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The Alternative TrinityGnostic Heresy in Marlowe, Milton, and Blake$
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The late A. D. Nuttall

Print publication date: 1998

Print ISBN-13: 9780198184621

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198184621.001.0001

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Raising the Devil: Marlowe’s Dr Faustus

Raising the Devil: Marlowe’s Dr Faustus

(p.22) II Raising the Devil: Marlowe’s Dr Faustus
The Alternative Trinity

A. D. Nuttall

Oxford University Press

This chapter looks at a strange tragedy by the Elizabethan Christopher Marlowe. Marlowe's Dr Faustus — the story of the magician who sold his soul to the Devil for knowledge and power — looks at first sight like the text for the Old Historicist. Much of the drama of the period is nervous about theology, too conscious of its own secular frivolity to engage with the deepest elements in the Christian world-view; but Marlowe's play is frankly — thunderously — theological. Indeed, it would be hard to imagine a clearer case of a theocratic drama than this, in which the hero is taught the folly and wickedness of his presumption by being cast at the end into the fire of hell. Gnosticism and its connection with Marlowe's play are also discussed.

Keywords:   Christopher Marlowe, tragedy, Hermetists, play, Gnosticism, Old Historicism

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