Essay about Dr. Faustus: A Morality Play Without a Moral?

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To answer the question proposed by the title there are two aspects which must be considered. Firstly we must decide whether Dr Faustus is a morality play; I will do this by discussing the play's form, content and subject matter in an attempt to categorise the play. I will also offer an alternative argument by saying that the play is in fact a tragedy. Secondly we must decide whether or not it has a moral; to do this I will consider the tone of certain parts of the play, in particular the Chorus' speeches as well as the speech of other characters.

Let us first deal with the categorisation of the play. To determine if Dr Faustus is a morality play or not we must first know what a morality play is. Morality plays are
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To God? He loves thee not. (II.ii.7-10)

The struggle that Faustus is voicing here is identical to the arguments typical of the Good and Bad Angels. It is significant that immediately after this struggle of conscience the Good and Bad angels enter, as they do when Faustus seems in most trouble or is doubting his decision. This indicates that they are in fact externalisations of Faustus' conscience and therefore not really part of the morality play structure. There is also ambiguity concerning Mephistopheles and the other Devils. Although the lesser devils who appear, such as Banio and Belcher and to a certain extent Lucifer, can be seen as representational, Mephistopheles certainly seems to be more of an individual. We see more of him in comparison with the other Devils because he is Faustus' companion; by consequence we learn something of his character. His speech about the joys of heaven is highly passionate and makes Mephistopheles appear somehow more real,

Think'st thou that I who saw the face of God
And tasted the eternal joys of heaven
Am not tormented with ten thousand hells
In being deprived of everlasting bliss? (I.iii.74-77)

However, as this is the only time Mephistopheles speaks so rapturously about heaven, it would seem these were his true thoughts, yet he manages to control them throughout the rest of the play in order to obtain Faustus' soul. Despite this though even Mephistopheles can be seen as an aspect of the morality play as he

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