Power in "Dr. Faustus," "Twelfth Night" and "Volpone"
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This paper looks at Christopher Marlowe's play "Dr. Faustus" and how it attempts to answer how a human being uses absolute power. The paper goes on to discuss Faustus' arrogance and how poorly human beings use power when blinded by their ego and shows how this is also seen in William Shakespeare's comedy "Twelfth Night." The paper points out differences between these two works, a chief one being that Shakespeare's play is a comedy and not a tragedy, and then compares them to Ben Jonson's play, "Volpone", that like Shakespeare's, shows a moral reckoning at the end. The paper discusses how in Jonson's work, the law punishes those who would use their social power unjustly; in Shakespeare, individuals who abuse power receive social censure, but only Marlowe acknowledges that when someone's reach exceeds his grasp, as in the case of Faustus, the human justice system is seldom capable of fully making the victims of his crimes whole, or of truly punishing the guilty.
From the Paper:"Faustus' actions remind a contemporary reader of the recent revelations of corrupt businesspeople and politicians whom, upon being given tremendous amounts of money and power, use their influence to buy prostitutes and expensive homes, or other items that do not seem worth sacrificing their ethics. Faustus believes that because of his superior intelligence he should be able to cheat death and that it is an outrage that despite his studies he too will have to bend to the doctrine of Che sera, sera. But Faustus' wisdom merely makes him more arrogant and more foolish. When given a final chance at redemption, he instead chooses to kiss a silent, false reproduction of the great classical beauty Helen than turn humbly to God and beg for eternal life. Faustus chooses transient pleasures over what is real, good, and eternal.
"Faustus' arrogance when given ultimate power and his illustration of how poorly human beings use power when blinded by their ego is also seen in William Shakespeare's comedy "Twelfth Night." In this play, the lady Olivia's steward Malvolio is shown to be a nasty, puritanical and priggish man because of the small power he has, despite being a commoner. "He has been yonder i' the sun practising behavior to his own shadow this half hour," says Olivia's maid Maria (II.5). Even before Sir Toby Belch and Sir Andrew play a trick on Malvolio that causes him to think that he might be favored by Olivia's hand in marriage, Malvolio clearly has designs upon the office of Count."
Sample of Sources Used:
- Jonson, Ben. "Volpone." Project Guttenberg. November 8, 2010.http://www.gutenberg.org/files/4039/4039-h/4039-h.htm
- Marlowe, Christopher. "Dr. Faustus." Full Books. November 8, 2010.http://www.fullbooks.com/Dr-Faustus1.html
- Shakespeare, William. "Twelfth Night." MIT Classics. November 8, 2010.http://shakespeare.mit.edu/twelfth_night/index.html
Cite this Comparison Essay:
Power in "Dr. Faustus," "Twelfth Night" and "Volpone" (2013, May 02) Retrieved March 25, 2019, from https://www.academon.com/comparison-essay/power-in-dr-faustus-twelfth-night-and-volpone-153030/
"Power in "Dr. Faustus," "Twelfth Night" and "Volpone"" 02 May 2013. Web. 25 March. 2019. <https://www.academon.com/comparison-essay/power-in-dr-faustus-twelfth-night-and-volpone-153030/>