Conflict in Doctor Faustus

Christopher Marlowe’s play, its genre an English tragedy of the sixteenth century, presents the tragic conflict of the Faustus theme in the tradition of medieval morality plays. There are two kind of conflict in the play: one between rival views of nature of evil and the other between the choice of good and the choice of evil. The first is at its sharpest in the contrast in the first acts between Faustus and Mephistopheles; the second, in the play, soliloquies. Faustus’ initial obstinacy makes him persist in a heroic view of evil and renders him incapable of moral reflection. The concepts of good and evil in these plays and their psychological implications reflect a historical background in which the church dominates the ethical and moral concepts of their time. Faustus defies society’s norms and embraces the devil with courageous desperation, fully aware of the inevitable consequences, but incapable of being satisfied with his human limitations. Faustus in his soliloquy says

“If we say that we have no sin
We deceive ourselves, and there is no truth in us.
Why then, belike, we must sin,
And consequently die.
Ay, we must die an everlasting death.”

One of the most important and prominent themes in Doctor Faustus is by far the conflict between good and evil in the world and the human soul. Marlowe’s play set the precedent for religious works that were concerned with morals and suffering. In the play, Doctor Faustus is frequently accompanied by two angels, one good and one evil. Both spirits try to advise him on a course of action, with the evil one usually being more influential over his mind. These two angels embody the internal battle that is raging inside of Faustus. On one hand, he has an insatiable thirst for knowledge and supreme power; on the other hand, Faustus realizes that it is folly to relinquish heavenly pleasures for fleeting mortal happiness.

Although society is accustomed to believing that good will always prevails, evil gains the upper hand in Marlowe’s play. Innocent and often devout men are tortured at Faustus’s delight and command. He partakes in many pleasures with devils and is even shown the seven deadly sins in person. Thus, Faustus is depicted as doomed from the very beginning. Although he has moments of contrition, he quickly shoves aside thoughts of God and turns to evil. Marlowe attempted to express to his audience that while prayer and repentance are the paths to heaven, sin and mortal pleasure are very hard temptations to pass over.

Lucifer’s acquisition of Faustus’s soul is especially delightful for him because Faustus was once a good and devout soul. Even during his last moments on earth, Faustus curses himself for willingly burning the scriptures and denouncing God. In Doctor Faustus, Marlowe shows the reader that everything in the mortal world is a double-edged sword. In his never-ending quest for knowledge, Faustus exemplifies how even scholarly life can have evil undertones when studies are used for unholy purposes. Doctor Faustus’s miserable defeat against the forces of evil, within and without, enlightens the reader to beware a surfeit of anything.

The Caretaker Comedy of Menace

Comedy of Menace


Absurdism: doctrine that we live in an irrational universe
The term “comedy of menace” comes from the subtitle of one of David Campton’s plays, The  Lunatic View: A Comedy of Menace. A reviewer picked up on it and used it when writing about certain playwrights.
Comedy

A ‘comedy’ is a humorous play with elements of surprise, incongruity (things that don’t fit logically together), conflict, & repetitiveness that often leads the audience to expect one thing will happen, then delivers the opposite to amuse and make the audience laugh.
Comedy and tragedy are interwoven in The Caretaker. There are elements of humour at the beginning of the play, but as it progresses these turn towards tragedy.
Both Davies and Mick have comic elements to their characters, with Aston as the exception.
The comedy from Davies is unintentional. Through his characterisation of Davies Pinter introduces a visual comedic element, for example when Davies is chased around the room with no trousers on at the start of Act II, or when he tries on the shoes or smoking jacket. There is also a comedic element in Davies style of speaking. He is always very earnest and thinks a lot of himself. He doesn’t always follow what people are saying which leads to comic responses.
As the comedy disappears from The Caretaker, the mood of the play changes and the characters concentrate on their own survival.
Mick’s humour depends largely on the actor cast and their interpretation of the character. Mick baits Davies; it’s a performance which can sometimes be funny for example the monologues.
Violence and Menace/The Outsider

Menace (a threat or the act of threatening)
A ‘menace’ is something which threatens to cause harm, evil or injury; which doesn’t seem like a logical idea to fit with comedy.
Violence and menace are mostly below the surface of the play. Mick moves swiftly and silently and is an unpredictable character.
Davies threatens Mick’s relationship with his brother, and responds to his fear of authority by threatening violence
Aston is more of a victim of violence, his description of his treatment in hospital shows that the world beyond the room is now a threatening place.

But, in certain plays (like those by Campton & Harold Pinter, for example), it is quite possible for a playwright to create both humor and menace in the same play and even at the same time in the play (for instance, a character might joke about a bad situation he finds himself in, while he prepares a gun to deal with his situation – that is an example from one of the comedies of menace). The playwright’s objective in mixing comedy & the threat of menace is to produce certain effects (like set up dramatic tension or make the audience think a character is a weasel because they are acting nice or funny, but planning to do something evil) or to convey certain social or political ideas (for ex., don’t trust lawyers or politicians) to the audience.
Comedy of menace is a term used to describe the plays of David Campton, Nigel Dennis, N. F. Simpson, and Harold Pinter by drama critic Irving Wardle, borrowed from the subtitle of Campton’s play The Lunatic View: A Comedy of Menace, in reviewing Pinter’s and Campton’s plays in Encore in 1958. (Campton’s subtitle Comedy of Menace is a jocular play-on-words derived from comedy of manners—menace being manners pronounced with somewhat of a Judeo-English accent.)

