The themes of mankind's redemption from sin and his place in the afterlife are of central importance to the Middle English play Everyman and the Renaissance play Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe. Both Everyman and Doctor Faustus concentrate on the redemption of mankind, but because of the different periods in which the two pieces were written, they differ in style. And the difference in style determines each main character's respective salvation or condemnation. This essay will argue that the character Everyman is redeemed in accordance with the type of stories written in the Middle English period—stories that focused on God and the values possessed by God and a Christian audience. And by contrast, this essay will argue that the character Doctor Faustus is damned in accordance with the type of stories written in the Renaissance period—stories that shifted focus from God to the individual as values shifted in the same manner.
[...] The fact that the play Everyman begins with God indicating how Everyman should proceed in life and concludes with Everyman dying with faith in accordance with God's wishes suggests a literature whose focus and style was to emphasize the kind of life each Christian should live. Everyman is first born into the play shrouded in sin, just as many Christians believe humans are born sinful creatures. Everyman then follows God's word and attempts to live a good life in order to be redeemed, just as Christianity's teachings urge. [...]
[...] This implies that the writer of Everyman was concerned with Christians as a whole that were enveloped in sin and neglectful of God, and that guidance toward God in the form of a play was necessary. In contrast, Marlowe is concerned with Christians who have consciously turned away from God and instead have based their ontological beliefs in science and knowledge. As Doctor Faustus states, sound magician is a mighty god / Here Faustus, try thy brains to gain a deity” (Doctor Faustus 62–63). [...]
[...] However, Doctor Faustus again turns back to his evil ways upon the entrance of Lucifer, Belzebub, and Mephastophilis and their presentation of the Seven Deadly Sins. This scene represents the idea that, although Doctor Faustus briefly wishes to repent (as noted above), he soon turns back to sin and evil practices and is again damnable. This idea supports the argument that Doctor Faustus is unable to oppose temptation because he begins in the play spiritually alone. God greatly influences Everyman's course of action during the play, and God is concerned for Everyman and his fate. [...]
[...] And that point supports the argument that in Faustus there is no sense of a God who guides mankind—while in Everyman there is a God who oversees and aids Everyman in his fate—and Faustus' audience is shown that in Doctor Faustus' contemplations he knows right (the Good Angel) from wrong (the Evil Angel) yet chooses to side with wrong. Doctor Faustus is ultimately influenced by the evil side of his conscience because as a prideful, individual person, he makes independent decisions in his life. [...]
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