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Why Dr Faustus is a Renaissance play? Which characteristics of Renaissance do we see in the play?

Dr Faustus is a Renaissance play because the protagonist (Dr. Faustus) almost represents a renaissance man as he crawls for knowledge, wealth, and unlimited power, and he sold his soul to Lucifer because of his ambition to achieve these characteristics. The aspiring mind can easily be seen in Dr Faustus. There is also a rejection of major fields, such as theology. This symbolizes main character’s break with medieval world. The characteristics of Renaissance, willingness to become knowledgeable, and secularism can be seen in the play.


The puns on the term “rich” refer to Lord Robert Rich, Stella’s or Penelope’s husband. The east (“Aurora’s court”) could refer to the Rich family estate, which was in the eastern county of Essex. This sonnet was omitted from the earliest printed edition of the sonnet sequence, perhaps because it was too direct, but it was added in the official folio edition.

Mouth watering is usually a sign of desire, and when one’s “breast doth swell” it is commonly a sign of being prideful. The itchy tongue thing could be a sign of being thirsty, but in context with the earlier line that his mouth is watering I would believe this means he is “itching to say something.”

“My thoughts in labor be” could mean that his thoughts are coming difficultly (laboriously) but I think it means that he is about to “give birth” to some of his thoughts, i.e. he is about to start speaking his mind.

Aurora, mythologically, is the Roman goddess of dawn. She is the one that makes the sun come up and the sun go down. A nymph is a female spirit that is usually attached to a certain location. In this context, a female spirit “lives” near where Aurora holds court. She is “superhot.” Words can describe how beautiful she is. “Abase” means to “bring down or reduce,” so the poet is saying that she is so gorgeous that men can’t find the words to describe her and are stuck saying that she “excels.”

She is very well known and well thought of, “deserved renown.” She is also very majestic in a “royal” way, holding herself regally. In short, she has many “treasures” beyond cash…she is a “larger than life” person with the attitudes of a great woman.

Sonnet 37 also uses images associated with pregnancy (for example, swollen breasts) to talk humorously about giving birth to his poetry. In this case, he gives birth to a poem in the form of a riddle for the court, the intended audience of the work, making this one of the few poems in the sequence whose intended audience is not the beloved. Though pregnancy is a female attribute, Sidney successfully appropriates the image for his own masculine purpose, and then proves to be more fertile than biological women, as he produces numerous poems.

Sonnet 37 is also significant because it is the first poem in Astrophil and Stella that actually refers to Penelope Devereux Rich, the model for Stella. Sir Philip Sidney here demonstrates that the abject lover is not as powerless as he might appear; indeed, he has power over the beloved because he writes (names) her. Sometimes the naming is not very flattering. For example, as he describes his tongue’s role in the creative process, “Rich” rhymes with “itch” (l. 2). Puns on the name Rich appear throughout the sonnet, reducing the beloved to material goods (commodification). She is the property of another man, and the lover is an upstart for pursuing her through his poems.

Mouth-watering is usually a sign of desire, and when one’s “breast doth swell” it is commonly a sign of being prideful.

Aurora, mythologically, is the Roman goddess of dawn. She is the one that makes the sun come up and the sun go down.

A nymph is a female spirit that is usually attached to a certain location. In this context, a female spirit “lives” near where Aurora holds court. Words can describe how beautiful she is.

“Abase” means to “bring down or reduce,” so the poet is saying that she is so gorgeous that men can’t find the words to describe her and are stuck saying that she “excels.”

She is very well known and well thought of, “deserved renown.” She is also very majestic in a “royal” way, holding herself regally. In short, she has many “treasures” beyond cash…she is a “larger than life” person with the attitudes of a great woman.

All these wonderful personality gifts make her world a “worldly bliss.” She has a good existence. She has no real bad luck, other than the fact that “Rich she is.

The woman that he is writing of Penelope Devereux. He was engaged to her for some time and she ended the engagement and married Lord Rich.


It was scene VI where seven deadly sins; Lust, Laziness, Gluttony, Pride, Greed, Anger and Jealousy introduce themselves to Faustus and tell him about themselves. Although Faustus faced his own deadly sins, even though reflection of his personality, he could not recognize them.

Pride

Faustus is not satisfied with the information available to him and as he knows God will not give him the answers on earth, he denies God’s law and sells his soul to Lucifer.

Greed

Faustus requests worldly things from Mephistopheles and he thinks temporary satisfactions are no different from what is promised by God.

Anger

Benvolio’s mockery of Faustus made Faustus so angry that he conjured a pair of antlers on Benvolio’s head. Old Man offered him to repent, but he became angry again and asked Mephistopheles to call demons to torture the Old Man to his death.

Jealousy

Faustus is jealous of the Pope, Emperor, Lucifer, and God for having unlimited power. He summons Mephistopheles hoping that he gains power like them.

Gluttony

At the end of his twenty-fourth year, Faustus is having a feast with his students ‘food and wine enough for an army’.

Laziness

Faustus summons Mephistopheles and signs the contract with Lucifer so that he can have knowledge, possessions and experiences on-tap without any effort on his part.

Lust

The Old Man begs Faustus to repent and call on God’s mercy. Faustus wastes his remaining time on lechery lust than taking Old Man’s advice. Instead, she tells Mephistopheles to summon Helen of Troy for her lover. She is simply a copy created by the demon, but Faustus tells her ‘rivals for your love can burn down Wittenberg in their longing to have you home’.

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