Sunday, 26 April 2015

Modernism and Postmodernism

Modernism and Postmodernism:

Modernism: Modernism refers to the new styles and trends in European literature, art and culture in the early decades of twentieth century, especially after world war-I. It emerged showing distrust of the values of Enlightenment and rationalism which were at the centre of European civilization   since Renaissance and found man isolated, alienated, and irrational in an empty and meaningless universe. To express the fragmented, isolated, irrational and absurd nature of life and experience, literature became fragmented, dislocated and self-reflexive, departing from the standard ways of representing characters and violating the traditional syntax and coherence of narrative language by the use of stream of consciousness and other innovative modes of narration.

Postmodernism: The term refers to new trends in literature and culture in the western countries after world war-II. It developed both as a continuation of and reaction against Modernism. It breaks out of the elitist image of High Modernism and creates a centreless, depthless, non-hierarchical, non-stable and hybrid world where different cultures and their codes intersect with each other making a kind of carnival. In literature, its parallel movements like Poststructuralism and its associated theories like Reader-response theory, New Historicism, Cultural Materialism, Feminism reject all sorts of authority, hierarchy  and centrality and speak of the importance of marginal and heterogeneity.

Difference between Modernism and Postmodernism: Firstly, Modernism is a search for a new centre by various modernist writers and artists after the destruction of the values of Enlightenment and rationalism which were at the centre of western thought. The Postmodernist writers, on the other hand, like to stay in a centreless and non-hierarchical world.
                Secondly, Modernism led to create an elitist image of literature and made a clear distinction between high and low culture. But Postmodernism broke out of the elitist image of Modernism and erased the distinction between high culture and low culture.
                Thirdly, Modernism is often characterised by alienation and isolation. But Terry Eagleton describes that living in a Postmodern world is like “alienating from alienation.” It is living with the awareness of the their which crept in our private places through mass media.

                Lastly, Modernism can be described as a sort of attempt to create a sort of order out chaos. On the other hand, Postmodernism is a complete surrender to the world of chaos.

Some Brief Notes on Romanticism


What do you mean by Romanticism?

Ans. Romanticism is a literary and cultural movement that took place in the first half of the 19th century in Europe. It rejected the enlightenment values of materialism, empiricism and classicism as mechanical, impersonal and artificial and turned to the emotional directness of personal experience, freedom of individual imagination and above all originality and spontaneity of expression.

Difference between Romanticism and Neoclassicism:  

Firstly, Romanticism (Romanticism consists in a revolting spirit that strives to violate the literary norms and rules.) favours innovation over traditionalism in the material forms and style of literature. But Neoclassicism exhibits a strong traditionalism and a distrust of radical innovation
      Secondly, Romanticism stresses on the emotional directness of experience, freedom of individual imagination and above all originality and spontaneity of expression. Neoclassicism, on the other hand, always favours rationalism over easy emotionalism, reality over imagination and impersonal over personal. Instead of spontaneous and originality of expression, it relies upon careful and studied way of writing which should be modelled upon the great works of classical writers.
      Difference between Romance and Romanticism: The term ‘Romance’ refers to a particular kind of literary genre. It tells a fictional story in verse or prose that relates improbable adventures of idealised characters in some remote or enchanted setting. There are popular romances written in England in the Middle ages. Romance may contain the elements of romantic literature.
Romanticism is a literary and cultural movement that grew as a reaction against                           Neoclassicism and emphasised the importance of individual imagination and emotion                      and the spontaneity of expression.

 Major aspects of Romanticism: Romanticism, as a literary and cultural movement, is characterised by its emphasis upon the emotional directness of personal experience, freedom of individual imagination and originality and spontaneity of expression. It is also characterised by a renewed interest in nature, absconding tendency of mind and feelings of transience of human existence often dominate romantic literature.

Major Proponents of Romantic Movement in England with dominant aspects of Romanticism :
·         Samuel Taylor  Coleridge (Supernaturalism, Medievalism)
·         Percy Bysshe Shelley (revolting anti-institutional spirit and love of nature)
·         William Wordsworth (love and spiritualization of nature)
·          John Keats (love of beauties of nature, sensuality, Hellenism and medievalism)

·         George Gordon Byron (revolting spirit).

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Ode to a Nightingale: A Critical Analysis

Ode to a Nightingale: A Critical Analysis

Ode to a Nightingale is one of the famous odes of John Keats. It addresses a bird, Nightingale which stands for an ideal world where everything exists in a perfect order. It may symbolise the pure or unmixed joy. It may also stand for an artist and its song for a perfect piece of art. But the poem is structured around a series of binaries of ideal and real, joy and pain, intensity of feeling and numbness or lack of feeling and life and death.  The poet wavers between these binaries throughout the poem. Even at the end of the poem he is doubtful of the existence of the ideal world of the Nightingale as well as his imaginative flight into that world. His conflict and doubt may be attributed to his ‘negative capability’, capability of being in mysteries, uncertainties and in doubt. This conflict forms the heart of the poem and makes it more appealing to the reader.
                The poem begins with the poet listening to the song of Nightingale. His senses become numb and dull due to the excess of feelings of joy that Nightingale is pouring forth in his song: “MY heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pain/ My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk”. The poet compares this state of numbness to a state of having drunk hemlock, a poisonous European herb, or consumed an opiate and “Lethe wards sunk.” Lethe is an allusion to one of the five rivers of the Ancient Greek underworld, Hades. The Ancient Greeks believed that a soul drank from Lethe before reincarnation to eradicate the memory of their previous life. The repetition of ‘s’ in ‘a drowsy numbness pains my sense,’ combined with the long ‘o’ and ‘a’ sounds, sonically reflects the speaker’s soporific state .The poet’s ambivalent emotional response, which constitutes a mixture of pain and pleasure, to the song of Nightingale is possibly due to the imperfect nature of human mind and its inability to experience the absolute happiness. That’s why perhaps P.B. Shelley says in To a Skylark :  “We look before and after, / And pine for what is not:/  Our sincerest laughter/ With some pain is fraught;/ Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought”.
              In the next stanza the poet longs for wine to “fade away” in the mystic world of Nightingale. The description of the beautifully picturesque, sensuous and appeals to our different senses. This wine not only consists in all the goodness of flowers and country green but also it evokes the entire festive mood merry making in an idyllic village: “Tasting of Flora and the country-green,/Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth!”. In the next stanza the poet stops his imaginative flight for a while and comes back to the real world of “The weariness, the fever, and the fret” what Nightingale “among the leaves hast never known”.  Here youth and beauty are transitory and thinking only causes despair. So the poet decides to escape into the world of Nightingale again not by dint of wine but by poetic imagination, “ the viewless wings of poesy”. Now the poet reaches the world of nightingale. In spite of the presence of the full moon, it is dimly lighted because of the dense green forest which casts “verdurous gloom” and allows a meagre amount of moon light to reach the earth through its “mossy ways”.

