughel the Elder. Musée Royaux des Beaux Arts de Belgique, Brussels.
Allegory Form of extended metaphor Characters in a narrative have symbolic meaning as well as literal meaning Personification of abstract qualities Example: Everyman is the name of a character in a medieval narrative who goes through the conflicts of the plot, but he also is a symbol for all Christians who struggle through life to find salvation.
Why authors use allegory To teach moral lessons To explain universal truths Marlowe uses these allegorical characters in Faustus: the Good Angel and the Bad Angel. Why? What function do they serve? Are they symbols? Of what? How would they have been presented on stage then? Now?
Another Allegory: The 7 Deadly Sins Pride Covetousness Envy Wrath Gluttony Sloth Lechery Which sins does Faustus commit? Why does Marlowe include the 7 Deadlies? Which characters possess these traits?
Why Faustus abandons learning Philosophy: “…though it has attained that end” (I.i.10). Medicine: “Could’st thou make men to live eternally / Or being dead raise them to life again” (I. i. 22-24). Law: “Too servile and illiberal for me” (I.i.34).
Why give up on religion just as he gets his doctorate in theology? “...we must sin, and so consequently die. / Ay, we must die an everlasting death” (I.i.4043). Syllogism: 2 statements which, if true, make a 3 rd statement true. Example: Socrates is a man; all men are mortal; therefore, Socrates is mortal.
Faustus’s Syllogism He has created a syllogism. Is it logical? “...we must sin, and so consequently die. / Ay, we must die an everlasting death” (1.1.40-43). What is wrong with his thinking? Why is it ironic?
Logical Fallacy? Faustus has taken the quote out of context and ignores the rest of the quote which promises mercy for those sinners willing to repent. The world’s greatest scholar comes to ruin because of faulty research and reasoning; he misreads an important quote from an untrustworthy source.
What to look for as you read Chorus: What functions does it serve? Appears 4 times: to introduce heroic nature of the play, to foreshadow, to provide exposition, and to identify the setting. Irony: Look at Faustus’s arguments and thinking. What logical mistakes does the great scholar make?
What else to look for Allegory Allusions Comic relief; parallel subplots Ideals/beliefs from Reformation, Medieval Period, and Renaissance; Beliefs about witchcraft and the devil Antithesis/contrast
Ask yourself Is Faustus’s fate predestined or does he have free will? What is knowledge? Does Faustus ever find knowledge? What does Faustus really want? Can Faustus be both hero and villain? Bad and good? What evidence can you find in the play?
Sources Barnet, Sylvan, ed. “Introduction.” Doctor Faustus. Christopher Marlowe. New York: Signet Books, 1969. vii-xix. Bevington, David. “General Introduction.” The Complete Works of Shakespeare. New York: HarperCollins, 1992. Rpt. in Doctor Faustus: Divine in Show. Ed. McAlindon, T. Twayne’s Masterworks Studies. New York: Twayne, 1994. 152-170. Duncan-Jones, Katherine. “Devil May Care.” New Statesman 131 (1996): 42-44. McAlindon, T. Doctor Faustus: Divine in Show. Twayne’s Masterworks Studies. New York: Twayne, 994. Gounod, Charles. “Alerte, Alerte! – Sauvée!” Faust. Performed by Chor und Symphonie-Orchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks. New York: Philips Classic Compilation, 1994. “The Sixteenth Century I1485-1603): Introduction.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 6 th ed. Ed. M. H. Abrams. New York: W. W. Norton,1996. 253-273. Stenning, Rodney. “The ‘Burning Chair’ in the B-text of Doctor Faustus.” Notes and Queries 43 (1996): 144-145. Stumpf, Thomas A. “Images and Music.” Freshman Seminar: Visits to Hell. (2001). 29 Sept. 2004. Walton, Brenda. Lessons for Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus. Orlando, FL: Network for Instructional TV, 1998. 12 Oct. 2004..http://www.unc.edu/courses/2001fall/engl/006m/005/thumbnails.html.http://www.teachersfirst.com/lessons/marl.htm