Review –Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe

This is a review of Doctor Faustus, a Classic play written by Christopher Marlowe, in response to the Back to the Classics Challenge 2012 hosted by Sarah Reads Too Much.

Dr. Faustus,  the protagonist in the play was born in the town of Rhodes in Germany. He grew up in Wittenberg and attended the best schools including the university where he excelled in scholarly achievements and obtained his doctor of letters degree in divinity and matters of theology. He studied the bible and other religious books and could quote the Bible with an ease that surpassed that of a Priest. He as also well versed in the Arts and Literature and was familiar with the works of Aristotle, the Greek Philosopher and his contemporaries Doctor Faustus was so brilliant and famous over Germany for his exceptional acumen.

However, Doctor Faustus grew pompous as his fame spread. This in itself was not unusual. Great scholars the world over who have attained the heights of their scholarship, are noted for what is termed academic ego and so being egoistic and ambitious was expected of him. In Faustus case what made his ego so mind-numbing was that he guilty of the sin of hubris, pride against the gods.

Doctor Faustus, in his arrogance, equated himself above God and for one who was conversant with the tenets of the Bible started to dabble in necromancy. Through a blood pact with Lucifer himself, he sold his soul to him in order to again more wealth, power and control the universe. Christopher Marlowe depicts Faustus as a foolish man whose thirst for knowledge bordered on the insane; for with the power granted him by Lucifer, he was not able to do much except to indulge in debauchery and foolishness.

“But leaving this, let me have a wife, the fairest maid in Germany, for I am wanton and lascivious and cannot live without a wife” Act one Scene Five Lines 144-145

Faustus also used the power to conjure up spirits who were at his beck and call to supply him with women and good food and wine. He overreached himself in his pomposity, arrogance and hubris, so much that the heavens themselves or fate or destiny brought down his fall.

“swollen with self-conceit of a self-conceit

His waxen wings did mount above his reach

And melting, heavens conspired his overthrow

For falling to a devilish exercise

And glutted now with learning golden gifts,

He surfeits upon cursed necromancy (Chorus: Lines 20-26)

By curtain call, Faustus had gone stark raving mad and the devils tear him up from limb to limb, scattering his remains for all to see.

Doctor Faustus, as already said is a Five-Act morality play that teaches Christian virtues as against vices; thus in the play we have characters with names like Good Angel and Evil Angel who acts as Faustus’ conscience. We also have the vices, Pride, Envy, Covetousness, Wrath, Gluttony, Sloth and Lechery who parade their trades before Faustus to feed his soul. Mephistopheles, the right hand man of Lucifer is always on hand to ensure that Faustus does not stray from his chosen path of destruction.

I think the message of Christopher Marlowe who was considered a great playwright in the class of Shakespeare, the essence of man in the light of his gaining all but losing his soul to the devil? The fallibility or infallibility of man depends on the one flaw in his character that is likely to be a causative factor.

The language of the play is old English, but easy to understand and one cannot fail to wonder at the arrogance of Faustus whose speeches refer to himself in the first person singular narrative and in his own name.. The themes explored in the play are done in a humorous manner that belies the absurdities of Faustus.

Doctor Faustus is classified as a tragedy. Set in the 18th Century Elizabethan era, the play is an example of the definition of tragedy as outlined by Aristotle. According to the definition, tragedy or tragic situations can only occur to a man born of high repute, rise so high up, attain so high up, and achieve so high up to become master over all he surveys. Such a man must have a basic flaw in his nature or character that will make him fall from that pinnacle. And in most cases, that flaw must be of hubristic proportions, pride against the gods.

Sophocles explored this basic theme in his Oedipus where the fallibility of the protagonist was attributed to his harsh and rash temper.

Shakespeare also explores this basic theme in his tragedies, Julius Caesar, King Lear, Macbeth Coriolanus, etc.

Arthur Miller, the 20th Century American playwright contrasted Aristotle’s definition of tragedy in his classic play Death of a Salesman when he opines the tragedy of the Common Man as opposed to tragedy relating to a man of high of birth..

I will recommend Doctor Faustus to anybody who loves Elizabethan drama/literature.

Flashback on Febuary – Hello March

Alas, the month of February has ended and March has sailed in. What does this mean for me as a blogger of books? Like many New Year resolutions that do not see the light of day, I had intended to read more and review more in February, but this could not materialise for various reasons that may sound boring to you.

