This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Doctor Faustus, a talented German scholar at Wittenburg, rails against the limits of human knowledge. He has learned everything he can learn, or so he thinks, from the conventional academic disciplines. All of these things have left him unsatisfied, so now he turns to magic. A Good Angle and an Evil Angel arrive, representing Faustus' choice between Christian conscience and the path to damnation. The former advises him to leave off this pursuit of magic, and the latter tempts him. From two fellow scholars, Valdes and Cornelius, Faustus learns the fundamentals of the black arts. He thrills at the power he will have, and the great feats he'll perform. He summons the devil Mephostophilis. They flesh out the terms of their agreement, with Mephostophilis representing Lucifer. Faustus will sell his soul, in exchange for twenty-four years of power, with Mephostophilis as servant to his every whim.
In a comic relief scene, we learn that Faustus' servant Wagner has gleaned some magic learning. He uses it to convince Robin the Clown to be his servant. Before the time comes to sign the contract, Faustus has misgivings, but he puts them aside. Mephostophilis returns, and Faustus signs away his soul, writing with his own blood. The words "Homo fuge" ("Fly, man) appear on his arm, and Faustus is seized by fear. Mephostophilis distracts him with a dance of devils. Faustus requests a wife, a demand Mephostophilis denies, but he does give Faustus books full of knowledge. Some time has passed. Faustus curses Mephostophilis for depriving him of heaven, although he has seen many wonders. He manages to torment Mephostophilis, he can't stomach mention of God, and the devil flees. The Good Angel and Evil Angel arrive again. The Good Angel tells him to repent, and the Evil Angel tells him to stick to his wicked ways. Lucifer, Belzebub, and Mephostophilis return, to intimidate Faustus. He is cowed by them, and agrees to speak and think no more of God. They delight him with a pageant of the Seven Deadly Sins, and then Lucifer promises to show Faustus hell. Meanwhile, Robin the Clown has gotten one of Faustus' magic books. Faustus has explored the heavens and the earth from a chariot drawn by dragons, and is now flying to Rome, where the feast honoring St. Peter is about to be celebrated. Mephostophilis and Faustus wait for the Pope, depicted as an arrogant, decidedly unholy man. They play a series of tricks, by using magic to disguise themselves and make themselves invisible, before leaving. The Chorus returns to tell us that Faustus returns home, where his vast knowledge of astronomy and his abilities earn him wide renown. Meanwhile, Robin the Clown has also learned magic, and uses it to impress his friend Rafe and summon Mephostophilis, who doesn't seem too happy to be called. At the court of Charles V, Faustus performs illusions that delight the Emperor. He also humiliates a knight named Benvolio. When Benvolio and his friends try to avenge the
humiliation, Faustus has his devils hurt them and cruelly transform them, so that horns grow on their heads. Faustus swindles a Horse-courser, and when the Horse-courser returns, Faustus plays a frightening trick on him. Faustus then goes off to serve the Duke of Vanholt. Robin the Clown, his friend Dick, the Horse-courser, and a Carter all meet. They all have been swindled or hurt by Faustus' magic. They go off to the court of the Duke to settle scores with Faustus. Faustus entertains the Duke and Duchess with petty illusions, before Robin the Clown and his band of ruffians arrives. Faustus toys with them, besting them with magic, to the delight of the Duke and Duchess. Faustus' twenty-four years are running out. Wagner tells the audience that he thinks Faustus prepares for death. He has made his will, leaving all to Wagner. But even as death approaches, Faustus spends his days feasting and drinking with the other students. For the delight of his fellow scholars, Faustus summons a spirit to take the shape of Helen of Troy. Later, an Old Man enters, warning Faustus to repent. Faustus opts for pleasure instead, and asks Mephostophilis to bring Helen of Troy to him, to be his love and comfort during these last days. Mephostophilis readily agrees. Later, Faustus tells his scholar friends that he is damned, and that his power came at the price of his soul. Concerned, the Scholars exit, leaving Faustus to meet his fate. As the hour approaches, Mephostophilis taunts Faustus. Faustus blames Mephostophilis for his damnation, and the devil proudly takes credit for it. The Good and Evil Angel arrive, and the Good Angel abandons Faustus. The gates of Hell open. The Evil Angel taunts Faustus, naming the horrible tortures seen there. The Clock strikes eleven. Faustus gives a final, frenzied monologue, regretting his choices. At midnight the devils enter. As Faustus begs God and the devil for mercy, the devils drag him away. Later, the Scholar friends find Faustus' body, torn to pieces. Epilogue. The Chorus emphasizes that Faustus is gone, his once-great potential wasted. The Chorus warns the audience to remember his fall, and the lessons it offers.
About Doctor Faustus (Marlowe)
Marlowe lived in a time of great transformation for Western Europe. New advances in science were overturning ancient ideas about astronomy and physics. The discovery of the Americas had transformed the European conception of the world. Increasingly available translations of classical texts were a powerful influence on English literature and art. Christian and pagan worldviews interacted with each other in rich and often paradoxical ways, and signs of that complicated interaction are present in many of Marlowe's works. England, having endured centuries of civil war, was in the middle of a long period of stability and peace.
Yet magic continued to keep a hold on people's imaginations. she had turned the weakling of Western Europe into a power of the first rank. But as Christianity spread and either assimilated or rejected other belief systems. and some argue that Shakespeare's achievements owed considerable debt to Marlowe's influence. and man's relationship to both. and one of the most famous evolved around the historical person Johanned Faustus. the former still inherited a wealth of culture. learning. an economy in tatters. England was a Protestant country since the time of Queen Elizabeth I's father. Women in particular used a mix of magic and herbal medicine to treat common illnesses. and benign and ambiguous views of magic continued to exist in popular folklore. Drama was entering a golden age. The conceptions of scholarship further complicated the picture. England was vulnerable to invasion by her stronger rivals on the continent. England was a weak and unstable nation. a German astrologer of the early sixteenth century. outside the framework of Church practice and belief.Not least of the great changes of Marlowe's time was England's dramatic rise to world power. England's capitol was an important center of trade. Marlowe was a great innovator of blank verse. thought and tradition from the latter. and those who practiced it were excommunicated and killed. and north European superstition and magic. When Queen Elizabeth came to power in 1558. pronounced all sorcery to be the work of evil spirits. including the religious traditions of the Near East. These early beliefs about magic were inextricable from folk medicine. Augustine. Sorcery and magic were part of widespread belief systems throughout Europe that predated Christianity. In the fifth century CE. intellectual. Numerous Christian stories feature such bargains. When the young Marlowe came to London looking to make a life in the theatre. and demonology. The view of the sorcerer changed irrevocably. the heritage of classical Greco-Roman thought and institutions. The richness of his dramatic verse anticipates Shakespeare. and artistic importance became still greater. and art. but he . perhaps the most influential Christian thinker after St. to be crowned by the glory of Shakespeare. poised to become the mightiest nation in the world. religion. As time passed. Christianity was a mix of divergent and often contradictory influences. Marlowe took his plot from an earlier German play about Faustus. a sorcerer could give his soul to the devil instead. six years before Marlowe's birth. As this new Christian folklore of sorcery evolved. especially after the Renaissance. and unstable leadership. Doctor Faustus is a play of deep questions concerning morality. certain motifs rose to prominence. Tamburlaine. Paul. Henry VIII. unrhymed lines of iambic pentameter. Torn by internal strife between Catholics and Protestants. to distinguish it from the good "magic" of Christian ritual and sacrament. Like the earlier play. Magic was devil-worship. receiving in exchange powers in this life. The Protestant Reformation did not include reform of this oppressive and violent practice. St. mystery religions. By the time of Elizabeth's death in 1603. as London continued its transformation from unremarkable center of a backwater nation to one of the world's most exciting metropolises. Some of these subjects blurred the lines between acceptable pursuit of knowledge and dangerous heresy. alchemy. here and now. Scholars took into their studies subjects not considered scientific by today's standards: astrology. the city's financial. practitioners of magic came to be viewed as evil. Once Christ was rejected. Although theological and doctrinal differences existed between the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church.