                  The 5th  Stanza is the climax of the poet’s imaginative flight.  It is a rich description of the speaker’s surroundings. It is so dark that he identifies the plants and flowers around him through their scents, employing olfactory imagery. But the stanza gives the impression of the juxtaposition of beauty and death as Keats refers to an “embalmed darkness”, “Fast fading violet covered up in leaves” and the allusion to the funeral flower of musk-rose. Keats seems to be telling us that death does not mean the end of beauty for his soul. Death maybe is not just a release from the earthly confinements and mortal pains but also the way to perpetuate the moment of ecstasy. This is clearly expressed in the next stanza. The intensification of contrasting feelings of pain and pleasure turns into his death wish:I have been half in love with easeful Death,/ Call'd him soft names in many a musèd rhyme,/ To take into the air my quiet breath;/ Now more than ever seems it rich to die,” .But the poet’s attitude to death is ambivalent as he realises that death will not bring him closer to nightingale. It leads the poet to non-existence, inability to feel the bird's ecstasy:  “Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain—/ To thy high requiem become a sod.”
            The meditative trance with which the poem begins and which reaches its peak in the fourth and fifth stanzas and that starts declining in the sixth, continues in the stanza VII through the mundane images of "hungry generations". The poet again compares the nightingale’s care free state of existence to his present one, in which “hungry generations tread” each other for survival. Nightingales’s song also soothed agony of the distressed soul to different persons (Ancient emperor, clown, Biblical homesick Ruth and captive princess of the Middle age) at different times in the past. Though they sought inspiration from the song of nightingale, they could never be united with nightingale remained at their solitary state of his existence. The solitary state of the existence of the captive princess reminds the poet that of his own, the unbridgeable distance between the poet and the nightingale. The widening of this eternal gap is marked by the slow rhythm of the verses towards the end of the poem.

           This decline, this awareness and awakening will be completed with the transition between this penultimate stanza and the last as the word "forlorn" (l.79 and l.80) closes the former and opens the latter with a change in its meaning, the second one referring to the dreamer, now back to his "sole self”(l.72), to the physical and real world, and the Romantic flight of imagination not being sustained any more..  "Adieu! The fancy cannot cheat so well" (l.73) It is the end of the poet’s exaltation. That stanza VIII begins with the poet bidding farewell to the nightingale. The bird has ceased to be a symbol and is again the actual bird the poet heard in stanza I, closing in a perfect circle the poem. The bird flies away to another spot to sing, but he cannot follow it as he had hoped; he had only momentarily been separated from himself by its song. Even as he listens, the melody fades into the distance like an illusion, slowly. The end of the dream, the return to reality is also accompanied with a hard awareness as a painful pilgrimage that the Ode has been: the knowledge of the limitation of the power of imagination which is identified with the nightingale and that parallelism is made complete when imagination departs the poet at the same time the nightingale does.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

A Critical Analysis of Florence Nightingale (From Eminent Victorians by Lytton Strachey)

A Critical Analysis of Florence Nightingale:


Lytton Strachey
The present text is a part of the famous book Eminent Victorians (1918) written by Lytton Strachey. Strachey was one of the influential members of Bloomsbury Group, a loosely associated group of English writers, intellectuals, philosophers and artists who shared and propagated a common view of life in the early 20th century England. They stood apart from the conventional norms, bourgeois values and Victorian morality and adopted a more liberal way of life with a focus on personal relationships and individual pleasure.  As a member of this society, Lytton Strachey, a biographer and literary critic, took an unconventional attitude to writing biography.  He revolutionized and even deconstructed the concept as well as technique of writing biography in Eminent Victorians. In November 1912 he wrote to Virginia Woolf that their Victorian predecessors "seem to me a set of mouth bungled hypocrites." He demystified several Victorian icons like Cardinal Manning, Florence Nightingale, Thomas Arnold and General Gordon who were standing on the ivory tower of glory. He stripped them of their aura associated with them to present a realistic picture of their life with psychological realism.  In the present essay on Florence Nightingale, founder of modern nursing system, he shatters the romantic and ideal concept of her life.  He deflates the aura of this soft, delicate, angelic lady known as the “lady with the lamp” with divine mercy and grace as he says, “But the truth was different,” suggesting that the real woman behind the popular imagination was quite different in real life. Strachey begins his essay with a shocking remark upon Miss. Nightingale: “She moved under the stress of an impetus which finds no place in popular imagination. A demon possessed her” (P.119). Later in the course of his writing Strachey clarifies its meaning.

