Prospero and Doctor Faustus

Examines and compares the main characters in plays by Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare.

In both William Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest, and Christopher Marlowe’s play, “Doctor Faustus”, the principal characters, being Prospero and Doctor Faustus, respectively, equally employ elements of magic, conjuring, and the black arts to achieve the ends that they desire. This paper shows that, while Prospero is clearly reclaimed and ennobled at the end of Shakespeare’s work, Faustus, on the other hand, is seemingly damned to hell and certainly does not experience the esteemed return to power that Prospero enjoys. The paper explains that the difference has much to do with the genres of the plays and the positions of the characters. The Tempest is, by nature, a romance, which means that it is a fantastical work with a basically comedic ending, whereas Marlowe’s ‘Doctor Faustus is more properly considered a tragedy.
Also, at the end of The Tempest, Prospero ultimately lays his use of the black arts aside, for they have already served his purpose, saying Now my charms are all o’erthrown,/And what strength I have’s mine own (Shakespeare V, I). Indeed, part of the thing that makes Prospero a redemptive character is that he ultimately seeks to end his use of his objectionable powers, because he doesn’t need them now that the wrong that was done to him has been righted. Unlike Faustus, he does not cling to his powers for the purposes of status and exploitation once his goal of just vengeance has been achieved.”