DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH
GOVT. RAZVIA ISLAMIA COLLEGE
GOVT. RAZVIA ISLAMIA COLLEGE
Conflict is the essence and the soul of tragedy and it is born out of some motivating cause. This conflict may be on two planes, physical and spiritual plane. Hence there may be external conflict and internal conflict. The conflict generally occurs between the forces of two rival groups. The hero belongs to one of these groups and the conflict often takes the form of a battle, a conspiracy or the like. But the hero's heart and soul is the great battlefield for the internal or spiritual conflict. Two opposite thoughts, desires, emotions, loyalties, or affiliations may contend against each other in human soul giving rise to the most acute spiritual conflict.
Marlow's contribution to English drama was great and manifold. And one of his greatest is the introduction of the internal or spiritual conflict in the mind of his proud and ambitious hero in Doctor Faustus.
In the very first scene we find that Faustus is disappointed with all branches of knowledge like Physics, Philosophy, Law and Divinity as they are absolutely inadequate to serve his purpose. Finally he decides in favor of the black art of magic as
These metaphysics of magicians
And necromantic books are heavenly.
And he convinces himself that, ‘A sound magician is a mighty god’.
But Faustus' emotional attachment to the medieval doctrines of Christianity is too deep to be rooted out. Hence just after his final decision in favor of necromancy, he feels the prick of conscience and in this very scene the Good Angel and the Evil Angel make their first appearance. These two angels, in fact, represent the two aspects of human mind. The Good angel urges Faustus to shun that damned book and to read the scriptures. But the Evil Angel scores a victory by luring away Faustus with the assurance that by mastering the black art of magic Faustus will be Lord and Commander of the elements. In the second stage is depicted Faustus' pathetic struggle to escape his impending doom and damnation and his deep sense of helplessness. This is revealed when he confesses to Mephistophilis that:
When I behold the heaven, then I repent,
And curse thee, wicked Mephistophilis,
Because thou hast deprived me of those joys.
The two angels appear again, one urging him to pray and repent so that he may have God's mercy and the other tells him that he is a spirit, God can never pity him. Faustus, very sadly, realizes ‘My heart's so harden'd. I cannot repent’.
Again at the end of this very scene the conflict in his soul becomes very acute when Mephistophilis refuses to answer some of his questions. And the Angels appear to externalize his inner conflict. This time Good Angel's appeal has some effect on his mind. But the Evil Angel tells him that the devils will tear him to pieces if he listened to the voice of conscience. Realizing the critical situation, Lucifer himself, Beelzebub and Mephistophilis appear before him and finally warn him not to think of God so that there may not be any break of his bond. And Faustus has to submit to the demand of the Devil once more.
The spiritual conflict takes the most acute turn in the first scene of Act V, when the Old Man, the symbol of the good, appears before him. His was the last attempt to guide his step "unto the way of life". The acute mental tension is revealed forcefully in these lines:
Where art thou Faustus, wretch what hast thou done;
Damn'd art thou, Faustus, damned, despair and die.
In the closing scene we find the climax culminating into a terrible catastrophe. Faustus has realized that he is doomed to eternal damnation without the least hope of redemption. And when the final hour strikes, the Devil's disciples snatch away the agonized and trouble-torn soul of Faustus to hell to suffer eternal damnation.