The Lady with the Lamp

               The essay is divided in five parts each of which deals with different aspects of her life from different perspectives.   The first passage focuses more upon Florence Nightingale’s inward life, her character and mind. This passage also depicts the earlier stages of her life when she was preparing herself to choose the profession of a nurse.  Born of a well-to-do family, Florence Nightingale was brought up with all the advantages of aristocratic life. While her sisters and cousins were busy in dinner-parties, dances and finding suitable partner for marriage, her craving was quite different. Strachey writes, “She would think of nothing but how to satisfy that singular craving of hers to be doing something” (p.121).  Her lovers had been to her “an added burden and a mockery” (P.123). She was able brush aside all the allurements and temptations of life with disdain and loathing. Thus she suppressed, according to Strachey, “the most powerful and the profoundest of all the instincts of humanity” (p.123). But the suppression of this powerful instinct transformed her into a megalomaniac, autocratic, dominating lady with a strong and persisting desire of “doing something.”  This also gave her energy to face and overcome numerous difficulties in her profession as nursing was regarded as “a peculiarly disreputable” (p.121) profession at that time.
              The second passage describes Florence’s activities in the Army hospital at Scutari. Upon arriving at Scutari she found the hospital in a deplorable condition without the basic facilities needed for the patients (p.120).  She used her own resources and connections to provide them with the basic facilities. Her sympathy and affection touched the hearts of the patients and infused new hopes into those who had lost their hopes in life.  Sometimes her efforts rescued those who had been considered as beyond curable by the doctor.  Soon she became an idol mong the patients. Strachey writes: “A passionate idolatry among the men: they kissed her shadow as it passed”(p.137). But there was other side of this delicate angelic lady which was known to the surgeons and other staff working under her instruction in the Scutari Hospital.  Strachey writes: “Beneath her cool and calm demeanour lurked fierce and passionate fires…the high deliberation in the scope of the capacious brow, the sign of power in the dominating curve of the thin nose, and the traces of a harsh and dangerous temper – something peevish,something mocking, and yet something precise – the small and delicate mouth” (p.137). This is with her fierce dominating nature she brought order out of chaos with strict method and stern discipline. After all days’ restraints and reserve, she poured out all her pent up energies in writing letters and which she filled with recommendations, suggestion and criticism at night. She also used her suppressed energies to find the faults of her officials and criticise them with fierce sarcasm and ridicule. Strachey writes: “…her pen, in the virulence of its volubility, would rush on to the discussion of individuals, to the denunciation of an incompetent surgeon or the ridicule of self-sufficient nurse. Her   sarcasm searched the ranks of the officials with the deadly and unsparing precision of  a machine gun” (p.139). Strachey also mentioned that she respected none. Even her vituperation descended upon her most well-wisher friend Sidney Herbert with whom she was once engaged in temporary quarrel. After gaining much popularity Miss Nightingale returned to England.     
            The third passage deals with her activity in England.  Though she returned in a shattered state of health, she refused to take rest as “a demonic frenzy had seized her.”  She had the plan of reforming the military hospitals and their sanitary system. But she had to face the difficulties posed before her by her opponent like Dr. Andrew Smith, the head of the Army Medical Department and Lord. Panmure.  But she with her restless and indomitable spirit ultimately triumphed over them.  But the labour and effort needed was enormous and it affected her health.  But she refused to take rest.  Even she was thinking of reforming Army Medical system in India.  Strachey writes, “Her desire for work could now be scarcely distinguished from mania” (p.158).  When one of her well-wisher and friend Dr. Sutherland urged her to take rest, she replied, “I am lying without my head, without my claws, and you all peck at me” (p.158).
           In the fourth passage, Strachey sardonically portrays her adventure in the philosophic and spiritual realm after her flawless victory in the physical world of action. Strachey writes:
 “She sighed for more worlds to conquer –more, and yet more. She looked about her – what      was there left? Of course! Philosophy! After the world of action, the world of thought” (p.169). She found many defects in the workings and teachings of the church and tended to correct it with her suggestions.  Her Suggestions for Thought to the Searchers after Truth among the Artisans of England (1860) unravels the difficulties …connected with such matters as Belief in God, the plan of Creation, the origin of Evil etc.  Strachey sardonically comments on her conception of God: “…her conception of God was certainly not orthodox. She felt towards Him as she might  have felt towards a glorified sanitary engineer…she seems hardly to distinguish between the Deity and the Drains”(p.171). His biting satire on Miss. Nightingale does not end with this. He continues that if one reads few pages of her book he will get the impression that “Miss Nightingale has got the Almighty too into her clutches, and that, if He is not careful, she will kill Him with overwork.” (p.171) But she was more comfortable in analysing and dissecting facts than in constructing abstract coherent system of thought. She was an empiricist who believed in what she saw. For her there was no such thing as “infection” as she had not seen it. But she noticed the good effect of fresh air upon her patients. That’s why she always insisted that the patients’ bedrooms should be well-ventilated.  But according to Strachey it was “purely empirical doctrine and thus it led to some unfortunate results” (p.172).  Though she was unaware of the hot weather in India, she recommended that “windows must be kept open all the year round” in the hospitals. This almost shocked the authorities in India who opposed this decision. But she stood firm in her position.
            The final passage depicts the last years of her life.  In this period, she, according to Strachey, was gradually being transformed from the “thin, angular woman, with her haughty eye and her aerid mouth” (p.177) to a rounded fat lady smiling all day long. Strachey writes, “The brain which had been steeled at Scutari was indeed, literally, growing soft” (p.177).


*        Text used :       Strachey, Lytton.  Eminent Victorians. London: Chatto & Windus, 1918. Print.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Humanism and some important questions and their answers


1)Write a brief note on the basic concept of Humanism.

Ans. Humanism is an active ethical and philosophical approach to life focusing on human solutions to human issues through rational arguments without recourse to a god, gods, sacred texts or religious creeds. Most generally, it refers to any philosophy that emphasises human welfare and dignity and is optimistic about the power of human reason. Humanism has become a kind of implied ethical doctrine ("-ism") whose sphere is expanded to include the whole human ethnicity, as opposed to traditional ethical systems which apply only to particular ethnic groups.

2) What do you mean by Renaissance Humanism?

Ans. Humanism as a philosophical, cultural and social movement in Europe has its root in Renaissance. This sweeping movement across Europe is known as Renaissance Humanism. Renaissance humanism was a cultural movement in Europe from the mid-14th century Italy (particularly Florence) to the mid-17th century England. The humanist movement developed from the rediscovery by European scholars of Latin literary and Greek literary texts. Initially, a humanist was simply a scholar or teacher of “studia humanities” that involves grammar, rhetoric, history, poetry and moral philosophy as studied via Latin and Greek literary authors. The return to favour of the pagan classics stimulated the philosophy of secularism, the appreciation of worldly pleasures, and above all intensified the assertion of personal independence and individual expression.

3) Trace the growth and development of Renaissance Humanism as cultural movement.

Ans. According to the Renaissance humanist, classical world of the antiquity was the pinnacle of human achievement, especially intellectual achievement, and should be taken as a model by contemporary Europeans. The intellectual heritage of the ancient world had been lost  due to the fall of Rome to Germanic invaders in the fifth century. The only way in which Europeans could expect to pull themselves out of this intellectual catastrophe was to attempt to recover, edit, and make available these lost texts, which included, among others, almost all the works of Plato. The return to favor of the pagan classics stimulated the philosophy of secularism, the appreciation of worldly pleasures, and above all intensified the assertion of personal independence and individual expression. Thus Renaissance Humanism emerged as a cultural force and held sway over European literature, art and culture of succeeding centuries.

4) Mention the remarkable figures of Renaissance Humanism in Europe.

Ans. Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536), one of the greatest humanists, occupied a position midway between extreme piety and frank secularism. Francesco Petrarch (1304-1374) represented conservative Italian humanism. Robust secularism and intellectual independence reached its height in Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) and Francesco Guicciardini (1483-1540). Rudolphus Agricola (1443-1485) may be regarded as the German Petrarch. In England, John Colet (c.1467-1519) and Sir Thomas More (1478-1535) were early or conservative humanists, Francis Bacon (1561-1626) represented later or agnostic and sceptical humanism. Besides, there were humanists like Sir Philip Sidney, Edmund Spenser and John Milton representing spirit of Christian humanism. In France, pious classicists like Lefèvre d'Étaples (1453-1536) were succeeded by frank, urbane, and devout skeptics like Michel Montaigne (1533-1592) and bold anti-clerical satirists like François Rabelais (c.1495-1533).

