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Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus

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What does Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus tell us about the author and the time at which the play was written? This free course, Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus, will help you to discover the intricacies of the play and recognise how a knowledge of the historical and political background of the time can lead to a very different understanding of the author's intended meaning.

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • read closely – analyse a passage from the play
  • examine genre – what kind of play is Doctor Faustus?
  • consider themes – what are the main themes or issues explored in the play?
  • read historically – what are some of the connections between Doctor Faustus and the historical period in which it was written?
  • read biographically – what, if any, insights does Doctor Faustus give us into the character and reputation of its author?

By: The Open University

  • Duration 15 hours
  • Updated Monday 18th January 2016
  • Intermediate level
  • Posted under Literature
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Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus


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This course is on Christopher Marlowe's famous play Doctor Faustus. It considers the play in relation to Marlowe's own reputation as a rule-breaker and outsider and asks whether the play criticises or seeks to arouse audience sympathy for its protagonist, who sells his soul to the devil in exchange for 24 years of power and pleasure. Is this pioneering drama a medieval morality play or a tragedy?

This OpenLearn course is an adapted extract from the Open University course AA100 The Arts Past and Present [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

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