and possesses a thirst for knowledge. destroyer. Faustus decides to sell his soul to the devil in exchange for earthly power and knowledge and an additional 24 years of life. Faustus is a scholar of the early sixteenth century in the German city of Wittenburg. Faustus is the absolute center of the play. Doctor Faustus's composition may have immediately followed Tamburlaine. and the devil who serves Faustus for 24 years. liar. though possibly with some censorship. participating at every . The chronology of Marlowe's plays is uncertain. Mephostophilis (also spelled Mephistopheles. In lore.transformed an old story into a powerhouse of a work. Faustus' name has become part of our language. and tophel. He is arrogant. or alternately any choice with short-lived benefits and a hell of a price. mephitz. "Faustian bargain" has come to mean a deal made for earthly gain at a high ethical and spiritual cost. In Marlowe's play. neither during Marlowe's life. although not the last. who seems to have reached the limits of natural knowledge. which has few truly developed characters. He admits that separation from God is anguish. Character List Faustus Himself He sells his soul to the devil Faustus A brilliant man. Two versions of the play were printed. The 1604 version is shorter (1517 lines). and is capable of fear and pain. A devil of craft and cunning. The 1616 version is longer (2121 lines). or Miphostophiles. fiery. the great German writer Johann Wolfgang van Goethe gave the story its greatest incarnation in Faust. In the nineteenth century. or may not have come until 1592. The Penguin Books edition used for this study guide uses the longer B text as the basis while incorporating sections of A that are recognizably superior. and until the twentieth century was considered the authoritative text. one that has drawn widely different interpretations since its first production. He proceeds to waste this time on self-indulgence and low tricks. But he is gleefully evil. Mephostophilis has layers to his personality. Faustus is familiar with things (like demon summoning and astrology) not normally considered academic subjects by today's universities. Twentieth century scholarship argues that the B text (of 1616) is in fact closer to the original. He possibly was created for the Faustus legend. Marlowe's Doctor Faustus is first great version of the story. but the additions were traditionally thought to have been written by other playwrights. As an intellectual. He is the devil who comes at Faustus' summoning. Mephostophilis From the Hebrew. and also called Mephisto) seems to be a relative latecomer in the recognized hierarchy of demons.
He is the chief character in a number of scenes that provide comic relief from the main story. He appears at a few choice moments in Doctor Faustus. Lucifer Satan. Wagner Servant to Faustus. Some traditions say that Lucifer was Satan's name before the fall. He steals Faustus' books and learns how to summon demons. although scholars think now that this section was not written by Marlowe. who teaches him the dark arts. Good Angel and Evil Angel Personifications of Faustus' inner turmoil. Valdes Friend to Faustus. who teaches him the dark arts. and Marlowe uses "Lucifer" as Satan's proper name. and that devils can influence human thoughts. A powerful demon. he also encourages Faustus to waste his twenty-four years of power. "Lucifer" original meant Venus. In Christian lore. At the end of the play. referring to the planet's brilliance. while the Fathers of the Catholic Church held that Lucifer was not Satan's proper name but a word showing the brilliance and beauty of his station before the fall. He appears only in Act One. The Seven Deadly Sins Personifications of the Seven Deadly Sins. . Their characters also reflect Christian belief that humans are assigned guardian angels.level in Faustus' destruction. he seems concerned about his master's fate. Not only does Mephostophilis get Faustus to sell his soul. Belzebub One of Lucifer's officers. He appears only in Act One. not acts but impulses or motivations that lead men to sinful actions. They array themselves in a pageant before Faustus. who give differing advice to him at key points. Cornelius Friend to Faustus. Clown / Robin Robin learns demon summoning by stealing one of Faustus' books. Lucifer is sometimes thought to be another name of Satan.
and far from holy. He serves the Pope. selected by the German emperor and representing the conflicts between Church and state authority. Bruno A man who would be Pope. Charles The German Emperor.Dick A friend of Robin's. She treats Robin and his friends kindly. Raymond King of Hungary. he summons Mephostophilis. Faustus swindles him. He is one of the characters peopling the few comic relief scenes. Martino . The Pope Yeah. Rafe A horse ostler. With the Clown. or groomer. Hostess An ale wench. that Pope. Marlowe depicts him as cruel. Vintner A wine merchant or a wine maker. Faustus swindles him. and friend to Robin. This Vintner chases down Robin and Rafe after they steal a silver goblet from him. Faustus plays some cheap tricks on him. power-mad. who is none too pleased to be called. Horse-Courser A man who buys Faustus' horse. In a move that would have pleases his Protestant audience. Carter A man who meets Faustus while carting hay to town. Faustus performs at his court.
The axis of this theme is the conflict between Greek or Renaissance worldviews. When Faustus humiliates him. Duke of Vanholt A nobleman. While the Christian worldview places man below God. Friend to Benvolio and Frederick. Faustus fetches her grapes in January. Major Themes Man's Limitations and Potential The possible range of human accomplishment is at the heart of Doctor Faustus. Frederick Knight in the court of the German Emperor. . and for his good deed. An Old Man A holy old man. When Benvolio seeks revenge against Faustus. When Benvolio seeks revenge against Faustus. he seeks revenge. Friend to Martino and Frederick. Faustus performs illusions at his court. Benvolio Knight in the court of the German Emperor. Duchess of Vanholt A noblewoman. and many of the other themes are auxiliary to this one. Frederick decides to help out of loyalty. but man has nobility that no deity can match. Faustus initially thanks him. As Europe emerged from the Middle Ages. He tries to save Faustus by getting him to repent. Faustus sends devils to harm the Old Man. Darius. and the Christian worldview that has held sway throughout the medieval period. contact with previously lost Greek learning had a revelatory effect on man's conception of himself. For the Greeks. Saxony A man attending at the court of the German Emperor. Friend to Martino and Benvolio. Paramour. But later. and Helen Faustus' illusions. Spirits in the shapes of Alexander the Great. Martino decides to help out of loyalty. man defies the gods at his own peril. the Greek worldview places man at the center of the universe. and requires obedience to him.Knight in the court of the German Emperor.
flesh and spirit are divided to value the later and devalue the former. and so he leaves behind the Christian conceptions of human limitation. and must therefore be saved by the gift of grace. men are fallen since birth. while failing to look after the state of his soul. and the man who forgets that fact deprives himself of the path to salvation. and the pleasure it can provide him. because they carry with them the taint of original sin. becoming increasingly petty and low. an eternal hell in Mahayana Buddhism would contradict Buddhist beliefs about transience and the saving power of Buddha's compassion. . and to this day eternal hell and eternal heaven remain an important feature of Christianity and Islam. For example. chafes at the bit of human limitation. Faustus goes quickly from pride to all of the other sins. Moslems adapted a similar conception of hell and heaven. through Christ. A men made haughty with pride forgets that he shares Eve's sin. He seeks to achieve godhood himself. While Westerners now take this conception of being for granted. and ends ironically with the proud man's abasement. He does not stop there. arguable the one that leads to all the others. Damnation Damnation is eternal. Faustus' problem is that he values his flesh. Faustus' first great sin is pride. While Buddhists and Hindus have hell in their belief systems. while retaining belief in life after death. Pride. but again this belief's uniqueness needs to be appreciated.Doctor Faustus. for the most part in neither religion is hell considered eternal. While the Jewish view of the afterlife was somewhat vague. Nor is the flesh/spirit divide necessary for belief in the afterlife: both Hindus and Buddhists conceive of the human entity differently. For Christians. and Sin Pride is one of the Seven Deadly Sins. the flesh/spirit divide is not a feature of many of the world's major belief systems. Christians developed the idea of judgment after death. pride is a lethal motivation because it makes the sinner forget his fallen state. scholar and lover of beauty. Though he fancies himself to be a seeker of Greek greatness. Reflecting the Christian view. pride gives rise to all of the other sins. can dispense this grace. but Christians adapted the divide into their own belief system. we see quickly that he is not up to the task. In Christianity. Eternal hell is another concept that Westerners take for granted as part of religion. Flesh and Spirit The division between flesh and spirit was stronger in Greek thought than in Hebrew thought. Only God. Within the Christian framework.