5) Mention the major texts that contain the beliefs and values of Humanism.

Ans. Giovanni Pico della Mirandola’s An Oration on the Dignity of Man is taken as seminal text in the development of humanism. In it, he talked about how God created man and that man's greatness comes from God. He said that man was like a chameleon. It meant that he could become whatever he wanted to be. He speaks of the infinitely possibility hidden within man. In England, Thomas More’s Utopia, which shows the way of creating an ideal heaven on earth, represents Renaissance spirit of worldliness. Bacon’s essay like Of Truth, Of Study etc. take a worldly and pragmatic attitude to life. Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus represents a Renaissance man’s craving for knowledge, wealth and physical beauty.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Literary Image:

Q. What is an image? Illustrate with examples.

Fire CrestImage: Image in its simplest sense is a word picture. C. Day Lewis in his Poetic Image defined it as a “picture made out of words”. Images are used to make poetry concrete, as opposed to abstract. An image is a description of some visible scene or object. But apart from the visual reproduction of the object, an image may appeal to other senses like – sense of touch, sense of smell, sense of taste etc. Images may be of two types – literal and figurative. Literal image is taken for what it is. It only gives us a mental picture and does not refer to any further thought. But figurative images are the vehicles of similes and metaphors. It not only gives us a mental picture but also carries with it a thought apart from that picture. In William Wordsworth’s “She Dwelt among the Untrodden Ways”, we find literal images of “untrodden ways”, “springs”, “grave”. But there are also figurative images which function as the vehicles of similes and metaphor. Some examples are “A violet by a mossy stone” and “a star, when only one/ Is shining in the sky”. All these refer to the secluded life of Lucy. In Philip Sidney’s Loving in Truth, we get literal images like “blackest face”, “fresh and fruitful showers”. But there are the images of child, step-dame and pregnant woman which act as the vehicles of metaphors and similes and convey the sense of spontaneous poetic skill, artificial and learned approach to poetry and poet full of thoughts and feelings respectively.

Sunday, 19 April 2015



While defining tragedy Aristotle writes that tragedy aims at arousing the emotion of pity and fear to affect the “Katharsis” of these emotions. Confusion arises due to aristotle’s use of the term “Katharsis” for he never elucidated the term or even mentioned it again in the whole Poetics. The Greek word “Katharsis” has three meanings – “purgation”, “purification” and “clarification”. Critics have taken each meaning to give a new interpretation of the term.
                             Catharsis has often been taken as a medical metaphor – “purgation”. Some critics regards this process as similar to homeopathic treatment with like curing the like. A similar view is expressed by Aristotle in The Politics where he refers to religious frenzy being cured by certain tunes which create religious frenzy. Tragedy offers an excess of emotion of pity and fear that bring to surface our latent emotion of pity and fear which we bring with us in real life. Thus it purges us of those excess of emotion and restores a healthy state of emotional equilibrium.
                           Humphrey House rejects the idea of “purgation” as a medical metaphor to propound his own theory of “purification” which involves the idea of moral instruction and moral learning. Humphrey House points out that “purgation means cleansing”. Now cleansing may be a “quantitative evacuation”, or a “qualitative change” in the body brought about by a restoration of proper equilibrium. According to Humphrey House, a qualitative change is brought about in our system of emotional responses and the result is emotional health. Thus our emotions are purified of excess and defect and are reduced to intermediate state, trained and directed towards the attainment of the “Golden Mean” which is the focal point of discussion in Aristotle’s Ethics.
                          It was forgotten that Aristotle was writing treatise not on psychology but on art of poetry. He is more concerned with the technique, the way in which ideal tragedy can be written than its psychological effects on the audience. Leon Golden translates the relevant part of Aristotle’s famous definition of poetry in the following way: “...through the representation of pitiable and fearful incidents, tragedy achieves the catharsis of such incidents.” Thus he relates catharsis not to the emotions of the spectators, as in other theories but to the incidents which form the plot of tragedy, to happen in tragedy itself. This is known as “clarification theory”.
                                    Thus  “purgation”,  “purgation”,  “clarification”, each interpretation is justified in themselves. Though the critics differ from each other considerably, they agree on point that tragedy arouses the emotions of pity and fear thereby pleasing us in its final effect.

Aristotle’s Concept of Tragic Hero

Aristotle’s Concept of Tragic Hero

Function of a tragedy, according to Aristotle, is to arouse the emotions of pity and fear. Therefore three types of plot should be avoided. Firstly, a perfectly good man should not be  shown as passing from happiness to misery. Such an action would be morally shocking. Secondly, the spectacle of an utterly bad man passing from misery to happiness is unacceptable to us and should be avoided.

Aristotle 2
Thirdly, the spectacle of the downfall of a villain will satisfy our moral sense and cannot arouse the emotions of pity and fear. Having excluded three types of plot, Aristotle opts for a protagonist who is not predominantly virtuous not thoroughly bad. Aristotle points that an ideal tragic hero is “the sort of person who is not outstanding in moral excellence or justice; on the other hand, the change to bad fortune which he undergoes is not due to any moral defect or depravity, but to an error of some kind” [Poetics, Amlan Das Gupta (ed.) Pearson, and Longman]. Butcher points out that he is like us and raised above the ordinary level by a deeper vein of feeling, or a heightened powers of intellect or will. He idealised, but still he has so much of common humanity as to enlist our interest and sympathy. Apart from the inner qualities of a tragic hero, Aristotle lays bare another significant aspect of tragic hero. “He is one of those people who are held in great esteem and enjoy great good fortune, like Oedipus, Thyestes” [Poetics, Amlan Das Gupta (ed.)]. On the whole, he must be a highly placed individual, well-reputed, but in moral sense he would be men like us.