After Wardle’s retraction of comedy of menace as he had applied it to Pinter’s writing, Pinter himself also occasionally disavowed it and questioned its relevance to his work (as he also did with his own offhand but apt statement that his plays are about “the weasel under the cocktail cabinet”). For example, in December 1971, in his interview with Pinter about Old Times, Mel Gussow recalled that “After The Homecoming [Pinter] said that [he] ‘couldn’t any longer stay in the room with this bunch of people who opened doors and came in and went out.
Quotation:
“ASTON comes in. He closes the door, moves into the room and faces MICK. They look at each other. Both are smiling, faintly.

MICK: (beginning to speak to ASTON). Look … Uh…
He stops, goes to the door and exits. ASTON leaves the door open, crosses behind DAVIES, sees the broken Buddha, and looks at the pieces for a moment. He then goes to his bed, takes off his overcoat, sits, takes the screwdriver and plug and pokes the plug.”

Davies: You can take it from me I’m clean. I keep myself up. That’s why I left my wife. Fortnight after I married her, no, not so much as that, no more than a week, I took the lid off a saucepan, you know what was in it? A pile of her underclothing, unwashed. The pan for vegetables, (Act I)

Davies: They (women) have sais same thing to me. Women? There’s many a time they’ve come up to me and asked me more or less the same question. (Act I)

Aston: They weren’t hallucinations, they… I used to get the feeling I could see     things… very clearly… everything… was so clear… everything used…     everything used to get very quiet… all this… quiet… and… this clear     sight… it was… but maybe I was wrong. (Act II)

Once asked what his plays are about, Pinter lobbed back a phrase “the weasel under the cocktail cabinet”, which he regrets has been taken seriously and applied in popular criticism:
“Once many years ago, I found myself engaged uneasily in a public discussion on theatre. Someone asked me what was my work ‘about’. I replied with no thought at all and merely to frustrate this line of enquiry: ‘the weasel under the cocktail cabinet’. This was a great mistake. Over the years I have seen that remark quoted in a number of learned columns. It has now seemingly acquired a profound significance, and is seen to be a highly relevant and meaningful observation about my own work. But for me the remark meant precisely nothing.”
David Wilbanks

“The Weasel Under the Cocktail Cabinet”
“The thing referred to is likely not reducible to a singel statement but will more probably involve a range of possible meanings and interpretations” — Foster (98)
While “the weasel under the cocktail cabinet” was famously used to answer the question “what are your plays about?” (Harold Pinter) I feel the same phrase aptly answers the question “What does this symbolize?” It’s whatever you want. Foster points out that if a symbol means only one thing, it is allegory rather than symbolism. Thus symbols, by their nature, are beholden to the reader’s interpretation. Any meaning you can think of is completely valid, provided it is meaningful. i.e has some sort of reason behind it. As Foster, and Dr. Jerz both frequently say, there is no big dusty book of literary meanings. If you want, and can find reason behind it, Moby Dick, Frankenstein’s monster, excalibur, the red ‘A’, that radio the proffessor made out of coconuts on Giligan’s island and the football that Lucy prevents Charlie Brown from ever kicking all represent the weasel under the cocktail cabinet.
Actually, the scarlet letter obviously represents the ferret under the sofa.

Language, Society And Culture

Factors Involved in the investigation of Social Dialect

Social Class And Education:
Leaving Educational system at early age
e.g. ( Them boys throwed somethin)
Spending long time in educational system
e.g. (Talks like a book)

Labov’s Theory:
Study of Labov (1972), looking sales people pronunciation differences in New York city at Saks, Macy’s and Klein’s departmental stores.
Use of more  /r/ Sound by higher and socio-economic status. (higher)
Fewer /r/ sounds produced by lower socio-economic status. (lowah)

Age:
Dialect Survey in a particular region shows that grandparents may use those terms which grand children do not.
e.g icebox, wireless (doesn’t use like to introduce reported speech)
e.g we’re getting ready, and he’s like

Gender:
Female speaker tend to use Prestigious form than male
e.g I done it—I did
e.g Women discuss personal feelings, experience, seeking connections while Male Non-personal topics and give advice on solutions, more competitive and concerned with power via language

Ethnic background:
An ethnic group (or ethnicity) is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture (often including a shared religion) and an ideology

Within any society differences in speech may come about because of Ethnic background
e.g African Americans known as BEV, Use frequent absence of copula, Double negative constructions, illogical structure
(He don’t know nothing, I ain’t afraid of no ghosts)

Idiolect:
In linguistics, an idiolect is a variety of a language unique to an individual. It is manifested by patterns of vocabulary or idiom selection (the individual’s lexicon), grammar, or pronunciations that are unique to the individual.
The term idiolect is used for the personal dialect of each individual speaker of a language.

