Context Born in Canterbury in 1564, the same year as William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe was an actor, poet, and

playwright during the reign of Britain¶s Queen Elizabeth I (ruled 1558 ±1603). Marlowe attended Corpus Christi College at Cambridge University and received degrees in 1584 and 1587. Traditionally, the education that he received would have prepared him to become a clergyman, but Marlowe chose not to join the ministry. For a time, Cambridge even wanted to withhold his degree, apparently suspecting him of having converted to Catholicism, a forbidden faith in late sixteenth-century England, where Protestantism was the state-supported religion. Queen Elizabeth¶s Privy Council intervened on his behalf, saying that Marlowe had ³done her majesty good service´ in ³matters touching the benefit of the country.´ This odd sequence of events has led some to theorize that Marlowe worked as a spy for the crown, possibly by infiltrating Catholic communities in France. After leaving Cambridge, Marlowe moved to London, where he became a playwright and led a turbulent, scandal-plagued life. He produced seven plays, all of which were immensely popular. Among the most well known of his plays are Tamburlaine, The Jew of Malta, and Doctor Faustus. In his writing, he pioneered the use of blank verse²nonrhyming lines of iambic pentameter²which many of his contemporaries, including William Shakespeare, later adopted. In 1593, however, Marlowe¶s career was cut short. After being accused of heresy (maintaining beliefs contrary to those of an approved religion), he was arrested and put on a sort of probation. On May 30, 1593, shortly after being released, Marlowe became involved in a tavern brawl and was killed when one of the combatants stabbed him in the head. After his death, rumors were spread accusing him of treason, atheism, and homosexuality, and some people speculated that the tavern brawl might have been the work of government agents. Little evidence to support these allegations has come to light, however. Doctor Faustus was probably written in 1592, although the exact date of its composition is uncertain, since it was not published until a decade later. The idea of an individual selling his or her soul to the devil for knowledge is an old motif in Christian folklore, one that had become attached to the historical persona of Johannes Faustus, a disreputable astrologer who lived in Germany sometime in the early 1500s. The immediate source of Marlowe¶s play seems to be the anonymous German work Historia von D. Iohan Fausten of 1587, which was translated into English in 1592, and from which Marlowe lifted the bulk of the plot for his drama. Although there had been literary representations of Faust prior to Marlowe¶s play, Doctor Faustus is the first famous version of the story. Later versions include the long and famous poem Faust by the nineteenth-century Romantic writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, as well as operas by Charles Gounod and Arrigo Boito and a symphony by Hector Berlioz. Meanwhile, the phrase ³Faustian bargain´ has entered the English lexicon, referring to any deal made for a short-term gain with great costs in the long run. Plot Overview
D octor Faustus, a well-respected German scholar, grows dissatisfied with the limits of traditional forms of knowledge²logic, medicine, law, and religion²and decides that he wants to learn to practice magic. His friends Valdes and Cornelius instruct him in the black arts, and he begins his new career as a magician by summoning up Mephastophilis, a devil. Despite Mephastoph ilis¶s warnings about the horrors of hell, Faustus tells the devil to return to his master, Lucifer, with an offer of Faustus¶s soul in exchange for twenty-four years of service from Mephastophilis. Meanwhile, Wagner, Faustus¶s servant, has picked up some magical ability and uses it to press a clown named Robin into his service. Mephastophilis returns to Faustus with word that Lucifer has accepted Faustus¶s offer. Faustus experiences some misgivings and wonders if he should repent and save his soul; in the end, though, he agrees to the deal, signing it with his blood. As soon as he does so, the words ³Homo fuge,´ Latin for ³O man, fly,´ appear branded on his arm. Faustus again has second thoughts, but Mephastophilis bestows rich gifts on him and gives him a book of spells to learn. Later, Mephastophilis answers all of his questions about the nature of the world, refusing to answer only when Faustus asks him who made the universe. This refusal prompts yet another bout of misgivings in Faustus, but Mephastophilis and Lucifer bring in personifications of the Seven Deadly Sins to prance about in front of Faustus, and he is impressed enough to quiet his doubts.