Due to his great talent. Even after signing away his soul to the devil. all that is necessary to be saved from eternal damnation is acceptance of Jesus Christ's grace. While Faustus has learned much of the Greek world's learning. This gap between high talk and low action seems related to the fault of valuing knowledge over wisdom. Scenes 1-2: Summary: Prologue. but separation from God's love. But alluding to the story of Icarus. Talk and Action Faustus is. But once he has committed himself to his own damnation. in Rhodes. Because of this weakness. Germany. he has not really understood what he's been reading. . and vital understanding gained too late to save him. but the tale of Faustus. He has begun to study necromancy. His opening speeches about the uses to which he'll put his power are exhilarating. When he came of age he went to Wittenberg to live with relatives and study at the university.2-end of the play). beautiful when he speaks and contemptible when he acts. If Faustus dies without repenting and accepting God. This is the man now sitting in his study. or great deeds. Mercy. The Chorus announces that the story will not be wars. he will be damned forever. hell is not merely a place. but he lacks the internal strength to follow through on his purported goals. (See analysis of 5. possibly rejecting it for his own thematic purposes. He can talk about potential and plans in terms of a Greek worldview. Valuing Knowledge over Wisdom Faustus has a thirst for knowledge. the Chorus says that Faustus' "waxen wings did mount above his reach" (l. Faustus' thirst for knowledge is impressive. As we learn from Mephostophilis. he quickly completed his studies and became a doctor of divinity. love affairs in royal courts. but once he gains near-omnipotence he squanders twenty-four years in debauchery and petty tricks. Marlowe plays with that idea. the black arts. 21). Faustus cannot use his knowledge to better himself or his world. but so is heaven.Not so in Christianity. Salvation. with no exceptions. and Redemption Hell is eternal. but it is overshadowed by his complete inability to understand certain truths. While Christianity seems to accept even a deathbed repentance as acceptable for the attainment of salvation. He ends life with a head full of facts. Faustus has the option of repentance that will save him from hell. known for his brilliance in theological matters. Chapters 1-2 Prologue and Act One. and loves magic more than theology. but he seems unable to acquire wisdom. Faustus was born of ordinary parents. Act I. Faustus seems unable to change his course. For a Christian.
but the Second Scholar says that they must do what they can. He reasons that all men sin. He has mastered this art and achieved its goals already. he still has no power over life and death. A Good Angel and Evil Angel enter. The angels exit. Sitting alone in his study. Faustus' servant Wagner enters. Law. The scholars are horrified. Faustus thrills at the thoughts of the strange wonders he'll perform with his sorcery. Wagner leaves. because Valdes and Cornelius are well known to be necromancers. but unlike Greek tragedy the Chorus in this play is not an integrated character. But with the help of magic. The Good Angel tells Faustus to put the evil book of magic aside. Valdes and Cornelius. They spot Wagner. Faustus can become a demi-God. and so all men must die. Justinian: Faustus considers law a field with a petty subject.7) he says disdainfully. mocking the language of scholars. The First Scholar worries that nothing can help Faustus now.1. Faustus declares that the advice of his friends will be helpful in the pursuit of magic. and in particular loves making allusions to Ovid throughout . They decide to go to inform the Rector. He turns to magic. and Faustus bids him summon his friends. and alludes to the story of Icarus. the Carthaginians. up the point that the story starts. He tells them that their advice has won him over: he will practice the magical arts.1." He bids Divinity farewell. and that all men sin. Cornelius tells him that his learning is sound foundation for necromancy. Cornelius suggests method. an homage to Greek tragedy. Marlowe was well versed in the Latin authors. The Chorus mentions the god Mars. Scene 1. the Battle of Thrasimene. It acts instead like a narrator. He will also pursue magic because he has realized it is the only subject vast enough for his mind. In likewise fashion he considers other disciplines. and the Evil Angel tells Faustus to pursue magic will lead to power on earth. appearing only at the beginning and end of the play. The lines are delivered by a Chorus. personified in the codifier of Roman law. Medicine. But when he reads "to dispute well logic's chiefest end" (1. Valdes suggests some books. and ask the location of Wagner's master. "Affords this art no greater miracle?" (1. Cornelius and Valdes enter.9). and thinks that Faustus brilliance combined with their experience will make them all lords of the earth and the elements of nature itself. he points out that even kings' powers are limited within territories. and with magic they will be able to find hidden treasure in the seas and earth. sera. He vows to conjure that very night. Wagner toys with them. Wagner goes.2. Analysis: The Prologue gives us Faustus' biography. Two scholars wonder where Faustus is. Valdes is delighted. Delighted by the art. Divinity: Faustus reads in different places that the reward of sin is death. personified in the ancient physician Galen: though Faustus has become a great physician. and Faustus invites them to dine with him. The Prologue makes prominent mention of the classical world. personified in Aristotle. Faustus considers the different fields of knowledge. before finally telling them that his master is with Valdes and Cornelius.1. and dismisses this doctrine as "Che sera. He considers logic.Scene 1.
He seeks deification. foremost of which is separation from God's love. Coudst thou make men to live eternally. Christian theology. who wept when there were no more lands to conquer. Resurrection of the dead is for Christ. According to the Christian tradition. though by him "whole cities have escaped the plague. He also rejects. The limitation of man is a central theme of the play. The young man plunged to his death.his plays. as pride is arguably the mother of all other sins. power over life and death belongs to God.21-2). This sin is Faustus' greatest transgression. The allusion to the story of Icarus foreshadows Faustus' own fate. could not have believed that a rebellion against God could succeed. ignored his father's warning not to fly too close to the sun. and now he has moved on to magic. He does not wish to be constrained by human limits. and the wax binding the wings melted. (The Scholastic tradition sought to combine pagan learning and methods. replicating the sin of Satan himself. Like Alexander the Great. / Or being dead. Faustus' goals are a warped form of classical thoughts about human potential. The story has become a symbol for hubris. raise them to life again. Faustus wants supernatural power: "Yet art thou still but Faustus and a man. The sin of pride is an important theme of the play. Serving others. is not enough.e. His condemnation of medicine is telling: Faustus is not pleased by his accomplishments as a physician. i. Then this profession were to be esteemed. but defied God and led a rebellion in heaven. He therefore is unsatisfied with being mortal. / And thousand desperate maladies been cured" (1. Faustus is not interested in this kind of salvation. Icarus ignored the order. with the revealed [given by divine revelation] knowledge of the scriptures. but that brilliance has made him impatient with human learning. i. Faustus cannot be satisfied with anything less than the absolute. reason and philosophy. The Chorus tells us that the young man is brilliant. as a physician. in Milton's famous line for Satan: "Better to rule in Hell than to serve in Heaven. Saving lives is not enough. Satan's sin was not that he tried to replace God. even if it means the agonies of hell. had devoted considerable attention to the nature of Satan's sin. Within the Christian belief system. but that he sought an independence from God. particularly in the medieval Scholastic tradition. and the theme is seen by the late of both classical and pagan worldviews. death has already been conquered.) Christian theologians had a high estimate of angelic intellect and judgment. If the rediscovery of classical learning in the Renaissance led to . and the danger of overreaching the limits of man. He seeks a base. This attitude was summed up much later.e. Faustus' problem is that he refuses to accept limitation on human potential. a power apart from God's and not subject to him. No form of knowledge is satisfactory to him. earthly mortality." Faustus is expressing a deeply sacrilegious thought. on every count. Faustus' long soliloquy is a revealing introduction to the character. Icarus. Faustus' sin parallels that of the archfiend." Satan seeks an existence apart from God's dominion. and his dissatisfaction comes from pride. many of them argued. who escaped from an island tower with the help of artificial wings crafted by his father Daedalus. and through God's grace even a sinner can be reborn. inherited from the classical Greek and Roman thinkers.. Satan and his angels were defeated and cast into hell. Satan originated as one of the angels. subject to the laws of nature and God. the fundamental values of Christianity. Satan. Through Christ's sacrifice. e. and within God's power at the end of time.1.g. Faustus has been spoiled by his own gifts.
