Stage action as metaphor in Marlowe's Doctor Faustus

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Jones, Louise
Schumacher, Paul J.
Issue Date
Thesis (Ph. D.)
Department of English
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The purpose of the study is to establish the critical need for stage action in order to understand fully the theme of Marlowe's Doctor Faustus. Marlowe's primary intent is to invert the morality play, illustrating the distortions and ambiguities of a systematized religion and to establish the human dilemma when man is faced with moral choices. To illustrate this inversion, Marlowe uses emblematic action for an effect opposite to that of the traditional moralities: Often this action goes beyond the emblem, becoming a metaphor for Marlowe's theme, man as a victim, conflicting within himself and within the system which governs his morality.Chapter one introduces this theme and the crucial need for staging Marlowe's ideas. The first chapter also establishes a compromise of the textual problems inherent within any study of Doctor Faustus. Since the study argues that audience reaction is important to Marlowe's intent, attention is paid to how audience response governs the play's interpretation.Chapter two is a critical review of the historical staging practices which must be considered when studying the dramatic text. Included are stage size, costuming, and special effects.Chapter three is the advancement of the thesis in a scene by scene analysis of the text with special attention to the action as metaphor. Considered is how audience reaction represents part of Marlowe's purpose; the increasing tension of the audience furthers Marlowe's concept of the ambiguities present when humans are faced with moral choices. This purpose is traced scene by scene with specific attention to how it is metaphorically portrayed on stage.Chapter four is separate as a director's book, with the text reproduced, together with the researcher's marginal notes on specific blocking and with footnotes emplacing and expanding on the metaphorical action as it appears in the text.