Armed with his new powers and attended by Mephastophilis, Faustus begins to travel. He goes to the pope¶s court in Rome, makes himself invisible, and plays a series of tricks. He disrupts the pope¶s banquet by stealing food and boxing the pope¶s ears. Following this incident, he travels through the courts of Europe, with his fame spreading as he goes. Eventually, he is invited to the court of the German emperor, Charles V (the enemy of the pope), who asks Faustus to allow him to see Alexander the Great, the famed fourth-century b.c. Macedonian king and conqueror. Faustus conjures up an image of Alexander, and Charles is suitably impressed. A knight scoffs at Faustus¶s powers, and Faustus chastises him by making antlers sprout from his head. Furious, the knight vows revenge. Meanwhile, Robin, Wagner¶s clown, has picked up some magic on his own, and with his fellow stablehand, Rafe, he undergoes a number of comic misadventures. At one point, he manages to summon Mephastophilis, who threatens to turn Robin and Rafe into animals (or perhaps even does transform them; the text isn¶t clear) to punish them for their foolishness. Faustus then goes on with his travels, playing a trick on a horse-courser along the way. Faustus sells him a horse that turns into a heap of straw when ridden into a river. Eventually, Faustus is invited to the court of the Duke of Vanholt, where he performs various feats. The horse-courser shows up there, along with Robin, a man named Dick (Rafe in the A text), and various others who have fallen victim to Faustus¶s trickery. But Faustus casts spells on them and sends them on their way, to the amusement of the duke and duchess. As the twenty-four years of his deal with Lucifer come to a close, Faustus begins to dread his impending death. He has Mephastophilis call up Helen of Troy, the famous beauty from the ancient world, and uses her presence to impress a group of scholars. An old man urges Faustus to repent, but Faustus drives him away. Faustus summons Helen again and exclaims rapturously about her beauty. But time is growing short. Faustus tells the scholars about his pact, and they are horror-stricken and resolve to pray for him. On the final night before the expiration of the twenty-four years, Faustus is overcome by fear and remorse. He begs for mercy, but it is too late. At midnight, a host of devils appears and carries his soul off to hell. In the morning, the scholars find Faustus¶s limbs and decide to hold a funeral for him.

Character List Faustus - The protagonist. Faustus is a brilliant sixteenth-century scholar from Wittenberg, Germany, whose ambition for knowledge, wealth, and worldly might makes him willing to pay the ultimate price²his soul²to Lucifer in exchange for supernatural powers. Faustus¶s initial tragic grandeur is diminished by the fact that he never seems completely sure of the decision to forfeit his soul and constantly wavers about whether or not to repent. His ambition is admirable and initially awesome, yet he ultimately lacks a certain inner strength. He is unable to embrace his dark path wholeheartedly but is also unwilling to admit his mistake. Read an in-depth analysis of Faustus. Mephastophilis - A devil whom Faustus summons with his initial magical experiments. Mephastophilis¶s motivations are ambiguous: on the one hand, his oft expressed goal is to catch Faustus¶s soul and carry it off to hell; on the other hand, he actively attempts to dissuade Faustus from making a deal with Lucifer by warning him about the horrors of hell. Mephastophilis is ultimately as tragic a figure as Faustus, with his moving, regretful accounts of what the devils have lost in their eternal separation from God and his repeated reflections on the pain that comes with damnation. Read an in-depth analysis of Mephastophilis. Chorus - A character who stands outside the story, providing narration and commentary. The Chorus was customary in Greek tragedy. Old Man - An enigmatic figure who appears in the final scene. The old man urges Faustus to repent and to ask God for mercy. He seems to replace the good and evil angels, who, in the first scene, try to influence Faustus¶s behavior. Good Angel - A spirit that urges Faustus to repent for his pact with Lucifer and return to God. Along with the old man and the bad angel, the good angel represents, in many ways, Faustus¶s conscience and divided will between good and evil. Evil Angel - A spirit that serves as the counterpart to the good angel and provides Faustus with reasons not to repent for sins against God. The evil angel represents the evil half of Faustus¶s conscience.

Lucifer - The prince of devils, the ruler of hell, and Mephastophilis¶s master. Wagner - Faustus¶s servant. Wagner uses his master¶s books to learn how to summon devils and work magic. Clown - A clown who becomes Wagner¶s servant. The clown¶s antics provide comic relief; he is a ridiculous character, and his absurd behavior initially contrasts with Faustus¶s grandeur. As the play goes on, though, Faustus¶s behavior comes to resemble that of the clown. Robin - An ostler, or innkeeper, who, like the clown, provides a comic contrast to Faustus. Robin and his friend Rafe learn some basic conjuring, demonstrating that even the least scholarly can possess skill in magic. Marlowe includes Robin and Rafe to illustrate Faustus¶s degradation as he submits to simple trickery such as theirs. Rafe - An ostler, and a friend of Robin. Rafe appears as Dick (Robin¶s friend and a clown) in B-text editions of Doctor Faustus. Valdes and Cornelius - Two friends of Faustus, both magicians, who teach him the art of black magic. Horse-courser - A horse-trader who buys a horse from Faustus, which vanishes after the horse-courser rides it into the water, leading him to seek revenge. The Scholars - Faustus¶s colleagues at the University of Wittenberg. Loyal to Faustus, the scholars appear at the beginning and end of the play to express dismay at the turn Faustus¶s studies have taken, to marvel at his achievements, and then to hear his agonized confession of his pact with Lucifer. The pope - The head of the Roman Catholic Church and a powerful political figure in the Europe of Faustus¶s day. The pope serves as both a source of amusement for the play¶s Protestant audience and a symbol of the religious faith that Faustus has rejected. Emperor Charles V - The most powerful monarch in Europe, whose court Faustus visits. Knight - A German nobleman at the emperor¶s court. The knight is skeptical of Faustus¶s power, and Faustus makes antlers sprout from his head to teach him a lesson. The knight is further developed and known as Benvolio in B-text versions of Doctor Faustus; Benvolio seeks revenge on Faustus and plans to murder him. Bruno - A candidate for the papacy, supported by the emperor. Bruno is captured by the pope and freed by Faustus. Bruno appears only in B-text versions of Doctor Faustus. Duke of Vanholt - A German nobleman whom Faustus visits. Martino and Frederick - Friends of Benvolio who reluctantly join his attempt to kill Faustus. Martino and Frederick appear only in B-text versions of Doctor Faustus.