On one hand. Faustus is mocking everything that's sacred.3. even as we are being shown clear signs of his moral shortcomings. / We deceive ourselves. He commands Mephostopholis to depart. and there is no truth in us" (1. and who refuses to accept humble human limitations. as his . laughing. Wagner's mockery of scholarly language is in prose. As in many of Shakespeare's plays.23.2. the one at home with the wonder and strength of Greek humanity. and provide relief from the serious topic of damnation.42) . as in Greek tragedy.1. as his Biblical quotes in Latin are followed by his Latin interpretation: "Che sera. "If we say that we have no sin. But in the Christian worldview. as opposed to blank verse. and the audience is laughing along with him in his sacrilege. Faustus is being funny. a human being can be tragically flawed and retain his nobility. Enter Lucifer and Four Devils. We are being charmed by Faustus. Ignoring the forgiving aspect of Christianity suits Faustus' temperament: to be forgiven. Later. Faustus will fall far short of these goals. The gods of the Greeks can be made to seem petty and cruel. and we have already seen that Faustus rejects all such limitation. Faustus takes the selected passages from scripture. he considers the words. Faustus paints a picture of a sour and dour Christianity. This Faustus is the classical Faustus. Scenes 3-5: Summary: Scene 1. He is able to write it off. and makes them appear comic.1. is a terrible sinner. While human beings can still overreach themselves in the Greek worldview." Marlowe's writing here produces some very complicated effects. Even when the gods are depicted piously in Greek tragedy. and often seem to be personifications of the indifference or downright hostility of nature. quoting Romans 6. they do so in a moral framework quite different from that of Christianity. not to mention impious. Faustus' shortcoming is that he values knowledge over wisdom. Marlowe switches to prose for Wagner to suggest the course nature of the speaker. The lines are from the First Letter of John.new appraisals of human potential. he describes the wondrous feats he'll perform with magic. performing the necessary incantations to make Mephostophilis appear. sera. When he reads "The reward of sin is death" (1. and Faustus omits the very next passage: "If we confess our sins. His picture of Christianity is clearly biased and selective. a man who defies God.40). he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1. but he can only hold to his views because of imperfect or selective understanding. In an exuberant speech. Faustus invokes them. The play makes Faustus impressive. his laconic "That's hard" usually gets a laugh from the audience. one must subject himself to God. In 1. Act I. On the other hand. Chapters 3-5 Prologue and Act One. When he thinks about divinity.9). And by putting that together with the passage from the First Letter of John. Doctor Faustus reveals tension between the classical view of humanity and the Christian. But Wagner's lines are funny.
Scene 1. Mephostophilis exits.3. The Good Angel and Evil Angel appear again.5. during which the Clown refuses to serve. for true hell is separation from God. and he cannot serve Faustus without his lord's leave. in hopes of winning the profaner's soul. Mephostophilis informs him that his master is Lucifer. Keeping alive the threat of summoning the demons again. Faustus asks Mephostophilis why the devils want his soul. and the Evil Angel telling him to think of wealth. When Faustus hears that they are banished to hell. The devil came of his own will. and the impressed Clown follows him. The devil informs Faustus that Lucifer was once an angel. and begins to give orders. he'd sell them. Mephostophilis asks Faustus' will. He denies judgment after death.4. exhorting Faustus to sign away his soul in a contract written in his own blood. which "strike a terror to my [Mephostophilis's] fainting soul" (1. telling him to take lessons from Faustus when it comes to manly fortitude. with Mephostophilis in complete obedience to his whims. asking if in exchange for service he can learn to summon devils. In soliloquy. So do all devils make haste at the sound of sacrilegious magic. He begs Faustus to leave him alone with these questions. so he can tickle the slits of women's skirts. Wagner offers the clown some money. The Clown tries to give the money back. He thrills at the power he'll soon have. beloved of God. Faustus exclaims that even if he had "as man souls as there be stars" (1. He bids Mephostopholis fly down to Lucifer to tell him that Faustus is ready to sell his soul.92). Scene 1. Baliol and Belcher. and the clown bawdily says that he would like to be flea. Faustus chides the demon. who by aspiring pride and insolence earned banishment from heaven. he becomes curious: how can Mephostophilis be before him now. the Good Angel telling him to think of heaven. when Faustus demands that the devil serve him. and the . When the Clown takes the money. The Clown replies that the mutton would have to be cooked and with good sauce. Wagner sees the acceptance as compliance to servitude. Faustus is all too eager to swear allegiance to Lucifer. Wagner take the devils away. and he asks Mephostophilis a series of questions. Wagner promises that he will teach the Clown how to change himself into an animal. outside of hell? The devil informs him that he is always in hell. He jests that the Clown's poverty would compel him to sell his soul for a raw shoulder of mutton. In exchange he wants twenty-four years of power and luxury.3. and the Clown obeys. and seems intent on making the Clown his servant. Faustus is delighted at the creature's obedience. when he heard Faustus' profane incantations. When the devil departs to change his form. It was not Lucifer who charged Mephostophilis to appear. Wagner sees a poor Clown. Wagner bids the Clown to follow him. After some banter. The thought of wealth makes up Faustus' mind.82).devilish form is too ugly to attend on Faustus. The devils with Lucifer in hell are those who conspired with him against God. He is to return in the guise of a friar. The terrified Clown agrees to serve Wagner. Wagner summons two devils. unable to decide whether he should sell or keep. Mephostophilis returns. Faustus seems to be having second thoughts. To break the Clown's resistance.
. asking where it is. The devil does not come because the incantations have power over him. While Mephostophilis is gone to fetch the fire to liquefy his blood again. because true . He questions Mephostophilis about hell. When Faustus addresses the invisible beings of hell. . the devils will have his soul. the inscription "Homo fuge" ("Fly. nor is circumscribed / In one self place" (1.127-129). when all the world dissolves / And every creature shall be purified. dance. Mephostophilis returns. bedeck him in riches. The message disturbs Faustus. Faustus asks for knowledge: he demands books on all manner of incantations. Analysis: Marlowe makes the summoning scene more effective by placing the devils onstage from the start. till experience change thy mind" (1.42). Mephostophilis' reply is chilling: "Ay. Faustus wonders if his very blood is trying to stop him. and Faustus signs. but Mephostophilis leaves and fetches devils to delight him. oh man") has appeared. he'll bring him many different women. but Faustus can't seem to grasp what the devil is saying about the nature of hell.5. Their presence emphasizes what Mephostophilis tells Faustus moments later: devils eagerly wait for people to call on them.5. Faustus declares the terms of the agreement. after twenty-four years. think so still. the audience sees those creatures there in the flesh. he revels in the power he thinks he has: "Now. Faustus seems unable to understand the forces with which he deals. Mephostophilis brings him a devil dressed as a woman. The deal is done. On his arm. and dismisses hell as a fable.1245). invisible. and Mephostophilis provides all of this on demand. and tells him that rather than bring him a wife. When he questions Mephostophilis about hell. astrology. He comes because the sorcerer is ripe prey. He doesn't seem to understand the implications of what Mephostophilis tells him.32-3). socios habuisse doloris" (1. He demands that Mephostophilis bring him a wife. / All places shall be hell that is not heaven" (1. Throughout the whole scene. one for every moment of desire. Mephostophilis tells him that hell is not so much a set place: "Hell hath no limits. Mephostophilis is always in hell. In exchange.heart of Mephostophilis' answer is this: "Solamen miseris. thou art conjuror laureate: / Thou canst command great Mephostophilis" (1.5. But the devil returns. he does not understand that hell is primarily a state of the spirit. Furthermore. and must stay nearby. and botany. and then leave. When he forces Mephostophilis to leave and re-enter in a Franciscan monk's garb (a little jab at Catholics that the Protestant audience would have found gratifying). hoping to win souls. the blood congeals too quickly to make good ink. ".5." Mephostophilis is subject completely to his whim. even when he appears on earth. Faustus believes he's the one in control. Faustus doesn't seem to understand. Faustus. They continue to talk. ("Comfort in misery is to have companions in woe. They crown Faustus. Faustus can take spirit shape in "form and substance.3.") When Faustus cuts his arm for the contract.131).