Style:
Formal
Informal
Register:
Use in specific situations
Religious Register (Ye Shall be blessed by him)
Legal Register (The Plaintiff is ready to take the witness stand)

Jargon:
Technical Vocabulary associated with the special activity or group
“Don’t bother me know I’m juggling eggs”
Diglossia:
A major skill like pronunciation and grammar, to different varieties of language co-exist in a speech community (Arabic Language)

Language and Culture:
Linguistic variations are some times discussed as terms of cultural differences
Culture variation means “socially acquired knowledge” or cultural transmission by which languages are acquired

Worlds culture study become clear that different groups not only have different languages, they have different world’s views reflected in their languages
In very simple term, the Aztecs not only didn’t have a figure in their culture like “ Santa Claus”, they did not have a word for this figure either

Linguistic Determinism:
If two languages appear to have very different ways of describing the way of world is called linguistic determinism
Language determines thoughts (You can only think in the categories which your language allows you to think in)
Eskimos in English

The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis:
Edward Sapir and Benjamin Whorf produced arguments in 1930s that language of American Indians is different from other Europeans languages
Hopi Indians Tribes perceived differently from other English speaking tribes, distinction b/w animate and inanimate (Cloud, Stone)
Confusion b/w (animate, feminine, living, female—door, stone)

Language Universals:
All languages of the world have certain common properties, those common properties called linguistics universals and can be described with definitive feature of languages
Arbitrary symbol systems, noun like and verb components, set of sound patterns, Grammar, prepositions

Sociolinguistics:
Sociolinguistics is the study of the effect of any and all aspects of society, including cultural norms, expectations, and context, on the way language is used, and the effects of language use on society.

Sociology of Language:
Sociology of language focuses on the language’s effect on the society. It is closely related to the field of sociolinguistics, which focuses on the effect of the society on the language.
A sociology of language would seek to understand the way that social dynamics are affected by individual and group language use

Social Dialects:
Social Dialects are varieties of language used by groups defined according to class, education, age, sex, and a number of other social parameters.

Concept of Prestige:
In sociolinguistics, prestige describes the level of respect accorded to a language or dialect as compared to that of other languages or dialects in a speech community. The concept of prestige in sociolinguistics is closely related to that of prestige or class within a society. Generally, there is positive prestige associated with the language or dialect of the upper classes, and negative prestige with the language or dialect of the lower classes.

Language, Society and Culture
By: Muhammad Afzal & Zammad Aslam

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Linguistic relativity

The principle of linguistic relativity holds that the structure of a language affects the ways in which its speakers are able to conceptualize their world, i.e. their world view. Popularly known as the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis, or Whorfianism, the principle is generally understood as having two different versions: (i) the strong version that language determines thought and that linguistic categories limit and determine cognitive categories and (ii) the weak version that linguistic categories and usage influence thought and certain kinds of non-linguistic behavior.

The idea was first clearly expressed by 19th century thinkers, such as Wilhelm von Humboldt who saw language as the expression of the spirit of a nation. The early 20th century school of American Anthropology headed by Franz Boas and Edward Sapir also embraced the idea. Sapir’s student Benjamin Lee Whorf came to be seen as the primary proponent as a result of his published observations of how he perceived linguistic differences to have consequences in human cognition and behavior. Harry Hoijer, one of Sapir’s students, introduced the term “Sapir–Whorf hypothesis”, albeit infelicitous due to Sapir’s non-involvement with the idea and the term’s misleading use of hypothesis in a colloquial (i.e. non-scientific) sense. Whorf’s ideas were widely criticized, and Roger Brown and Eric Lenneberg decided to put them to the test. They reformulated Whorf’s principle of linguistic relativity as a testable hypothesis and conducted experiments designed to find out whether color perception varies between speakers of languages that classified colors differently. As the study of the universal nature of human language and cognition came in to focus in the 1960s the idea of linguistic relativity fell out of favor. A 1969 study by Brent Berlin and Paul Kay showed that color terminology is subject to universal semantic constraints, and the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis was seen as completely discredited.

From the late 1980s a new school of linguistic relativity scholars have examined the effects of differences in linguistic categorization on cognition, finding broad support for weak versions of the hypothesis in experimental contexts. Effects of linguistic relativity have been shown particularly in the domain of spatial cognition and in the social use of language, but also in the field of color perception. Recent studies have shown that color perception is particularly prone to linguistic relativity effects when processed in the left brain hemisphere, suggesting that this brain half relies more on language than the right one. Currently a balanced view of linguistic relativity is espoused by most linguists holding that language influences certain kinds of cognitive processes in non-trivial ways but that other processes are better seen as subject to universal factors. Current research is focused on exploring the ways in which language influences thought and determining to what extent. The principle of linguistic relativity and the relation between language and thought has also received attention in varying academic fields from philosophy to psychology and anthropology, and it has also inspired and colored works of fiction and the invention of constructed languages.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linguistic_relativity

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