Aristotle's Concept of Three Unities

Aristotle's Concept of  Three Unities: 

The three unites are unity of time, unity of place and unity of action. The action in a tragedy, according to Aristotle, must be a “complete a whole” and it must have “organic unity”.  Aristotle’s conception of the unity of action is not a formal and mechanical one. According to Butcher, it is “an organic unity, an inward principle which reveals itself in the form of an outward whole”. Though tragic action centres on one man’s life, tragic unity is not easily achieved because infinitely various are the incidents in one man’s life which cannot be reduced to unity. Therefore all such events which do not directly contribute to the process of protagonist’s passing from happiness to misery should be rigorously eliminated. Aristotle also rejects the plurality of action. There should be one plot. He is against the introduction of a sub-plot or double ending because it may weaken the tragic effect. The doctrine of the unity of time rests on only one passage in Poetics. Here Aristotle differentiates tragedy and epic poetry saying that tragedy endeavours to “confine itself to a single revolution of time or but slightly to exceed the limit whereas epic action has no such limit of time”. Neo-classical dramatist believed that there should be an exact correspondence between the time of the dramatic action and the time of the events being imitated. Aristotle never mentioned the unity of place anywhere in Poetics. While comparing epic and tragedy, he merely says that the epic may narrate several actions taking place simultaneously at several places, but this not possible for tragedy which does not narrate, but represent through action. This chance remark led Renaissance and Neo-classical critics to formulate a rigid rule of unity of action. It was said that in drama there should be no change of place. Even if change takes place, it should be confined to the limits of a single city. Each of these unity has been violated by many Elizabethan and modern dramatists. Even in some Greek dramas these unities were not scrupulously observed. Yet we cannot deny the importance of Aristotle’s theory. We must remember what Bywater said: “What Aristotle says is not a percept, but only an incidental recognition of a fact in practice of theatre of his age.”

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Contribution of John Gower

Contribution of John Gower: 

In an illustration from a manuscript of  Vox Clamantis showing Gower shooting the world, it was written: "I throw my darts and shoot my arrows at the world. But where there is a righteous man, no arrow strikes". John Gower is a moralist and a serious critic of corruption in contemporary society and church and above all in human life. His arrows strike everybody who deviates from the righteous way of life and chooses a way of vice. His works always contain some serious moral for the readers whom he wants to teach, not to entertain. He was a friend of Geoffrey Chaucer who addressed him as ‘moral Gower’ at the close of Troilus and Criseyde. He is remembered primarily for three major works - Speculam Meditantis, Vox Clamantis, and Confessio Amantis, three long poems written in French, Latin, and English respectively and united by common moral and political themes.
                                                       Speculam Meditantis  written in twelve-line stanzas of octosyllabic verse, with two sets of rhymes in each stanza arranged aab aab bba bba. It deals with vices and virtues and of the different grades of society, and endeavours to print out the path by which a sinner may return to God and obtain pardon through the aid of  Jesus Christ and of  Virgin Mary. It concludes with a life of “Our Lady”, into which is also naturally introduced an account of the principal events in the life of Christ.

                                                          The Vox Clamantis contains 10,265 lines of elegiac verse. It deals with the rising of the peasants in 1381; the need of pure religious faith; the vices of the clergy of every degree, of the merchants, of the lawyers, and of the common people; and the duties of a king. The poem is an important account of life under Richard II in London and the effects of the peasants' rebellion. Using the rebellion (which clinched several demands for the peasants) as an allegory, Gower expresses his concern for a future vacant of law and education. But Gower takes an entirely aristocratic side in the poem, regarding the peasants' claims as invalid and their actions as following the anti-Christ.

                                                                Gower's English works are the Confessio Amantis and a poem addressed to King Henry IV, which from its subject has been called "In Praise of Peace". Confessio Amantis is a poem of 33,000-line written throughout in octosyllabic rhyming couplets. It uses the confession made by an ageing lover to the chaplain of Venus as a frame story for a collection of shorter narrative poems. In genre it is usually considered a poem of consolation, a medieval form inspired by Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy and typified by works such as Pearl. Despite this, it is more usually studied alongside other tale collections with similar structures, such as the Decameron of Boccaccio, and particularly Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, with which  Confessio Amantis  has several stories in common. It is divided in eight books and each book of the poem is devoted to one sin, and the first six books follow the traditional order for the first six sins: pride, envy, wrath, sloth, avarice, and gluttony. C.S. Lewis identifies a "sweetness and freshness" in its verse and praises its "memorable precision and weight”.
                                                   As the canons of criticism developed, it was inevitable that the minor poet would suffer from contrast with his great contemporary. Hence Gower has been generally relegated to an undeservedly inferior rank as compared to Chaucer. In spite of his monotonous moralizing tone, he is a good story-teller. His art of telling a story in a natural way, as shown for example in the Confession Amantis, is by no means slender, and in some respects will stand comparison with Chaucer's admittedly great gifts as a narrator.

Lady Macbeth and the Sleep-Walking Scene

Q. Comment on the sleep-walking Scene in Macbeth and discuss how it focuses on the character of Lady Macbeth.
Ans. Though the plot of Macbeth is dominated by Macbeth, the importance of Lady Macbeth in the gradual transformation in plot construction cannot be put aside. Except, Macbeth she is the most acclaimed character in this play. She shares her husband’s lust for power. Her fierce goading leads Macbeth to commit regicide and seize the throne.

           Realising the horrible consequence of his misdeeds, Macbeth divulges his anguish in his soliloquy in Act-v, Sc-v, and makes a tragic appeal to the audience. But Lady Macbeth finds a concentrated expression for her agony and claims sympathy from the audience in only one scene, that is Act-v, Sc-I.  This is the so called sleep walking scene where we find a Lady Macbeth faint with the trembling flame of a candle, completely different from the graceful queen who with her firmness and strength at once controls the guest and her frightened husband in a royal banquet in Act-III, Sc-IV. In this scene her total mental break down suggests her inability to handle the evil which she deliberately invoked to choose.
        Before sleep-walking scene we lastly see Lady Macbeth in the Banquet scene where her boldness does not give any hint of her impending breakdown. She loves her husband deeply and wants to assist him and appease his mental unease. But since the murder of Duncan Lady Macbeth becomes increasingly unimportant to her husband as begins to go emotional collapse that constitutes the main plot. Due to the increasing detachment from him and all the ghastliness and unnaturalness of her crime, she loses her balance of her mind.  Her progressive weakness of mind is expressed in her utterance: “Nought’s had all spent/ Where our desire is not without content” (Act-III, Sc-II). Her desolation sinks inward and from this state of nervous exhaustion and lonely brooding, sleep-walking is a possible and natural happening.
            The sickness of Lady Macbeth is vividly suggested by her perpetual longing for light as she is afraid of darkness which is associated with hell: “Out damned spot...Hell is murky”. But it was she invoked the dark night: “Come thick night/ And pall thee with the dunnest smoke of hell” (I, IV). But now “she has light by her continually”. At the moment of murder she encouraged Macbeth saying, “A little water clears us of this deed”. But now the smell of blood haunts her mind. She says, “All perfumes of Arabia will sweeten this little hand”. She said defiantly, “What’s done is done.” But now she regrets, “What’s done cannot be undone”. The sharp contrast between her previous and later speeches brings to the fore the dramatic irony of the play.
          The incoherent language in which Lady Macbeth speaks is also suggestive of her “great perturbation in nature”. Though her speeches are incoherent, there is a rational connection in the sequence of her thought and ides. But the grandiose iambic pentameter of her courtyard speeches has been contracted into a spasmodic series stark interjection, most of them being monosyllabic: “Yet who have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him”. Her allusion to Lady Macduff seems reduced to the miniature scale of a nursery rhyme (The thane of Fife /Had a wife), but it culminates in the universal lamentation of “ubi est”: “Where is she now?” Verse is the language of emotion under control, but her emotion is jumble and memory is chaotic. So she appropriately speaks in prose. A. C. Bradley has rightly remarked that Lady Macbeth is “the only one of the Shakespeare’s tragic characters who on last appearance is denied the dignity of verse.”
  The traditional explanation of Lady Macbeth’s bold beginning and a remorseful pathetic end is that she has an originally, naturally, gentle and womanly nature and therefore collapses from the strain violating that nature. But psychoanalytical study has rejected this explanation and tends to diagnose her malady as a manifestation of hysteria which compels her to re-enact the pattern of her behaviour that she deliberately tried to repress. Sigmund Freud regarded this sleep-walker and her sleepless mate as the two parts of a single split personality. “Together they exhaust the possibilities of reaction to the crime, like two disunited parts of single psychical individuality, and it may be that they are both copied from a single prototype.”

