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Doctor Faustus and Renaissance Humanism

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documents in English
school essay
4 pages
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  1. Introduction
  2. The most extreme possible act of humanism
    1. Faustus' signing away his afterlife in exchange for access to superhuman powers
    2. His graduation to the necromantic arts
  3. Mocking the false sense of self importance
    1. The most effective vehicle for satire
    2. Faustus' failure to affect the world in any significant way
  4. Faustus' constant air of skepticism
  5. Faustus' relationship to limits
  6. Conclusion: Squandering the price of his soul
  7. Works cited

The introduction to Christopher Marlowe's The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus in The Norton Anthology of English Literature describes the play's protagonist as ?an overreacher, striving to get beyond the conventional boundaries established to contain the human will? (990). While not grossly inaccurate, this description gives unwarranted grandeur to the hero's downfall. It is partly this same false grandeur that characterizes Doctor Faustus' misguided notions of Renaissance Humanism ? a belief in the ability of humans to transcend traditional earthly limitations through the pursuit of a broad base of knowledge.

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