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TEXT ANALYSIS

Comprehension
Answer the following questions.
1) What does Faustus do at the beginning of the passage?
He speaks to himself and he hopes time may stop and midnight never come
2) What external event calls him back to reality?
The clock which strikes the hours (line 11)
3) How long does Faustus still have to live?
Only one hour
4) Whose help does he appeal for?
He appeals to all terrestrial things in order to avoid his future eternal life in Hell
5) Does he really repent?
No, he does not
6) Can you explain what Faustus means by his reference to Pythagoras' metempsychosis (line 42)?
He wants to be transformed into an inferior beast in order to avoid eternal damnation
7) What does he do in line 49?
He curses himself and Lucifer
8) Why does he say "I will burn my books"?
He is ready to give up his knowledge by burning the books about magic arts, but it is too late.
9) Does Faustus save his soul after all?
No, he does not.
Paraphrase:
At the beginning of the passage
Faustus speaks to himself and
hopes time may stop and midnight never come
The clock which strikes the hours
is the external event which calls him back to reality (line 11)
Faustus still has only one hour to live
He appeals to all terrestrial things
in order to avoid his future eternal life in Hell
he does not really repent
by his reference to Pythagoras' metempsychosis (line 42)
Faustus wants to be transformed into an inferior beast in order to avoid eternal damnation
then he curses himself and Lucifer
he says "I will burn my books" because
he is ready to give up his knowledge
by burning the books about magic arts, but it is too late.
Faustus does not save his soul
Character and Dramatic Technique
1) Concentrate on the use of stage directions: what kind of information do they provide?
they are related to the passing of time.
2) Faustuss soliloquy can be divided into the three parts where the clock strikes the time.
1. Faustus is obsessed by the passing of time and is afraid of eternal damnation: lines 1-31.
2. he appeals to Christ for help and curses his parents: lines 32-50.
3. he understands he will not be forgiven and he is taken away by the devils: lines 51-58.
3) The length of these three parts is different: can you find out the reason? Tick as appropriate.

Faustus perceives time subjectively because of his great anxiety: time seems to be faster when you wish it
went slower
4) In his soliloquy Faustus appeals to the surrounding world, heaven's bodies, time, God, Christ and Lucifer
looking for an impossible escape from damnation.
Pick out all these references in the passage and complete the table below. An example has been provided.
Addressee of Faustus's requests
stars (line 4)
the sun (line 6)
Lucifer (line 17)
mountains and hills (line 21)

Faustus's Wish
"stand still" in order to stop time
to rise again in order to make that day eternal
to spare him
to come and fall on him in order to hide him from God's
wrath
to gape and hide him
to draw him up and hide him
to impose an end to his pain and let him live in Hell for a
thousand years and then save him

earth (line 24)


stars (line 25)
God (lines 34, 37, 38)

5) In the last part of his soliloquy Faustus regrets being a man because he cannot avoid damnation.
Find a reference in the text.
Lines 51 - 53-54: Now body turn to air, / Oh soul, be changed into little water drops / And fall into the ocean,
ne'er be found.
6) Try to represent the evolution of Faustus's state of mind using the diagram below. Where does it reach its peak?
It reaches its peak at midnight when Mephistopheles takes Faustus away.
X = time
Y = progression from awareness to desperation
Y

11

11.30

12

Language and Meaning


1) There is frequent use of interrogative and exclamative sentences: what feelings do they convey?
They convey Faustus's fear, hope and desperation.
2) Try to explain the symbolic value of:
"blood" in line 14: blood is related to Christianity and redemption.
"books" in line 58: Faustus's knowledge.
3) List all the instances of hyperbolic speech you can find and state their functions.
Some examples can be found
in lines 4 5: Stand still, you ever-moving spheres of heaven, / That time may cease and midnight never come.
6-9: Fair nature's eye, rise, rise again, and make / Perpetual day. Or let this hour be but / A year, a month, a week,
a natural day,
21-22: Mountains and hills, come, come, and fall on me, / And hide me from the heavy wrath of God.
They all underline Faustus's wish for redemption and his desperation.
Contextualization
"Faustus is the typical Renaissance man": try to explain this statement referring to 3.6 and to 3.16.