Nana Awere  Damoah, the author to watch out for, kindly gave me complimentary copies of his books, Excursions In My Mind and Through The Gates of Thought for review. The Secret to Detoxifying Your Life, by Mariska Tayor-Darko,  a motivational speaker, poet and  writer is also waiting to be reviewed by moi this March.

I guess I can safely say that I’m going to pay some serious attention to the two challenges I entered this year, Africa Reading Challenge and Back to the Classics Challenge 2012 . That’s all for now.

Flashback

I must admit that I did not do too well in February; oh yes, I must be honest with myself.  I could only review Empi Baryeh’s Most Eligible Bachelor, after winning a kindle copy through the author’s blog tour competition. So, those of you who could not read the review, (spoilers) do visit the blog for a peek.  I also did a couple of posts on some mundane events.

Even, though I could not do lots of reviews, I blogged avidly, visiting other blogs and commenting here and there. I should say I was sort of hibernating, waiting to get my blog face-lifted by my dear friend Kinna who says my blog lacks lustre and I should transfer to WordPress. I’m in stitches at this point, just waiting for her to complete this new image of a WordPress blog and give me that ‘in’ overhaul. I guess I can try on my own, though I would want to give Kinna that added joy. So there!

Oh yes! I tweeted too. Ha ha ha! New to me and so exciting!! Lol!

From my TBR list, I read some western thrillers –  Jeffrey Archer’s A Matter of Honour and False Impressions which I have no intention of reviewing except to say that I enjoyed them tremendously. You see, my reading life is a bit erratic, and by that I mean I read anything that catches my fancy any time, any day without advance planning. So, I had to put on hold my reading of Changes, by Ama Ata Aidoo, to read outside my reading list by reading Samson and Delilah, novel of love, betrayal and vengeance, by Francis Edmunds.

Needless to say, I’m trying to be more organised this March.

Ciao.

Review – Empi Baryeh’s Most Eligible Bachelor

Most Eligible Bachelor by Empi Baryeh

My oh my! I could not stop when I started yesterday till I had read the whole piece of raw chemistry and thundering passion between Lord Mackenzie and Chantelle Sah. Empi Baryeh’s Most Eligible Bachelor is a story of unbridled passion between Lord, a sinfully handsome construction tycoon managing the family business, with a reputation of a Casanova,  and Chantelle, a beautiful features writer with a society magazine, Odopa.

Chantelle’s past involved her fiance who had lied to her for the three years they had been together; and the lies had culminated into a disaster that had wrecked havoc with Chantelle’s life and emotional well being. On the eve of Valentine’s Day of that fateful year, Martin, her fiance had avoided a celebration dinner with Chantelle by informing her that he had been assigned to cover a story elsewhere. Being a reporter, she had believed him. The news of a lorry accident involving him and a lady he had taken along had disturbed her. She had been angry with him for deceiving her and he had also robbed her of a confrontation by his death. She had been pregnant and had been waiting for him to come back to hear the good news. These disturbing events had shattered Chantelle and she had lost the baby. It had taken her four years to heal or so she had thought.

With this background, when the editor of the Odopa  magazine that she worked for had detailed her to interview his ‘Lordship’ and the interview had been set for Valentine’s Day, Chantelle had been apprehensive, not wanting to be reminded of her hurts. She had not celebrated Valentine’s Day since four years when Martin had died.

Lord Mackenzie’s reputation also did not help matters at all. Being featured in the Odopa magazine meant a lot to him. He needed to correct all the negative publicity he had acquired over the years as a playboy. Winning the bid for the construction of the pitch of the Kumasi international airport would boost the image of the company further, having been ranked amongst the Ghana Club 100.This particular project was important since all the bidders were international companies  and Mackenzie construction was the only local one. Lord would leave nothing to chance to make sure that  he won the bid, even if this included correcting his image as a womaniser who lacked seriousness.

Haven read her articles in the Odopa magazine over time, he had come to love her writings and had been intrigued and hooked by the personality behind the writings and her photograph. Getting her to interview him on that fateful day had been easy and poor Chantelle had not been prepared for the sheer force of the chemistry that erupted between them when they met.

