Compare and contrast two of the set texts from two different periods "Everyman" and "Doctor Faustus"

Topics: Middle Ages, Black Death, Renaissance Pages: 8 (1075 words) Published: May 7, 2004
Both Everyman and Doctor Faustus are plays. They are written within different time

Periods, with Everyman written in the medieval era and Doctor Faustus written in the


Everyman and Doctor Faustus are both Morality Plays, these are specifically plays that

existed within the Medieval period. They were popular during this period as they were

intended to instruct the audience in the Christian way and attitudes to life. The morality

play is essentially an allegory written in dramatic form. In the fourteenth Century,

morality plays were mainly based on the seven deadly sins as in Everyman with each

character representing each sin. Everyman centers around allegory. It focuses on the

allegorical representations of moral issues with the inclusion of figures that represent

abstractions of the issues that are confronted.

Doctor Faustus follows the general five-act structure of an Elizabethan

Romantic Tragedy. However Christopher Marlowe used the structure of an older

Medieval form of English Drama, the morality play as a model. Morality plays tended to

show the moral struggle of mans soul and the conflict of good and evil. This is evident in

the play of Doctor Faustus who is embroiled in a battle between the temptation of the

devil and God. You could argue that Doctor Faustus is not classed as a

morality play. Because in the tradition of a morality play God and the devil are external

forces that affect the individual. However, in Doctor Faustus it is far more of an internal

drama inside Faustus' own mind. Both are entirely didactic in nature, they were made

with the intent to educate their audience in one respect or another. There was a moral to

each that conveyed similar messages. Therefore the term 'morality play' correctly

defines each one.

The medieval time period in which Everyman was written contained a society that

revolved around religion (Ecclesiasticism) The fact that Everyman can get nowhere

without turning to religion directly reflects on the attitudes of the middle ages. There is

constant references to the beliefs and ideas of the Catholic Church such as confession,

penitence and the Virgin Mary this suggests the catholic centered society in which the

play existed. It concentrates on the qualities of the catholic religion that are

important in the journey to heaven. Everyman is a symbol of the human condition and

how it is understood by medieval Catholicism. Whereas in the sixteenth century in which

Doctor Faustus was written, saw a shift of Christian ideals. No longer was there only the

strict belief in God but also the equal belief in the existence of the devil and the "work of

the devil."

The medieval world placed God at the centre of existence, leaving the individual and the

natural world in second place. The emergence of the Renaissance is evident in Doctor

Faustus by the clash between the church and the introduction of knowledge through

science. The Reformation caused a dramatic change at that particular time, England had

converted from predominantly catholic to a protestant country. This shift becomes

apparent in Doctor Faustus in the scenes with the Pope. The Renaissance was also a time

when the bubonic plague was at its peak of destruction. As a result the plague was a great

concern of the theatre, audiences and writers. The plague was a large part of Marlowe's

life and work. Marlowe refers to the plague regularly in Doctor Faustus with examples

such as "A Plague on her." Here Marlowe is using specific language to reflect certain

aspect of the precise period, being Reformation.

When considering the audience of each play, this can again create disagreement

concerning the meaning of the term 'morality play.' Morality plays, as I have mentioned

like Everyman, primarily express aspects of moral doctrine to the audience. In the Play

Everyman, the anonymous author...

Bibliography: 'Doctor Faustus '-Christopher Marlowe
'Norton Anthology of English Literature '
Oxford Dictionary Online
'LION '- (3/12/03) (5/12/03) (15/12/03) (17/12/03)
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