Christopher Marlowe's <i>Doctor Faustus</i> and Nathaniel Woodes's <i>The Conflict of Conscience</i>

David Bevington

in The Oxford Handbook of Tudor Literature

Published in print September 2009 | ISBN: 9780199205882
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

 Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus and Nathaniel Woodes's The Conflict of Conscience

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This article focuses on the way in which Nathaniel Woodes's The Conflict of Conscience, offers a model for Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus in its post-Reformation story of a lapsed convert confronting the terrors of damnation. It argues that the dramatic excitement of Doctor Faustus as a play is intensely real even while we understand intellectually that only one outcome is possible. The dramatic excitement is indeed like that of The Conflict of Conscience, even if Woodes's play is poorly written by comparison. What both plays represent is the way in which English drama offered to Marlowe and to other late Elizabethan dramatists, including Shakespeare (especially in Macbeth), a potential for tragic greatness founded in the wrenching paradoxes of Calvinist theology.

Keywords: plays; post-Reformation; English drama; Calvinist theology

Article.  6120 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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