/ All places shall be hell that is not heaven" (1." Mephostophilis' reply: "Ay. Faustus will come to seem as loutish and uninspiring as Wagner. and even now with the twenty-four year term just started. The theme of mistaking knowledge for wisdom continues at the end of the scene.5. it might suggest that Mephostophilis feels an odd sympathy for Faustus. and wishes to distract him.81-2). leave these frivolous demands. but no wisdom.127-9). other audience members feel them to be a welcome relief from the serious subject of damnation. scene 1. Mephostophilis' presentation of the devil dressed in woman's garb is more than a moment of black humor.5. "And to be short.131). As the play progress and Faustus sinks into debauchery. alternately. Even the writing on his arm ("Fly. The Good . and cannot bear to think of his state: "Oh Faustus. The need for distraction suggests that Faustus can still repent. and still can't grasp what the devil says. The devil knows how this story will end. Like an amateur scholar who collects facts but cannot penetrate his subject deeply. and Faustus seems ready for hell. the devil is calling the shots even in the meager details. and a theme of the play. when Mephostophilis distracts Faustus with a dance of devils. and save himself from hell.1. The devil is actually hurt by Faustus' questions. He cursed the devil.hell is separation from God. when Faustus is delighted by the tomes of knowledge Mephostophilis provides. when all the world dissolves / And every creature shall be purified.4 is a bit of comic relief. He asks Mephostophilis again about hell. for depriving him of heaven. But the Evil Angel's advice is taken over the Good. / Which strike a terror to my fainting soul" (1. till experience change thy mind" (1.3. Sandwiched between two rather disturbing scenes. and prizing the first over the latter is a grave mistake. He craves information on astrology and botany. Mephostophilis proves that heaven is inferior to man. The final scene of the act shows Faustus having last doubts. think so still. when the devil tells him about it. Faustus seeks knowledge about hell. even if Faustus does not. The "frivolous demands" are the curious questions about hell's nature. Summoning demons becomes comic rather than serious (one of the demons is named "Belcher. just this moment. He has knowledge." These comic scenes are ambiguous. oh man. he doesn't understand it. Faustus is in his study with Mephostophilis. Act II Prologue and Act Two: Summary: Scene 2. and not some scholar's trivia. Faustus responds that he thinks hell is a "fable. Faustus' wish for a wife isn't granted. Through shallow logic. This scene also serves to juxtapose Wagner's petty ends to Faustus' overreaching ambition. from anxiety. For Mephostophilis. Mephostophilis is willing to deceive him. but cannot grasp the spiritual truth of what hell is. They have been criticized as irrelevant to the action and in poor taste." presumably to God) is quickly forgotten. He understands his answers. the experience of hell is painful and continuous. It also suggests that already.
He's with Dick.2. When his questions about astronomy have been answered. and Faustu calls out to Christ to help him. and their concern about keeping Faustus damned. He distracts himself with questions about the heavens. He understands the forms of the heavens. only Faustus is unsure. for he is just" (2. it would do no good. For the second time in the play. They depart. The Good Angel and Evil Angel arrive. the devil flees. they would be less concerned with Faustus' prayers. Although scholars generally hold that Marlowe did not write the segment . If Faustus repents. He believes himself damned. Faustus. The Good Angel tells him there is still time to repent. and he agrees to say it no more. Faustus is delighted. Lucifer arrives and gives Faustus the same advice: "Christ cannot save thy soul. Either way. his Evil Angel warns him that he is too far gone. they parade the Seven Deadly Sins before him. he asks who made the world. the advice of the Good Angel is sound. here called Robin. continues to prize knowledge without acquiring wisdom. if it really were too late. and the Evil Angel tell him that as he is a spirit now. repeating their advice about repentance. he fails to understand the divine mystery of God's forgiving nature. had held the opinion that each human on earth had a guardian angel as protector and possible guide. They say he injures them by saying the name of Christ. But this advice comes from Evil. and Amphion (a character from Greek myth) has played his music. Given the distress of the devils. Lucifer promises to show Faustus hell that night. The scene ends with the two men going off to get a drink. though a great scholar. God cannot pity him. and asks forgiveness. repeating their old advice. To entertain him. Scene 2.and Evil Angel enter. The Clown has the magic book. The despair of that fact would drive him to suicide. has gotten one of Faustus' magic books. Because he is human. The Good Angel may be interpreted as a dramatic representation of Faustus' better judgment. and Mephostophilis arrive to intimidate Faustus.1. then he can still be saved. Both the Evil Angel and Lucifer are interested in bringing Faustus into damnation. Faustus' "guardian angel. Lucifer. a central theme of the play. Faustus is damned because he does not understand the nature of Christian redemption. the Good Angel promises as much. or it may be a literal character. Analysis: Faustus is torn by the fear that even if he did repent. an observant audience sees that there is no real ambiguity about whether or not repentance would be too late. The Clown. apparently a servant. and two men banter. and flawed. and tries to enjoy being damned. Homer has performed for him. and so he finally gives in to the devil's pageantry of sin. but does not understand the nature of God's heaven. and when Faustus speaks of God. since the time of the first Doctors of the Catholic Church.88). He distracts himself now by asking Mephostophilis a series of questions about the structure of the heavens. Beelzebub. Faustus speaks of the conviction that he cannot repent. if it weren't for the pleasures he has seen. and gives him a book on shapeshifting. Mephostophilis doesn't like this question. but apparently cannot read it. but not the force behind them." Many Christian theologians.
2. scenes 5-7. They . this interpretation might be making too much of a few short moments of comic relief. and content wholly free from the serious subject matter surrounding it. It includes bawdy jokes. The comic scenes and their import would have served as an inside joke.2 is another bit of comic relief." and throw himself into being hellbound. He then rode a dragon's back to study cosmography. under Mephostophilis' spell. but trying to read a play by what is believed about the author is always a difficult and uncertain method. However. where the feast honoring St. They wait in the Pope's own private chamber for him. and he undercuts the sincerity of the themes with a running series of scenes mocking the whole idea of demon summoning.1. and he is now vanquished. good-natured humor. studied the stars and the celestial structure. Some argue that the comic relief scenes. When Faustus wants to see them. and Raymond. and Lechery). He plans to restore Bruno's liberty and return him to Germany. The Chorus describes how Faustus went to the top of Mount Olympus. and in a chariot drawn by dragons. Faustus and Mephostophilis re-enter. who watches with Mephostophilis. Envy. The Pope informs Bruno that the Emperor and he are to be excommunicated. For that reading. and Bruno. Marlowe enjoying his craft. see the analysis for Act Four. The Pope makes Bruno bow as his foot stool and abuses him verbally. Gluttony. the main play is an exercise. The opinion of this study guide scribbler is that there is no conflict between Marlowe the rebellious atheist (if the hearsay about him was true) and the story of Doctor Faustus. Sloth. Bishops. as Mephostophilis describes Rome's wonders. Scenes 1-10 Prologue and Act Three: Summary: Scene 3. Mephostophilis and Faustus arrive in Rome. constitute a counterpoint to the main story of the play. magically disguised as the cardinals who are now sleeping. The Pope sends cardinals to proclaim the statutes naming Bruno's fate. and is now flying to Rome. This interpretive reading of the comic scenes is strongly colored by Marlowe's biography. Scene 2. maybe even a private one only enjoyed by Marlowe himself.where the Seven Deadly Sins (Pride. in order that the Pontiff's supremacy might be made clear. King of Hungary. Scene 3. a man in chains. Faustus describing the places he's been. Act III. Wrath. so that they can torment the Pope and his subordinates. Mephostophilis restrains him. Faustus agrees to "think on the devil. Faustus. According to this view. taken together. The Pope enters with cardinals. Peter is about to be celebrated. the spirit at the end of the scene is basically the same. Covetousness. unseen. They declare the sentence of the Synod (council of Bishops). the shapes of coasts and kingdoms. Bruno is a man whom the Emperor of Germany tried to make Pope. orders Mephostophilis to follow the cardinals to the consistory and magically put them to sleep.
