Conflict and Opposition in the Works: Dr Faustus and Solid Geometry.

1959 Words 8 Pages
When conflict arises in literature it is normally evident both externally and internally. Opposition is an important drive in both Marlowe’s play and McEwan’s short story. The male protagonists are both engaged in an inner life, disregarding everything else without concern for what this might mean. The presence of an external opposing voice in both texts serves to highlight and question this kind of existence. The sheer contrast of protagonist and antagonist is enough to remind the audience how extreme both men’s behaviour is. The path Faustus and the protagonist in Solid Geometry follow is that of intellectual commitment, a solitary path fraught with danger.

The conflicts and oppositions that emerge in both texts are chiefly a result of
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Dr Faustus is perhaps the most famous example of an internal conflict, while Solid Geometry has a more obvious external antagonist in the form of Maisie. When exploring Faustus’ struggle, the imagery of the Good and Bad Angel is extremely helpful, replicated countless times in other literature since the creation of Chaucer’s play, it serves to embody the divided human mind and identity crises of all kinds. Initially, and most clearly, the angels are an extension of Faustus’ own conscience and we can tell a lot about his character from his reaction to the distinct voices. Ruth Lunney in her essay Faustus and the Angels suggests that ‘the words of the Bad Angel echo and confirm Faustus’ aspirations’ (Lunney, 2011: 124). The Bad Angel is most closely aligned to the version of Faustus the audience bears witness to in the performance; the Good Angel instead offers a steady reminder of the consequences these actions will create, and makes the audience believe there is a constant possibility of repentance. Faustus pays greater attention to the Bad Angel recognising that the voice is more suited to his state of mind. The purpose of the Angels is fundamental to an audiences understanding of the character; the audience is influenced by the use of this device, especially when a production presents the angels as separate and external figures on the stage. McEwan’s story doesn’t have such a clear divide of two separate voices, one good and one

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