Doctor Faustus, The Aristotelian Hero Essay, Research Paper
Heroes envelop the idea of a noble person who fights for the rights of the ?little? people. He or she commits a deed that goes above and beyond the call. This type of hero exists in the modern thought, but there also exists another hero, an Aristotelian Hero. This tragic hero starts out in the nobility of society, yet he just like any other man. This hero has but one fault and that fault, hamartia, is a fatal error or flaw that in the end causes the downfall of the hero. This downfall leads to a catharsis that causes pity and terror in the audience. Doctor Faustus resembles most of Aristotle?s idea of a hero. He was man like the rest of us in that he was a regular man who was able to rise of a man of high estate. Still, he had a hamartia and that caused his downfall. Faustus does not have the complete requirements of being a hero because he does not come full circle in his ordeal. A tragic hero becomes enlightened at the end of the story, yet Faustus does not. Faustus resembles a tragic hero in that is a regular man and has high intentions, he exemplifies hamartia, yet he does not have all the requirements to make him a full tragic hero. Doctor Faustus, in trying to go beyond his current state of knowledge, has high intentions. Faustus is a regular man who raised himself from the bottom of society to a high position in society. ?Now is he born of parents base of stock?(prologue, 11). He wants to increase in wisdom and knowledge so that he may better himself in this world. He wants knowledge and power because he has learned all that a man of that time could learn. He has four degrees, yet he wants more. He throws down the books of Aristotle. ?…And live and die in Aristotle?s works./ Sweet Analytics, ?tis thou hast ravished me?(I, i, 5-6). Faustus believes that there is nothing he can do more on this earth. He wonders why certain things happen and why with all the degrees he has that he cannot solve everything. “Whereby whole cities have escaped the plague/ And thousand desperate maladies been cured?/ Yet art thou still Faustus and a man?(I, i, 19-21). Faustus also wonders if all this is all there is to life. ?Ay, we must die an everlasting death?(I, i, 44). Faustus is but a regular man who wants by any means to increase his knowledge and power of this world and the next. Faustus lives up to his tragic hero model when it is revealed that he has a hamartia, a flaw that will cause his downfall. Faustus seems to have a strong will, a will that forces him to go towards what is right. Still, there is a part of him that wants more. This part makes him realize that there is no more on this earth that he can do. He must turn to necromancy and thing otherworldly to gain more power and knowledge. ?These metaphysics of magicians/ And negromantic books are heavenly;/ Lines, circles, letters, characters–/ Ay, these are those that Faustus most desires?(I, i, 47-50). Faustus realizes that he must conjure up the spirits of Black Magic to help him reach a higher level of understanding. Upon conjuring the appropriate spirits Mephostophilis, a devil, comes to Faustus to strike a deal with him so that Lucifer, prince of darkness, may have his soul. After much persuading Faustus hands over his soul to Lucifer to live in a life of luxury and to do what ever he wants to do. ?Consummatum est! This bill is ended:/ And Faustus hath bequeathed his soul to Lucifer?(II, i, 75-76). His flaw was that he gave over his soul, his own immortality, for a mortal life of only twenty-four years. His intentions to increase his knowledge and power fall to the power of material wealth. After having the Seven Deadly Sins paraded in front of him, he realizes just what he could have on earth. ?Wealth!/ Why, the signory of Emden shall be mine!?(II, i, 23-24). Faustus shows his true side. He vanity gets the best of him and instead of knowledge he wants all things worldly. Faustus almost completes the set criteria for being a true tragic hero, yet he does not come full circle to become enlightened. Faustus, after twenty-four luxurious years on earth realizes that his time is up in this life. He knows that he has signed over his soul to Lucifer for an eternity of damnation and there is only one way to get it back. He must ask God for forgiveness and since God forgives all he will be returned to the world of the just. Still, he cannot say the words ?I am sorry? and receive God?s forgiveness. ?Stand still, you ever-moving spheres of Heaven/ That time may cease and midnight never come?(V, ii, 143-144). Instead of asking for redemption, he wants time to stop do that he may have more time on earth. He knows this will never happen, but he says it anyway. He believes that there is only one thing that can save him. ?See, see where Christ?s blood streams in the firmament!/ One drop of blood will save me. O my Christ!?(V, ii, 153-154). Christ is the only one who can save him now, yet he does not ask for mercy. In the last seconds of his life he almost comes to ask for redemption. ?My God, my God! Look not so fierce on me!?(V, ii, 194). Faustus is almost a true tragic hero up to this point. He wants to be forgiven, but without asking it. He is not forgiven, so therefor he is not enlightened and does not become a true tragic hero. Faustus resembles a regular man of good intentions, but he comes with a flaw that will cause his downfall into becoming a tragic hero, yet he does not complete all the criteria for being a tragic hero because he does not become enlightened. Faustus wants to be forgiven, but does not ask for it so he is not. He does not achieve the title of an Aristotelian hero because he does not realize enlightenment at the end of the story. Faustus has a fault and that fault is that he is too concerned with all that is worldly. Faustus is vain and he shows this when he receives all his powers. At the beginning Faustus is just a regular man, who went beyond all expectations to achieve his four degrees and his social standing. Faustus is almost an Aristotelian hero for he had most of the traits, yet he does not ask for forgiveness and therefore is not enlightened. This is his greatest mistake.