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A Study Guide of Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe


Elizabethan playwright Christopher Marlowe remains a controversial personality of the Renaissance era. Despite having obtained both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from Cambridge University, Marlowe was anything but a reclusive scholar.

On the contrary, he was enthusiastically engaged in a number of political, religious and scientific debate. He was also an accomplished lyricist, a well-known dramatist, a playboy, accused of atheism and there was some evidence to suggest that he might even have been a spy. Marlowe had been deported from the Netherlands in 1592 for the attempted forgery of gold coins. Marlowe died as a result of injuries sustained in a tavern brawl, his death was later linked to political intrigue.

Marlowe’s plays helped the English theatre to progress and created an environment in which the plays written by Shakespeare flourished. His most significant contributions to Elizabethan theatre are the powerful characters and robust emphasis on individualism as seen in Tamburlaine the Great, Doctor Faustus, The Jew of Malta, and Edward II.

Doctor Faustus is regarded as one of the best dramatic works ever penned by Marlowe. However, this is one of few aspects of the play that scholars are able to agree one. There is still much debate surrounding whether or not Marlowe had help writing the text, or if he wrote it alone. Most modern scholars agree that there is a strong likelihood that he had multiple contributing authors, and that none of the comic acts were written by Marlowe.