as yet untransformed. Analysis: The choice of Mount Olympus as a launch pad (3. Renaissance astronomy conceived of the heavens as a series of concentric spheres. with bell. throw fireworks. Robin the Clown. which Mephostophilis loves ("So. The devil puts squibs (sizzling fireworks) in the backs of Robin and Rafe. trained in traditions that have their roots in Greek method and learning. Scene 3.3. and leave. But the descent comes rather quickly. Scene 3.take Bruno away. and candle to perform rites that will rid the room of the evil presence. The unfortunate cardinals return. who seems unable to see Mephostophilis. the mover of all the others. . Faustus moves from studying astronomy to cosmography (study of the earth) almost immediately.4. and his feats in that court we will presently see. He becomes a favorite of Emperor Carolus the Fifth (Charles V. and the antics continue. seem thrilled at the idea of getting to be animals.1) is symbolic. His mind. All goes according to plan. and he tells Robin and Rafe that he will turn one into an ape and the other into a dog. As the Pope is sitting for his meal. Faustus starts to hit the Pope. of the heavens. Faustus and Mephostophilis look forward to the confusion when the cardinals awake and return to the Pope. and they take Burno away. centered on the earth. foreshadowing his descent. Mephostophilis is furious at having been summoned all the way from Constantinople to perform tricks. where his vast knowledge of astronomy and his abilities earn him wide renown." beyond the planets. He leaves. Rafe returns the cup to the Vintner. Robin and Rafe. and confusion breaks out when it becomes clear that they don't know where Bruno is. who exits with his train. They steal a silver cup from a Vintner. They make themselves invisible. when the Vintner arrives Robin summons Mephostophilis to deal with him. 1515-56). and Faustus reaching its summit suggests the nobility and glory due to man in the Greek worldview. Friars return. In the physical world. Mount Olympus is the abode of the gods in Greek myth. book. Faustus has found a limit to human knowledge: the primary source. A Bishop suggests that the villain might be a ghost come from Purgatory. was never devil blessed thus before" [3. here working as an ostler (a person who takes care of horses) promises his friend Rafe that with his magic book.197]). From there. Faustus and Mephostophilis beat up all the friars. so. he can perform pleasure-giving feats. Taking off from Mount Olympus is as close to divine (in one sense of divine) as a human can get. has reached new heights. The Pope blesses them. and they run around like loons. Faustus ascends into the heavens themselves. The Primum Mobile was the first sphere to move.3. The Chorus returns to tell us that Faustus returns home. supposedly to be burned at the stake. methods that place man and his mind at the center of the universe. reaching beyond the "Primum Mobile. Faustus speaks blasphemies (an invisible man talking) and snatches the Pope's food and wine. the prime mover.
you'll be cursed with bell. The nobility of initial intention apparently lacks real integrity. Note that the incantations of the friars (a fairly inaccurate parody of an exorcism) do nothing. to curse Faustus to hell" (3. wasting time in a way that benefits humanity in no way. power-hungry. the friars perform a superstitious ritual cursing two beings who are already cursed.3). Protestants rejected such teaching. with relish. The depiction of the pope would have been gratifying to the Protestant audience: he comes off as cruel. to Catholics. Robin and Rafe seek magic for no greater use than drunkenness and sexual pleasure.4 we have a scene of sheer foolery. Mephostophilis does not seem particularly interested in getting Robin and Rafe to sell their souls. and is therefore outside the main story's rules. because the object of scorn here is the pope. in 3. Excommunication was exclusion from the community of the believers. in 3. but not because of a priest's authority. Also. but devils in disguise.The scene in Rome shows Faustus at his worst. Likewise. what will you do now? / For I can tell you. But Robin is at least honest about his motivations. From the Protestant point of view. His irritation undercuts his earlier statement that on the sound of magic incantations. Man is damned by his own action. it becomes clear that they have no power over him.2-3 he used it for rather cheap tricks. When one of the cardinals suggests that the invisible attacker might be a spirit come up from purgatory. and he also is furious at having been called.3. While Faustus once claimed he would use magic to change the world.3. A more grounded charge was that Catholics were too idolatrous of priestly authority.1. cursing Faustus. Once again. Faustus has used his magic. The likeliest explanation is that this comic scene is outside the more serious scope of the main story. but because he is eager to capture any man's soul (1. candle. and candle. / Forward and backward. he comes not because magic compels him. not to benefit mankind.91-2). and held that ghosts were not the souls of people they claimed to represent. book. and were thought to be spirits of purgatory (a place where sinners are punished. and not by the authority of a priest. But as the friars enter. book and candle. Scenes 1-4 Prologue and Act Four. The scene allows Faustus to be sacrilegious without offending his Protestant audience. when the friars return with "bell.93-4). Protestants flattered themselves with the belief that Catholics were superstitious. it meant a sure sentence to hell. Here is another jab at Catholic authority. Act IV. Faustus will be going to hell. the Pope says to Bruno. the Chorus has told us that Faustus' knowledge has made him a bit of celebrity. but to do a bit of social climbing. book and bell. He does nothing here but play cheap pranks. in 3. book and candle" (3. but not eternally).3. there are jabs here at Catholic belief. and as far from a holy man as a man can be. Faustus also laughs at the friars: "Bell. At the end of 3. Ghosts existed in Catholic teaching." Mephostophilis' reaction is a kind of mock-concern: "Now Fautus. his incorrect guess brings particular pleasure to Protestant viewers. Scenes 1-4: . that he will excommunicate Bruno and the Emperor for their defiance.