The passion rocked them both and Chantelle was lost and confused by the wave of emotions that threatened to disrupt her otherwise boring existence. Sex at first sight was what happened and what a wonderful sex it was. For once, she felt like a woman as Lord ravished her in the most skilful and considerate manner befitting a man who knew how to give pleasure as well as receive it.  Chantelle gave herself completely to this stranger, needing his warmth, his touch, his kisses and all that he was doing to her if only for the one night, to make her feel whole again and to make her feel her femininity.  The regrets would come later, dear Lord, but for now, she needed him so much. After that night, Lord Mackenzie was done for. Every pore of him oozed his desire for Chantelle;  it was the  gradual realisation that he was falling in love with her and he needed her to trust him that kept him on his best behaviour (so to speak) around her.

The regrets came, but in her heart, they fought for survival with her desperate need of him. His kisses and feather-touch had unsettled her in the deepest recesses of her womanhood and she craved for more. But Chantelle was astute enough to realise that she could be playing with fire; her past with Martin also did not allow her to trust Lord and so when he failed or omitted to tell her that the condom he had used on that fateful night had broken, especially in the light of  the knowledge that she was pregnant, she knew she had been fooled once again. Somehow, he just had not found the opportune time to tell her and after that Valentine’s Day when he had made sweet love to her, she had refused to take his calls. And now, she was hopelessly in love with Lord, even if she would not admit so. In her confusion, she turns to her twin sister Danielle, who urges her to go to Lord and forgive him for withholding vital information.

In the end, Lord declared his love for Chantelle on national TV and asked for her forgiveness, after he had called a press conference to announce the shortlisting of his company by the government for the construction of the airport. Needless to say, she forgave him and went over to his house where they made up with the most passionate love making starting from the shower and ending in his magnificent bed.  Hmm!

I daresay that Empi Baryeh is one of the first published if not the first Ghanaian female published romantic writer to to hit the stands. I think Empi is brave, yes, brave. She has broken through the myth surrounding romance and sex by coming out with a novel that freely highlights the relationship between a man and a woman in love who are not afraid to explore their attraction to each other and their sexuality, in vivid imagery. However, Empi’s description of the sex scenes in the novel is done in tasty yet simple language that is not offensive to the reader and her sensitivity to the Ghanaian culture is commendable. At the same time, she manges to create hot and tantalising scenes that has the reader gasping for more, just like her protagonists. I fell in love with Lord myself, and wish I had been Chantelle, if only to be the recipient of such tender touches and kisses.

The sentence structure of the novel is simple and yet rich, full of camaraderie among the characters, as depicted in the dialogue between Chantelle and her office colleagues and the special relationship between her and her twin sister, Danielle. Again Empi’s use of real life scenes and settings in the novel makes the story believable. The reader is transported through time and space to familiar sites in Ghana, following Lord and Chantelle as they kiss at the construction site at Dodowa and as the very air between them sizzles with unfulfilled desires lurking behind  anger at the National Theatre.

The characterisation of the protagonists gives the reader a sense of identity with them, evoking images of a one time hot interlude with an Adonis or a male figure with potent sexual virility or a woman with lethal sex appeal.

I think Empi has done a great job, though I have a problem with the issue of the condom. These days condoms hardly ever break. And I think that line is overused. It may be more plausible for Lord Mackenzie to be overtaken by his passion for Chantelle and make love to her without protection. However, one could argue that in this day of HIVs and STIs, it would be more prudent for Lord to use protection and break it in his haste thereby risk making Chantelle pregnant, than not to use it all, thereby sending a negative message out to readers. Again, having a condom on had just goes with the image of the Casanova – combat readiness in case of any eventuality.

I just love this novel. Below are my favourite lines:

I think you’re good-looking, and I’d love to wake up in your arms.

Then you don’t have anything to worry about.” He leaned in for another kiss. “Henceforth, you’ll be waking up next to me.”    Most Eligible Bachelor (Kindle Locations 4508-4513).

Copies of Empi Baryeh’s novel, Most Eligible Bachelor can be obtained at Amazon and Evernight Publishing

Hello world!

celestinereads is all about reading and reading and reading and deriving the greatest pleasure from it.  This blog is the medium for sharing, discussing and dissecting  all that I read. It’s also a blog that welcomes ideas, reviews and discussions from the world of book of lovers. There’s so much ideas floating round and it would be fun to deposit them all here for everyone’s pleasure. Thanks, and stay hooked!

Celestine.