Donne’s Treatment of Love

couple 1700sDonne’s Treatment of Love: Donne’s poetry may be classified under three groups –  love poetry, the miscellaneous and occasional poems and verse letters and the religious poetry. But as a poet of love, he is chiefly remembered. Donne love-poems deal with the basic theme of the problem of the place of human love in a physical world dominated by change and death. The problem is approached in different ways - sometimes by asserting the immortality of love and sometimes by declaring the futility of love. That’s why the mood of his poetry extends from ecstatic and passionate idealization of love in The Sun Rising, The Undertaking, The Good Morrow and The Dream to the deliberately cynical flippancy of The Flea and Go and Catch a Falling Star. The poet who is capable of profound sense of spiritual union in love is also capable of savage bitterness. The poet who affirms the constancy of love in absence of the lovers can also go to the extent of describing “changed lovers” as “changed sorts of meats”. But in spite of his fluctuating attitude to love, Donne’s poetry is marked with an unusual directness and concreteness of suggestion. He deliberately avoided the smooth fluency and courtliness of diction of the average Elizabethan lyric and introduced colloquialism in poetry. Moreover he dispensed with Petrarchan tradition of woman-worship. To Donne, woman is no goddess. She is a creature, desirable but not adorable. “His love poetry”, says Prof. R.G. Cox, “is remarkable for realism, psychological penetration and above for the range and variety of mood”.
                                            The Sun Rising opens with colloquial tone with the poet rebuking sun for intruding upon his private room and disturbing his pleasant moments of intimacy with his beloved. Then the poet in a sardonic tone belittles the mundane activities which are subject to change and immortalizes his love: “Love, all alike, no season knows, nor clime, / Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.” His love is the real experience. Everything compared to it is a mere counterfeit: “…compared to this, / All honour’s mimic, all wealth alchemy”. Finally their private world of love transcends the mundane reality and becomes self-contained, complete and the microcosm of the world. So the poet advises the sun: “Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere; / This bed thy centre is, these walls, thy sphere.”. Though the poet here speaks of higher love that transcends earthly reality, the poem smacks of an implied eroticism. The poet celebrates higher love. “But it must reach out”, A.E. Dyson and Julian Lovelock remarks, “beyond the bedroom if it is to carry conviction, to clearer loyalties, stronger renunciations of erotic possessiveness, than this poem affords”
                                            In Go and Catch a Falling Star, the poet in a bitterly cynical tone subverts the romantic concept of courtly love and deification of lady-love. He speaks of the impossibility of finding a truly sacred woman. It is the most bizarre thing in the world to find a pure woman: “All strange wonders that befell thee, / And swear / Nowhere / Lives a woman true and fair”.

                                          Thus in the two poems Donne reveals his two completely different attitudes to love and its treatment. Sometimes Donne considers love as a divine experience and sometimes he sets it in ground reality. In this respect we can quote Louis Martz who said in his essay John Donne: Love’s Philosophy: “ His best poems are not those which move toward either extreme…but they are rather those in which the physical and the spiritual are made to work together, through the curiously shifting and winding manner that marks Donne’s movements toward Truth”. This shows that Neoplatonism which was in vogue in Renaissance in England influenced Donne to some extent. 

Monday, 13 April 2015


Hamartia: According to Aristotle, downfall of the hero “is not due to any moral defect or depravity, but to an error of some kind”. In this context, Aristotle uses the word “hamartia” which is often loosely interpreted as “tragic flaw”, as it has been done by Bradely. But Butcher, Bywater and Rostangi all agree that “Hamartia” is not associated with moral state. Instead, it is an error of judgement which a man commits. Humphrey House observes that Aristotle does not assert or deny anything about the connection of “hamartia” with moral failing in the hero: “It may be accompanied by moral imperfection, but it is not itself a moral imperfection, and in the purest tragic the suffering hero is not morally to blame”. Hamartia, an error of judgement, may arise from three following ways. Firstly, it may arise from “ignorance of material fact or circumstance”. Secondly, it may be an error arising from hasty or careless view of the special case. Thirdly, it may be an error voluntary but not deliberate, as in the case of acts committed in anger or passion. In King Oedipus, Butcher says, “his (Aristotle) conception of hamartia includes all the three meanings above, which in English cannot be covered by single term.” Therefore “hamartia” is not a moral imperfection. It may be accompanied with moral fault. It is an error of judgement arising from ignorance of some material circumstance or from rashness and impulsiveness.

