Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe

How Doctor Faustus is a Morality Play in Literature?

5 Mins read

Doctor Faustus is a morality play, and the play has a moral lesson within it. The moral lesson in Doctor Faustus is “the wages of sin are death.” Doctor Faustus is about the protagonist, named Doctor Faustus, who sells his soul for earthly power and pleasure. The character of Doctor Faustus expresses how one should not sell their soul for worldly pleasures. In the end, Faustus is left with nothing and wishes he had never sold his soul. One of the main themes of Doctor Faustus is that even when you are achieving your goals, having others to keep you grounded is important.

What is a morality play?

The morality play is the form of the play flourished in the fifteenth century. Its general themes revolved around the struggle between good and evil for the salvation of the human spirit. The style of moral play was usually metaphorical or allegorical, the actors embody the qualities of some personalities such as virtue, vice, riches, poverty, knowledge, ignorance, beauty and the seven deadly sins.

A morality play is a story that involves either a protagonist or antagonist who is given the chance to change their ways through some type of conflict. The protagonist takes the bait, working against his own interests, and in doing so falls into sin. Doctor Faustus is an example of this because it follows a man named Faustus as he sells his soul to the devil for knowledge and power.

A morality play is a form of religious theater that illustrates biblical teachings. The message typically includes good and immoral behavior, consequences, and rewards.

How can the play Doctor Faustus be considered a morality play?

Doctor Faustus is a morality play because it portrays the consequences of selling your soul to the devil. It is also a morality play because Faustus makes a deal with the devil to satisfy his desires and live a life of luxury. Faustus starts off as a successful scholar, but after he sells his soul, he becomes miserable. He is constantly surrounded by demons that are constantly trying to get him to give up his soul so they can claim it.

Doctor Faustus is considered a morality play because it portrays how the pursuit of desire without religious conviction can lead one astray.

Doctor Faustus is a morality play because of its moral message that teaches the audience not to make deals with the devil. It also encompasses the idea that sinfulness comes with consequences, and anyone who makes a deal with the devil will be punished for their actions.

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In Dr. Faustus, Marlowe uses the structure of the morality play intensively, most noticeably in the characters he uses as many of them are representations of type rather than being individuals. For example, the characters of Valdes and Cornelius are known as ‘the tempters’, thus fitting the morality definition as the characters who tempt the main character into sin (although they are not alone in this). The Good and Bad Angels can also be seen as morality play characters, although this depends on whether we see them as real characters from another world or as externalizations of Faustus’ own thoughts and conscience. There is nothing in the text which precisely determines which view is correct.

Marlow is a martyr to everything that the Renaissance valued- power, curious knowledge, enterprise, wealth, and beauty. The Evil Angel urges Faustus to think of honor and of wealth. All such qualities we find in Faustus when he was making a comparison among medicine, law, philosophy, and logic. He found all these branches of knowledge fruitless. Finally, he said,

“When all is done, divinity is best”

The good side of his soul emphasized him to learn the knowledge related to God, related to eternity. The bad side of his soul did not let him to go with divinity. Then Faustus compared religious scriptures as “vain trifles” and finally decided to learn necromancy.

Mephistopheles can be seen as an aspect of the morality play as he tempts the protagonist into sin and subsequent damnation. Mephistopheles can be used as further evidence of the morality aspects in Dr. Faustus as it shows that Faustus was a man led into damnation, in fitting with the tradition of the morality plot.

The general theme of morality play is the struggle of forces of good and evil of the soul of man, and the aim is to teach doctrines and ethics of Christianity. In this sense Doctor Faustus is a morality play to a very great extent. We see Faustus abjuring the scriptures, The Trinity and Christ. He surrenders his soul to Lucifer for “four and twenty years” out of his ambition to gain super-human power by mastering the unholy art of magic:

“Divinity adieu!

These metaphysics of magicians,

And necromantic books are heavenly.”

Why are some people opposed to the idea of Doctor Faustus being a morality play?

A morality play is a type of drama that conveys a religious message or moral lesson. The Bible provides the historical background for morality plays, so it is not surprising that even though most people do not know it as a genre, Doctor Faustus has at least some qualities of one. It has been argued that Doctor Faustus was never intended to be a morality play, because of its themes and literary devices such as irony. This argument is based on the idea that this genre is based on biblical themes and should be focused on the moral lessons they offer.

Some people are opposed to the idea of Doctor Faustus being a morality play because they feel that it is too like other tales of the genre. But, unlike these other plays, Doctor Faustus is written as a tragedy in which good and evil are not clearly defined. Therefore, there may be more than one interpretation of what happens in the story.

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Many people are opposed to the idea that Doctor Faustus is a morality play because it does not follow the strict outline most morality plays follow. For example, Doctor Faustus does not repent at the end of his story. It also does not include a final speech or lessons learned by the protagonist.

Some people may argue that Doctor Faustus is not a morality play because it has a lot of religious content. Others may say that the theme of Doctor Faustus is more about the evils of greed and ambition than it is about religion.


“Doctor Faustus” is a morality play in literature. This play does not have a clear-cut distinction between good and evil because the protagonist is both good and evil at different points in the story. Doctor Faustus has a mixed sense of morality which is made clear through his actions throughout the book.

Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus is a morality play, which means that it is full of conflict and struggle between both good and evil. The protagonist, Doctor Faustus, is the embodiment of both the good and bad qualities that exist in all people. At first, he is an intelligent man who studies magic and learns how to conjure up demons. Eventually, he becomes so obsessed with power that he falls into deep sin and sells his soul to the devil. In the end, Doctor Faustus’ intelligence destroys him as he realizes what a fool, he has been for all these years.

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