Faust and Gorboduc

Faust and Gorboduc

The English drama of the 16th century showed from the beginning that it would not be bound by classical rules. However, we could say that it borrows features from the early dramatic forms adding others, fitting more with the Renaissance way of thinking. These early dramatic forms could be the mystery, miracle, and morality plays and they focused on the religious and moral themes that dominated the Christian imagination during the Middle Ages. The morality play, usually, called a 'morality', presented religious and ethical concerns from the point of view of the individual Christian, whose main concern was the salvation of his soul. However, by the 16th century, morality plays were not only religious -- they also gathered social and political analysis and satire. Therefore, Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus has elements of both Christian morality and classical tragedy but also includes very recent concerns as the craving for knowledge and discovery.

Besides, Gorboduc, written by Thomas Norton and Thomas Sackville and first performed in 1561, adhered to an old form of tragedy: the Senecan tragedy but it also modifies that tradition to express concepts of Tudor political theory. The Senecan tragedy was rediscovered by Italian humanists in the mid-16th century, at the origin, the Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca wrote nine closets plays in blank verse. They became the models for the revival of tragedy on the Renaissance stage.

On the one hand, Doctor Faustus takes place in an explicitly Christian cosmos. Indeed, the Bad and Good Angels appear the devil tempting people into sin and the angel urging them to remain true to God. This resembles to the well known morality play: The Castle of Perseverance (1425). But the devil here, the devil seems far more convincing than the good one. Thus, at the end of the play, Faustus does not repent and so, he is damned.

Whereas, in the medieval morality plays like Everyman and Mankind or...

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