to live hidden from the world until the horns go away. who has to be restrained by Faustus from embracing Alexander. if the horns remain. but merely an illusion: ". Frederick leaves to place the soldiers for ambush. Saxony. They try to rouse their sleeping lush of a friend. Scene 4. His warning to the Emperor reveals that he is not presenting the real Alexander the Great. to come see the show. Enter Benvolio. Martino. While he spoke in Act One of using magic to be a great man. . Benvolio. and Benvolio cuts off Faustus' head. They all have horns on their heads." (4. the German Emperor. The Emperor welcomes Faustus. . .2. having ridden home on a demon's back. Mephostophilis. and put horns on it . Martino. but he refuses to come. but Faustus defeats them by commanding the trees and summoning an army of devils. at first commanding them to fly with them up to heaven before dragging them down to hell. The devils drag off the trio. .2. because he wants men to see what happens to his enemies. saying that if Faustus can conjure spirits. Benvolio plots revenge. delighting the Emperor. and Soldiers.Summary: Scene 4. like the mythical character Acteon .4. He threatens to summon hunting dogs (paralleling the death of Acteon). Analysis: Faustus descends further. Frederick. and the Emperor asks Faustus to restore Benvolio's human shape. Faustus conjures Alexander the Great. but Benvolio appeals to the Emperor for help. Because he made his deal with the devil and was promised twenty-four more years of life. and Alexander's paramour. Benvolio. Benvolio won't be persuaded. Scene 4. two nobles at the court of the German Emperor. Scene 4. here he's content to put on a light show. Martino. Martino tries to stop Benvolio from making a move against Faustus. but Faustus' body rises. and Faustus fawns on the Emperor. The three friends attack. . Benvolio's at the window. Faustus also makes antlers grow on the head of Benvolio. He tells the devils to drag the three friends through different parts of the wilderness. They plan to desecrate the head. and returns to warn them that Faustus is coming. He summons his devils. italics mine). is back. and Attendants are in the court. and so they retreat to Benvolio's castle. Benvolio is just as likely to become a stag. Charles. he cannot be killed. Bruno. converse about recent events.3. and his friends resolve to stand with him.1. The Emperor commends Faustus and promises him high office. They decide that attacking Faustus is futile. the Persian Emperor Darius. promising wonders. Benvolio voices his skepticism. . Faustus. and Frederick find each other in the woods. Martino and Frederick. the Emperor's choice for pope. they'll stay at the castle forever. and reigning as sole king. The ambush soldiers arrive. They are excited about the imminent performance of Faustus the conjuror for the pleasure of the court. He'll watch from the window. when my spirits present the royal shapes / Of Alexander and his paramour . thanking him for delivering Bruno.45-6. . Frederick. Bruno. Then he changes his mind.
2. Incidentally. or for both. No one at court is horrified by Faustus' connections to the devil. Frederick and Martino agree to stand with Benvolio. like Acteon (4. there was a long tradition in literature of mistrusting scholars.2-4. Horns to Marlowe's audience would have been a particular mark of comic shame.93). Marlowe is critiquing the men of the world. Even Benvolio's opposition to him is motivated by personal insult rather than principles. Benvolio will turn into a stag. The parallels are developed in 4. He has no real power. In many bawdy tales.115-118). and scholars be such cuckold-makers to clap horns of honest men's heads o' this order. Acteon is a character from Greek myth. even though he has just been told (between the lines) that what he sees is mere illusion. and cuckolds were represented in art as having horns.102-3). All are impressed by Faustus' power. The stage directions: "Thunder and lightning. Then enter WAGNER. as Acteon was.2. Faustus will be murdered by his own devils. The double entendre refers back to a long literary tradition. Faustus manages to prevent Benvolio and company from tearing him to pieces.2. The youthful and vigorous scholar would proceed to seduce the man's wife. The Emperor tries to embrace Alexander the Great. And the sight of the three friends. Marlowe makes the friends sympathetic. Having given the Catholic Church a send-up. who would have been known to Marlowe via the great Roman poet Ovid. due to supernatural power. it is because Benvolio says that if Faustus can conjure spirits. likens Faustus' devils to his dogs (4. She transforms him into a stag. beaten and covered with dirt.14). and now comically deformed. for pathos. MEPHOSTOPHILIS leads them into FAUSTUS' study. seeing clearly that such was their intent (4. and would have given pleasure to the audience. And it is precisely the men of the world that Faustus is now hoping to impress. In 4. panicking. Act V. Faustus' gruesome end will be at the hands of the very creatures he now commands. Scene 1 Prologue and Act Five.The delighted reaction of the Emperor to this suggests a cynicism about men of the world. As Acteon was murdered by his own dogs. and he is torn to pieces by his own hounds. a man became a cuckold by taking on a poor young scholar as a boarder.3.53).2. Glorying over the Pope. But Faustus will be torn to pieces later. as a man whose wife cheated on him was called a cuckold. Hence Benvolio's reaction to the magical horns he grows. But the horns incident shows that Faustus' desperate situation.1. even if it took the form of cheap tricks. rather than let their friend stand alone (4. Enter devils with covered dishes. which can be taken in two ways: " Sblood [an oath.3. and his excessive punishment of Benvolio and his cohorts shows that. When first he enchants Benvolio.4 he takes gratuitous pleasure in beating down a trio of run-of-the-mill courtiers. when Benvolio." . short for Christ's blood']. I'll ne'er trust smooth faces and small ruffs more" (4. Scene 1: Summary: Scene 5. at least took on an upscale target. and fail to see what a misguided and unprincipled creature he is. can be played for laughs. Acteon the hunter offends the goddess Diana.
watching. to torture him. the Scholars leave. but Mephostophilis threatens him with physical violence. leaving all to Wagner. The devils enter. and orders Mephostophilis to go torment the old man. come. At their request. and Faustus. But even as death approaches.Wagner tells the audience that he thinks Faustus prepares for death. Mephostophilis tells Faustus that he cannot touch the Old Man's soul. Wagner exits. The Old Man watches. Faustus tells the man that his words have brought comfort. thanking Faustus. Mephostophilis. Her lips suck forth my soul: see where it flies. And all is dross that is not Helena. Faustus begs pardon.97-103) The Old Man re-enters. And burnt the topless towers of Ilium? Sweet Helen.1. and he faces them without fear. and three Scholars enter. with Helen as his love and himself playing Paris of Troy. Faustus seems shaken and moved. knowing that his hour approaches quickly. he conjures the sight of Helen of Troy. Here will I dwell for heaven is in those lips. Helen. Mephostophilis gives him a dagger. The devil brings forth the shape of Helen. as Faustus speaks of how he'll relive the myths of Greece. He has made his will. He seems to think that he is doomed. but he can harm the Old Man's body. (5. and knows Faustus is lost. but he is completely unshaken. and Mephostophilis readily agrees. and leaves. warning Faustus to repent. and Belzebub). The devils of hell make an occasion out of winning the single . make me immortal with a kiss. Faustus spends his days feasting and drinking with the other students. Faustus gives the most famous speech of the play: Was this the face that launched a thousand ships. Faustus asks Mephostophilis to bring Helen of Troy to him. to be his love. saying there is still time. Faustus seems ready to repent. Come. Analysis: Marlowe sets up an evil parallel of the Christian trinity in the three devils (Lucifer. They cannot harm what matters. and asks him to leave. An Old Man enters. so that Faustus can contemplate his sins. give me my soul again. Ravished. Mephostophilis. He leaves with her.
/ Yes. The language is beautiful. Helen of Troy is not there: Faustus makes love to a dream. Paris did indeed fight Menelaus. Act V. / And wear thy colours on my plumed crest. He seems unable. He escapes physical harm for now. . his understanding of the Greek worldview is selective and shallow. and the unholy three seem to be looking forward to it. Paris doomed his city and his people to destruction. but the Greek king was far from "weak.2. Though he rejected the Christian God in part because he thought to aspire to Greek greatness.soul of Faustus. / And then return to Helen for a kiss" (5. and makes clear that Faustus can still be saved.1." Only the intervention of the gods saved Paris. on the other hand. but Faustus has altered his source story. he chooses not to remember that Paris is traditionally depicted as a coward and moral failure. The conjuration of Helen of Troy. by exploiting a unique weakness. By prizing flesh over spirit. But shooting Achilles in the heel was not a knightly act. He also orders his devils to attack an old man who only tried to help him. Faustus betrays both Greek and Christian values. to realize that his poetic praise is only a damned man's fantasy. but Faustus. or unwilling. and not the Old Man. I will wound Achilles in the heel. This speech shows Faustus' problem. and by allowing himself to be saved. Tonight is the night when Faustus will give up his soul. with a touch of the chivalric lore. but as usual Faustus is all talk. and the wounds to his flesh are insignificant. He seems to know the Greek stories. the devils take great pains even to damn just one soul. Even within his fantasies. but he doesn't understand them. His talk of wearing Helen's colors on his crest was a knightly tradition. He loses his last chance at redemption. and loves their beauty. Scene 2 Prologue and Act Five. Faustus. But Faustus chooses instead to take a lover-spirit in the shape of Helen of Troy. caves quickly when Mephostophilis threatens him with physical violence.106-7). Though he fantasizes about being Paris. Faustus speaks of battling for Helen: "And I will combat with weak Menelaus. and Mephostophilis. Enter Lucifer. is the one who'll know true suffering. also resonates strongly with the central themes of the play. in addition to providing occasion for some of the play's finest lines. Faustus imagines himself as a Greek hero. Belzebub. and he also wastes his remaining time on lechery. the Trojan prince who causes the war by abducting Helen. Faustus reveals his failure. Just as Christ is the Good Shepherd. His speech is beautiful. Scene 2 and Epilogue: Summary: Scene 5. But the Old Man's spirit is untouchable. The Old Man offers Faustus yet another chance to repent. who goes in search of one lost sheep to save it. The scholars' delight reflects Faustus' old infatuation with the beauty of Greek thinking and literature. Thunder. It was an example of weak man beating a far better one.