Aristotle’s Concept of Tragic Hero

Aristotle’s Concept of Tragic Hero: Function of a tragedy, according to Aristotle, is to arouse the emotions of pity and fear. Therefore three types of plot should be avoided. Firstly, a perfectly good man should not be  shown as passing from happiness to misery. Such an action would be morally shocking. Secondly, the spectacle of an utterly bad man passing from misery to happiness is unacceptable to us and should be avoided. Thirdly, the spectacle of the downfall of a villain will satisfy our moral sense and cannot arouse the emotions of pity and fear. Having excluded three types of plot, Aristotle opts for a protagonist who is not predominantly virtuous not thoroughly bad. Aristotle points that an ideal tragic hero is “the sort of person who is not outstanding in moral excellence or justice; on the other hand, the change to bad fortune which he undergoes is not due to any moral defect or depravity, but to an error of some kind” [Poetics, Amlan Das Gupta (ed.) Pearson, and Longman]. Butcher points out that he is like us and raised above the ordinary level by a deeper vein of feeling, or a heightened powers of intellect or will. He idealised, but still he has so much of common humanity as to enlist our interest and sympathy. Apart from the inner qualities of a tragic hero, Aristotle lays bare another significant aspect of tragic hero. “He is one of those people who are held in great esteem and enjoy great good fortune, like Oedipus, Thyestes” [Poetics, Amlan Das Gupta (ed.)]. On the whole, he must be a highly placed individual, well-reputed, but in moral sense he would be men like us.

Significance of the Porter Scene in Macbeth

Significance of the Porter Scene in Macbeth:

Porter talking to Lennox and Macduff
Macbeth is a tragedy which unfolds before us a world where “Good things of Day begin to droop and drowse, / Whiles Night’s black agents to their preys do rouse.” It portrays a dark and gloomy world which teems with blood and murder. But the presence of the drunken porter with his comical and apparently meaningless words seems to be irrelevant. Pope and Coleridge agreed that the Porter scene was interpolated by the players. Whether Shakespeare wrote it or not is debatable issue. But its relevance and significance in the whole play can be logically established.
                                                                                                                   Firstly, the scene is theatrically necessary as it gives time for the actor and the actress who play the role of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth to wash their hands and change their clothes. Capell suggested that it was necessary “to give a rational space for the discharge of their action.”
                                                                                                                     Secondly, it provides comic relief to the audience. The audience has just witnessed the killing of Duncan and the horror surrounding it and this comic scene gives the audience a chance to catch their breaths and enlivens the gloomy atmosphere of horror. The Porter is, as White comments, “one of Shakespeare’s true humours grotesques, although not of the best sort of them.” He can be compared with the grave-digger in Hamlet and the Fool in King Lear.
                                                                                                                                     But the Porter Scene entirely destroys this atmosphere of horror. At the very beginning the Porter imagines himself to be the “Porter of Hell Gate”. Kenneth Muir reminds us that “it is there to increase our feelings of horror. We are never allowed to forget through the scene that a murder has been committed, and it is about to be discovered. If we laugh, we never forget.”
                                                                                                                                     According to Prof. Hales, the Porter is intended to be contrasted to his master and to come out as the better man, morally superior to Macbeth. He is no doubt vulgar, lo-bred, drunken and obscene. Yet he has committed no murder. His presence may bear an implicit moral import that a man of foul tongue is better than a man of foul deed.
                                                                                                                                  What the Porter says may seem irrelevant. But close analysis reveals that they are very much associated with the main theme of the play. The Porter invites three sinners to enter the castle which he imagines as hell. Their sins strongly echoes the Macbeth’s crime. Like Macbeth, all of them took the short and easy way to gain pleasure or power. The Jesuit equivocator who is accused of equivocation is reminder of contemporary political theme of treason and equivocation derived of famous Gunpowder Plot. Like him, Macbeth also equivocates after the murder of Duncan: “All is but toys: renown, and grace is dead; / The wine of life is drawn, the mere less/Is left this vault to brag of.”
                                                                                                                                     Lastly the knocking in the Porter Scene makes a strong impact on the audience. Thomas De Quincey has remarkably commented on it. With this is brought back the pulsating note of life. Thomas De Quincey has summed up this point wonderfully, “...the pulses of life are beginning to beat again; and the re-establishment of the goings on of the world in which we live, first makes us profoundly sensible of the awful parenthesis that has suspended them.”

Friday, 3 April 2015

Character of Macbeth

Character of Macbeth:It is difficult to assess the character of  Macbeth as a hero or as a villain. From the beginning to the end of the play, his personality undergoes a sea change. From a brave and loyal follower of king he is transformed into a ruthless murderer. At the beginning of the play all other characters including Banquo are eclipsed by Macbeth’s valour and heroism. He is called as “valour’s minion”, “Bellona’s bridegroom lapped in proof”, “brave” and “noble” Macbeth, the king’s “valiant cousin” etc. But in the last scene of the fourth act, it is he who is regarded as the “Fiend of Scotland”, a “hell-kite”, the “tyrant” “whose sole name blisters our tongues”, “devilish Macbeth”. Though Macbeth falls in the eye of the other characters, the reader can easily separate Macbeth from a hardened criminal. Actually what save Macbeth from being a villain character are some of his redeeming qualities.
                                                         Macbeth has an extraordinary sensitive and imaginative mind which expresses it fear, remorse and agony through beautiful poetry. His wavering before the murder of Duncun, his hallucination of the blood dripping dagger, his mental torment and anguish all testify to his sensitive and imaginative mind. After he commits the murder his immediate concern is not with being discovered, but with his conscience. He says “To know my deed, ‘twere best not know myself”[ActII,ScII]. At the end of the play he is tormented by the awareness that he is now living amidst “Curses, not loud but deep, mouth-honour, breath”[ActV,ScIII].
                                              Another virtue that he has retained is his courage. But it has inhuman quality: “bear-like, I must fight the course” [ActV,ScVII]. But when he understands the deceptive prophecies of the witches, he succumbs to a genuine human emotion. He feels sheer terror: “it hath cow’d my better part of man” [ActV,ScVIII]. But soon he recovers courage enough to die. Thus in his death he is not totally lost.
                                         Other strong point of Macbeth’s character is his capacity to face and withstand the ugly truth about himself. Though the influence of the witches and of Lady Macbeth is very prominent, Macbeth is not totally controlled by them. He consciously embraces the evil and also aware of its consequence. He is conscious of the goodness he abandons. He recognises the “deep damnation” to be expected and his hallucination of dagger confirms the force of his knowledge.
                                        He is also introspective and can analyse his mind appropriately. He knows what prompts him to commit the murder. It is his “vaulting ambition”. Though he diagnoses his malady, he acts humanly without trying to resist it.
                       In the world of evil his weak and nervous beginning and bold end is contrasted with his wife’s bold beginning and a remorseful pathetic end. Sigmund Freud made a comparative study of their character and concluded that they are the two parts of a single split personality. “Together they exhaust the possibilities of reaction to the crime, like two disunited parts of single psychical individuality, and it may be that they are both copied from a single prototype.”   (Sigmund Freud) 

