Fred Botting expresses “Gothic writing emerges as the thread that defines literature. ” But it is apparent that Marlowe was influenced by many genres. Although Gothic plays were very popular around the time beginning from the 1760’s onwards, with the works of Shakespeare such as ‘Hamlet’, it is clearly viewed that Marlowe has taken inspiration from many genres in the writing of this play. ‘Doctor Faustus’ is not more of a morality play than gothic, it is a mixture of sub genres of morality, gothic and tragedy plays.
Act 2 Scene 3 is a perfect example show evidence of Marlowe’s influences of several different genres. Structure of Act 2 Scene 3 portrays an aspect of morality plays. Marlowe has taken the repetition of the reform and relapse pattern commonly used in morality plays and has used it in this scene. The four point cycle of doubt, persuasion, resolve and gain repeats itself several times in the scene by Faustus. The character of Faustus here links to the ‘everyman’ character in morality plays. The four point structure communicates the weakness of the merciful nature of the human’s state of mind.
Faustus doubts his decision and says that he “will renounce this magic and repent” until we see the persuasions of the good and evil angel come into to distract his mind. The good angel encourages Faustus to “Repent yet, God will pity thee” whereas the evil angel ends with a reminder that “Thou art a sprit, God cannot pity thee”. Marlowe’s use of the good and evil angel could be interpreted a physical representative of Faustus, and the human race, own conscience and on-going battle between right and wrong.
The cycle then goes on the point three of “resolved Faustus shall ne’er repent”; Marlowe use of 3rd person here mirrors the detachment of Faustus’s soul. Finally the cycle ends with a gain when Faustus is able to “dispute again” with “Mephistopheles”. In the four point structure we see Faustus repeatedly make the wrong decision by not being able to “repent”, this is an aspect of tragedy plays as the scene marks ‘tragic fall of the hero’ as Faustus is told by Mephistopheles, “thou art damned” . Marlowe uses a very similar layout of tragedy plays in the structure of “Doctor Faustus”.
Of course there is the main character of Faustus known as the protagonist in tragedy plays. The main antagonist is played by the character of Mephistopheles; he is in opposition with the main character, in this scene we see Mephistopheles threaten Faustus with the words “Remember this! ” Marlowe’s use of the short syntax and exclamation mark is effective as it builds tension in the scene, creating a climax. It can also be argued that there are other characters such as Valdes, Cornelius and Lucifer could be seen as the antagonist. The protagonist regrets his actions and decisions; Faustus tries several times to repent back to God.
As Faustus announces “I will renounce this magic and repent” a number of time, it portrays that he is unsure about his decision, but decides to carry on because of his lust for power. This is called in tragedy plays Hubris, “an excess of ambition, pride, etc. , ultimately causing the transgressor’s ruin”, all of these feature are shown in Faustus as the play goes on. Faustus curiosity with his power with black magic has transgressed into an obsession. In this scene Faustus reaction to black magic is “Oh this feeds my soul! ” Marlowe has used irony here as Faustus has no longer in possession with his soul due to his contract with the devil.
Faustus is continuously showing hamartia in this scene by not repenting as he reassures himself that “My heart is hardened, I cannot repent” Faustus loss of divinity and despair is causing his ‘downfall’ in the terms of a tragedy. In this scene Faustus is being persuaded by a performance of the seven deadly sins, which portrays aspect showing the satanic. Faustus overreaches in the scene as he indulges in the performance and says, “That sight will be as pleasing unto me as was Adam on the first day of his creation”. Marlowe uses ironic inversion to portray Faustus excitement to this performance.
It is also ironic as Adam receives something of substance whereas Faustus is just receiving pleasures of the five senses. Faustus asks “Tell me who made the world”, a question which he know is off limits but yet is attempting to push the boundaries. This is again showing an overreaching characteristic as Faustus is trying to gain access to forbidden knowledge. Jean Calvin believed certain souls preordained by God to salvation some souls condemned to damnation as their lives are predestined. This would mean that Faustus is right to be overreaching and indulging in all he is receiving now as he had been pre destined to be ‘damned’.
Could it be argued that this characteristic has been put in him by God? David Punter says that “one way of looking at the gothic is that it deals with transgression” Faustus transgresses to the side of the devil in this scene where he ‘vows never to look to heaven… name God or to pray to him” to Lucifer. This reaction to Lucifer entering shows how intimidating and overpowering the character is. In some performances the scene has been directed to have Faustus to be seated on a throne next to Lucifer, this interpretation shows Faustus to have fully transgressed to the side of the satanic. Transgression is a key aspect of the Gothic.
As the play ends with Faustus dying and been drag down to hell it contrast to the ending with morality plays where the character is resolve at the end. The gothic is all about breaking the boundaries, and Marlowe has done this with this play, as it is not conventional play and it deals with issues and themes of the devil and divinity which were very much controversial themes to explore for a play to be shown the general public. His play is used to explore and transgress the public to talk about these subjects, there for if the play would had to be put in a category I would agree that it would be placed in the Gothic genre.