‘That’s hard’: Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus and the Trauma of Reprobation
Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus is generally treated as a soteriological riddle: is Faustus damned, and if so, when, and why? This essay argues that such approaches miss the overwhelming emphasis (in both surviving versions of the play) on Faustus’s reprobation. Faustus, instead of presenting a puzzle waiting to be solved, is better appreciated as an incomparable portrait of the experience of reprobate living. Even more, via its textual and performance history, Faustus sheds light on the collective and collaborative practices of real Renaissance actors and theatregoers coming to terms with the post-Reformation religious trauma they shared with the lonely doctor.
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