Significance of the comic plots in Dr.Faustus

Significance of the comic plots in Dr.Faustus: Besides introducing the audience to the main tragic theme, Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus offers them a couple of comic scenes. Introduction of comic scenes in a tragedy became a well-fashioned convention in the Elizabethan period. Most of the famous dramatists tended to use them only to please the groundlings. They inherited it from the interlude tradition of the Medieval Miracle and Morality plays. Most of them failed to present them as the integral part of the play until Shakespeare came to harmonise the grotesque tragic-comic contrast of early Elizabethan plays. Though at first glance the comic scenes in Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus appear to be irrelevant and disconcerting to the main theme of the play, a close reading of the text testify to their relevance in the play. In short the comic scenes are important because firstly, they provide comic relief. Secondly, they throw additional light on the meaning of the tragic action. Lastly, they present a contrasting point of view when compared to main theme of the play. To demonstrate this, we have to analyse the comic scenes one by one.
                                                                                                                             In Act-I,sc-II, When Wagner perplexes the two scholars with his logic, he seems to imitate his master’s way of displaying knowledge through verbal jugglery. Here we see that the hero and his servant do not differ in their quality but in the extent their misdeeds.
                                                                                                    In Act-I,Sc-IV, Wagner is engaged in a debate with a clown and tries to befool him. He remarks on the poor condition of the clown saying, “he (clown) would give his soul to the devil for a shoulder of mutton”. Next Wagner invokes Devil to punish the clown. Here Wagner’s desire to get the clown as his servant echoes Faustus’ intention to get Mephistophilis as his servant. This scene thematically parallels and in a way mocks the main tragic action.
                                                                                                                              Next comic scene (Act-II,Sc-II) is the appearance of the seven deadly sins employed by Lucifer to entertain Faustus. Harry Levin describes these deadly sins a “quaint procession” and interprets Faustus’ unalloyed amusement as a sin of moral decay. Next comic scene (Act-III,Sc-I) is the assault of Pope in his privy chamber by Faustus. It reveals the antichristian spirit of the play which was fostered by Renaissance humanism. The prank of snatching the Pope’s cup from his lips is echoed at the end when Faustus sees Christ’s blood streaming in the firmament and longs in vain “for one drop to save his soul”.
                                                                                                                              Next comic scenes are Act-IV, Sc-II and Sc-III where Ralph and Robin steals goblet from the vintner and strive to practice necromancy with help of a book. Their activities parody all the mischief Faustus has done in his life.
                                                                                                                          According to Harry Levin, the comic under plots reduce the main plot into absurdity and the over-plot is luminously adumbrated, sketched as it were lightning against a black sky. Besides, the play may be a pertinent example of Victor Hugo’s formulation for western art – the intermixture of grotesque and sublime. The most important point that these comic plots run parallel with the main tragic theme and often parody it lead to Bakhtinian theory of Carnivalesque where the rational discourse of the authority is mocked and subverted by the marginal ones.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Dr.Faustus as a Renaissance Hero

Faustus as a Renaissance Hero: When Christopher Marlowe composed tragedy Doctor Faustus, England observed the fullest development of Renaissance, “the complex many sided movement”, in the words of Walter Pater, “in which, in various way, the human mind wins for itself a new kingdom of feeling and sensation and thought.” Doctor Faustus in various ways shows its origin deeply rooted in Renaissance aspiration. Faustus himself is a Renaissance man who sacrifices himself to liberate human aspiration from physical instrumentalities and constricting superstition. In this sense, “Faustus may seem...Icarian” (Robert N. Watson, Theory of Renaissance Tragedy: Dr Faustus). In the beginning of the play, chorus also describes the tragedy of Faustus with Icarian myth.
                                                                              As a Renaissance man Faustus rejects all the famous Medieval studies like – Aristotle’s logic, study of medicine, Justinian’s law, theology. These studies were not only unable to reveal the absolute truth, but also to place him in “...a world of profit and delight, / of power, of honour, of omnipotence”. He ultimately chooses sorcery which is “an extension of the emergent Renaissance Sciences” (Robert N. Watson). It involves ancient history, foreign languages, optics, navigation and astronomy, and, “...for exotic delicacies that may be exchanged for money and court favour”. So Faustus never chooses black magic on the basis of mere superstition. Instead he chooses it only to gain power and intellectual satisfaction. C. L. Barber in his creating Elizabethan Tragedy remarked “the heroic quality of magic depends on fusing this divine suggestion with tangible values and resources of secular world.”
                                                                    Renaissance spirit involves immense emphasis on man’s intellectual power and man can attain truth through the critical use of it. The same spirit we find in Faustus’ intense quest for knowledge and truth throughout the play. He questions Mephistophilis relentlessly on various subjects like astronomy, theory of creation etc. But his most important question (“Now tell me who made the world?”) asked to Mephistophilis remains unanswered.
                                                                    It was an age of exploration and discovery of new lands. Renaissance spirit consists in the spirit adventure and heroism. Renaissance hero Faustus too cherishes within himself an impetuous adventurous spirit. He not only plans to send his familiar spirit to “search the corners of the entire new found world”, but himself travels throughout the Europe visiting all the glorious creation of Man.
                                                                As a Renaissance man he is a worshipper of beauties. Actually what is beautiful is appreciated by Faustus. It may be the temple of St. Marks or it may be Helen of Troy. The beauty of Helen elicits from him the beautiful poetic speech: “Was this the face that launch’d a thousand ships,”
                                                                Instead of group sacrementalism, Renaissance religion tends towards personal or individual salvation. Reformation rejects all the meaningless rituals of Catholic Church. As its immediate effect we find in Doctor Faustus, poignant criticism of church in the speeches of Mephistophilis who denounced the “troop of bald-pate friars/ whose summum bonum is in belly-cheer”. Again marriage, a ritual ceremony of church, is severely criticised by Mephistophilis when he says,
“Marriage is but a ceremonial joy”.
                                                           Faustus, a Renaissance man, endeavours to gain limitless power and ultimately achieves it. But he does not know how to use it. That is why, his great ambition to glorify advance human civilization quickly fades. He uses his power to entertain the emperor with groceries and holography. Instead of turning man into God, he uses his magic  to turn his hecklers into beast. Thus Faustus’ tragedy represents the misdirected spirit of Renaissance which gave birth to some cheaters and tyrant who exploited science and navigation to pillage the foreign land. Learning became an instrument to please the monarch in the hope of honour and money and the production of beauty was exploited in the ostentation of power. Reflecting all these social corruption, “Dr. Faustus is a parable about spiritual loss in the modern world, a warning...about the fatal corruption awaiting all Renaissance aspiration.”   (Robert N. Watson, Theory of Renaissance Tragedy: Dr Faustus)