Connection
Refer to Medieval drama ( 2.10) and to the Elizabethan ( 3.10) and explain why the play may be considered both
a morality play and a tragedy.
Student's activity.
Suggestions:
Doctor Faustus is considered a morality play because of its didactic aim,
but the protagonist is a typical Renaissance man
who wants to be the only maker of his own destiny.
He is presented to us during his fall, which is ambivalent since
he is aware both of his concrete triumph and
of his spiritual destruction
words, phrases and sentences from the text related to the passage of time:
The clock strikes eleven (line 1);
one bare hour to live (line 3)
perpetually (line 4)
stand still, that time may cease, and midnight never come (lines 5-6)
make perpetual day (lines 7 -8)
let this hour be but a year (lines 8-9)
O lente, lente currite noctis equi (line 11)
Time runs, the clock will strike (line 12)
The watch strikes (line 33)
Half the hour is past
twill all be past anon (line 34)
Let Faustus live in hell a thousand years, a hundred thousand, and at last be saved (lines 39-40)
The clock striketh twelve (line 53)
Faustus is obsessed by the passing of time and frightened at the thought of an eternity of damnation
division in 2 parts: each part is supposed to cover half an hour
1st part: 31 lines
2nd part: 18 lines possible reason:
the difference reflects F.s subjective perception of the passage of time which is typical of human psychology in
situations of great anxiety: time seems to run faster just when you wish it went slower
impossible ways F. thinks of to escape damnation:
1st part: stopping time, obtain God's mercy, metamorphosis into an element of nature.
2nd part: limited period of damnation, wish to be a sub-human creature
Faustus changes in the development of the play.
At the beginning he is so obsessed by desire for knowledge and worldly pleasures that he makes an agreement
with the devil;
but in the end he realizes the emptiness of his bargain which has brought him to final everlasting damnation.
In fact the dominant mood in the soliloquy is one of anguish and despair.
The Faustus who is speaking here is quite the reverse of the proud scholar who consorted with Mephistopheles in
the first act. The man who longed to be more than human is now desperately trying to become less than a man: he
is wishing to run into the earth / to be drawn up into the entrails of a labouring cloud / to turn into a foggy mist. He
implores to be changed into some brutish beast / little water drops
In short he goes through these stages: from a MAN up to SUPERHUMAN down to SUBHUMAN
language: Faustus' language is rich in refined imagery (lines 7,21-22, 24-25, 26-32, 45-48, 5758), conveys fear
and suffering (lines 4, 10, 13, 18,22, 38, 49, 60-63), is rich in literary and philosophical references (lines 5, 11,4446), shows religious knowledge (lines 1516, 37).
The frequent use of questions reinforces fear (lines 14, 19) and regret (lines 42-43).
The use of exclamation marks reinforces despair and hopelessness.

medieval elements
- the Faustus of the German book was a magician and a necromancer
- by refusing the place that was given to him at his birth, he committed what in the Middle Ages was considered as
one of man's worst sins: the sin of pride
- Hell is presented as a place of torment, physically made up of devils, adders and snakes - like all medieval
magicians who gave up their art, Faustus swears to burn his books
renaissance elements
- Marlowes Faustus is presented both as a necromancer but also as a scholar and a theologian
- in his longing for a new type of knowledge, he attempts to rebel against the limitations imposed upon man
-according to Renaissance New Learning, Hell is no longer a place of torments but anyplace where God is absent
-as a Renaissance scholar he used his books to rise from an anonymous existence towards individuality
the final just punishment refers to a typical medieval play : morality plays
Both in Marlowe's Faustus and in the morality plays there is the personification of abstract qualities and the
dramatic qualities lay in the struggle in man's soul.
So, doctor Faustus is considered a morality play because of its didactic aim, but the protagonist is a typical
Renaissance man who wants to be the only maker of his own destiny. He is presented to us during his fall, which is
ambivalent since he is aware both of his concrete triumph and of his spiritual destruction.
Possible comment
The final passage from Doctor Faustus shows the protagonist waiting in dread for the devil to come and take him
off to hell. Faustus is alone and seeks in vain to escape the trap that he has set for himself.
He realizes that his bargain has brought him to final everlasting damnation. He thinks of several ways to avoid
an eternity of damnation, in particular: in the first part of his speech he orders time to stop, then he vainly tries to
obtain God's mercy, finally he wishes he could be changed into an element of nature; in the second part he prays
to God to put an end to his damnation in the future, then he wishes he were a creature with no soul so that it
could not be taken from him.
His despair increases as time runs and he realizes that there is no escape for him. The passage of time dominates
this soliloquy. There are a lot of words, phrases and sentences related to time throughout the soliloquy and in the
stage directions; they show Faustus' obsession with the passing of time.
The increasing speed of time is conveyed by a simple but effective device: the first part of the speech consists of
31 lines and the second part of 18 lines only, although both of them are supposed to cover half an hour. The quick
passing of time may seem strange in reading, but the agony of the protagonist is so intense in these lines that the
reader is hardly aware of the fact that theatrical time and chronological time do not coincide.
Faustus' despair is also conveyed by his frantic turning to different sources of possible help: the sun, Christ,
Lucifer, mountains and hills, the earth, stars, God, Pythagoras' metempsychosis. Other elements that convey
anguish in his speech are the frequent use of questions and the use of exclamation mark.