Faustus and Wagner enter. poor soul. He curses his parents. for time to stop its forward rush. and the devil proudly takes credit for it. he cries aloud for his soul to dissolve into the air. to escape harm when the devils come. "Fools that will laugh on earth. which (as we learned in 5. They notice that Faustus looks ill. As Faustus begs God and the devil for mercy.2. Tonight he is to lose his soul. Faustus is terrified by the sight. but Faustus thinks it's too late. but they can't. The Third Scholar considers staying with him. They find Faustus' body. The scholars and Wagner do not sense the presence of the devils. The three scholars enter. leaving with the line. He realizes time cannot stop. must weep in hell" (5. torn to pieces. it is too late: "And now. and futilely. Faustus blames Mephostophilis for his damnation. He wishes that Pythagoras' theory of transmigration of souls (reincarnation) were true.124-5). Faustus begins his final monologue. Scene 5. naming the horrible tortures seen there. The Good and Evil Angels arrive. The Good Angel laments that Faustus has now lost the eternal joys of heaven. rather than just see. Enter the three Scholars. Faustus tells them that he cannot even raise his arms up to God. The clock strikes for half past the hour. and Wagner expresses gratitude. the devils drag him away. They go to the next room to pray for Faustus. The Clock strikes eleven. The Scholars exit. The devils enter. whose souls are not immortal. / One drop would save my soul. Now. so that the devils cannot find it. I'll leap up to my God: who pulls me down? / See. The First Scholar asks why Faustus did not speak of this before. and delivers these memorable lines: "Oh.2. my Christ!" (5. He pleads with different aspects of nature to help him.1) leaves all to Wagner. He pleads beautifully. He regrets having ever seen a book. He pleads that God will shorten his time in hell to a thousand. where Christ's blood streams in the firmament. The clock strikes midnight. The Evil Angel exits. then curses himself. Faustus tells them to leave him. The Good Angel exits. or drops of water. but his colleagues convince him not to invite danger. When they suggest bringing a doctor. . But he knows that hell is eternal.2. for the devils push his arms down. They've been much disturbed by all of the terrible noise they heard between midnight and one. Faustus tells them he is damned forever. He has a vision of an angry God. The gates of Hell open. see. Ah.156-8). Faustus asks Wagner how he likes the will. but the Evil Angel reminds him gleefully that soon he will feel.3. and finally curses Lucifer. half a drop.106). and he answers that the devils threatened him with bodily harm. He wishes that he could be an animal. With thunder and lightning scarring the skies. Mephostophilis exits. so that they might pray for him. The Evil Angel taunts Faustus. must thy good angel leave thee: / The jaws of hell are open to receive thee" (5. Mephostophilis taunts Faustus. The scholars advise him to repent. or even a hundred thousand years.
spanning vast centuries and idea systems that are worlds apart. Wagner seems concerned about his master. Analysis: Faustus lacks the high dignity of a great tragic hero. but he seems genuinely concerned for Faustus. The Chorus warns the audience to remember his fall. curse thyself. . and transform.Epilogue. He curses his parents for giving birth to him. Christian imagery.2. The whole final monologue is quite rich.190-192). But this cynical view does not square with what we actually see on stage. and would make an excellent choice for a close reading paper. The clock striking eleven might suggest the parable told by Jesus in chapter 20 of the Gospel of Matthew. while Faustus at this point seems to be irrevocably damned. he alludes to various theories and conceptions of the soul (5. and that Wagner likes Faustus because the damned scholar is leaving him all his wealth. and the lessons it offers. But another possibility is that Marlowe is playing loosely with the Christian framework. Though a close reading seems beyond the scope of this study guide. He certainly doesn't seem to be looking forward to Faustus' death.163-174). The Chorus emphasizes that Faustus is gone. his once-great potential wasted.177-189). What is Marlowe suggesting? Marlowe possibly may not have the Gospel of Matthew in mind. Wagner's opinion of his master may have improved after he was named Faustus' heir. And the Scholars all seem to be upstanding men. the speech leaps from concept to concept. but he seems nevertheless to be well liked by his fellow men. attention should be paid to the different sections of the monologue. If Marlowe is indeed using Doctor Faustus to suggest that rejecting traditional systems of morality has to be followed by replacing those systems with something valid. Faustus' Good Angel abandons him. Faustus knows that he at least shares the responsibility for his own damnation. The cynical audience member might argue that the three scholars only like Faustus because he conjures great wonders for them. Before the clock strikes eleven. toward the monologue's end. Faustus makes an odd and distinctive appeal to the forces of nature (5. curse Lucifer / That hath deprived thee of the joys of heaven" (5. even if he partly implies that the devil made him do it. Faustus' beautiful lines about Christ's blood streaming in the firmament show how well Marlowe can use. he uses striking imagery. terrified man. then repentance right before the end would most definitely be meaningless. But the play draws from the great richness of the Christian worldview. Faustus is doing more than making a powerful last lament before his death and damnation. even when despairing. but quickly realizes where the real fault lies: "Cursed be the parents that engendered me! / No. the Third Scholar going so far as offering to stay with Faustus when the devils come.2. His last moments show a pathetic. in order to make his own point. Faustus. Within 57 lines. Much of Faustus' despair comes from the fact that he has no one but himself to blame. Faustus' potential is squandered. The chiming clock may only be there to heighten suspense by giving Faustus an agonized last hour before a dramatic midnight death. But the point of Christ's parable is that those who accept him in the eleventh hour can still be saved. and the three scholars like Faustus.2.
for issues concerning Marlowe. Marlowe needs no apology. But Doctor Faustus is invaluable as a text because it helps the reader to understand the times in which Marlowe lived and wrote. Religion. Doctor Faustus can be read convincingly as a Christian text.3. and will continue to bring pleasure to those readers who make the effort to appreciate Marlowe on his own terms. Reading the play as an atheistic or ironic work is much harder to justify. and seems unduly colored by Marlowe's vague and ambiguous biography. but one that uses the Christian framework. respectfully and admiringly.The Chorus emphasizes the lost potential represented by Faustus' failure. The play is very difficult to perform now. The play also has many fine speeches. certainly. obviously. and Marlowe's work helps us to better appreciate Shakespeare. Marlowe's supposed recklessness is famous. and the concerns and new conflicts of the Renaissance were once current cultural waters rather than movements and concepts to be studied in class. and a great mind at work. but works like Doctor Faustus and Tamburlaine show a deep moral seriousness. But Doctor Faustust may be something else entirely: a cautionary tale. because contemporary audiences are separated from the complex worlds Marlow drew upon to create his play. He is the cut "branch that might have grown full straight" (5. For those who make the effort to understand his plays within the context in which they were produced. with an authentic and literal Christian core. was a much stronger part of the audience's life during Marlowe's time. They close with the conventional admonition to obey the commands of heaven. .20). These qualities transcend the texts' value as cultural documents.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.