Analysis of Major Characters Faustus
Faustus is the protagonist and tragic hero of Marlowe¶s play. He is a contradictory character, capable of tremendous eloquence and possessing awesome ambition, yet prone to a strange, almost willful blindness and a willingness to waste powers that he has gained at great cost. When we first meet Faustus, he is just preparing to embark on his career as a magician, and while we already anticipate that things will turn out badly (the Chorus¶s introduction, if nothing else, prepares us), there is nonetheless a grandeur to Faustus as he contemplates all the marvels that his magical powers will produce. He imagines piling up wealth from the four corners of the globe, reshaping the map of Europe (both politically and physically), and gaining access to every scrap of knowledge about the universe. He is an arrogant, self-aggrandizing man, but his ambitions are so grand that we cannot help being impressed, and we even feel sympathetic toward him. He represents the spirit of the Renaissance, with its rejection of the medieval, God-centered universe, and its embrace of human possibility. Faustus, at least early on in his acquisition of magic, is the personification of possibility. But Faustus also possesses an obtuseness that becomes apparent during his bargaining sessions with Mephastophilis. Having decided that a pact with the devil is the only way to fulfill his ambitions, Faustus then blinds himself happily to what such a pact actually means. Sometimes he tells himself

sometimes a conviction that God will not hear his plea. Yet there is an odd ambivalence in Mephastophilis. In an odd way. absolute power corrupts Faustus: once he can do everything. as Faustus comes to know soon enough. / We fly in hope to get his glorious soul´ (3. which makes him and Mephastophilis kindred spirit . Faustus does so anyway. whom Faustus has renounced. Mephastophilis actually warns Faustus against making the deal with Lucifer. when Faustus blithely²and absurdly. Meanwhile. although too late. Marlowe suggests that this uncertainty stems. because Marlowe. ³I¶ll burn my books!´ He becomes once again a tragic hero. he traipses around Europe. and he regains his sweeping sense of vision. -Faustus is also beset with doubts from the beginning. of course. he does not know what to do with them.that hell is not so bad and that one needs only ³fortitude´. On the one hand. he openly admits it. when Faustus remarks that the devil seems to be free of hell at a particular moment. in part. at other times. [w]hy this is hell. the vision that he sees is of hell looming up to swallow him. But. however.76±80) Again. as the knowledge of his impending doom restores his earlier gift of powerful rhetoric. given that he is speaking to a demon²declares that he does not believe in hell. Mephastophilis insists. spends the middle scenes revealing Faustus¶s true. one can almost sense that part of Mephastophilis does not want Faustus to make the same mistakes that he made. . it seems that Mephastophilis simply bullies him away from repenting. petty nature. he no longer wants to do anything. and it is he who. Once Faustus gains his long-desired powers. Renaissancerenouncing last line. from the fact that desire for knowledge leads inexorably toward God. from his first appearance he clearly intends to act as an agent of Faustus¶s damnation. with its hurried rush from idea to idea and its despairing.´ Marlowe¶s Mephastophilis is particularly interesting because he has mixed motives. until the Faustus of the first few scenes is entirely swallowed up in mediocrity.47±49). He uses his incredible gifts for what is essentially trifling entertainment. Before the pact is sealed. Faustus is restored to his earlier grandeur in his closing speech. Why he fails to repent is unclear: -sometimes it seems a matter of pride and continuing ambition. Mephastophilis The character of Mephastophilis (spelled Mephistophilis or Mephistopheles by other authors) is one of the first in a long tradition of sympathetic literary devils. telling Faustus that ³when we hear one rack the name of God. The fields of possibility narrow gradually. after setting his protagonist up as a grandly tragic figure of sweeping visions and immense ambitions. Only in the final scene is Faustus rescued from mediocrity. steps in whenever Faustus considers repentance to cajole or threaten him into staying loyal to hell. playing tricks on yokels and performing conjuring acts to impress various heads of state. for they are two overly proud spirits doomed to hell. Now. Still. And tasted the eternal joys of heaven. throughout the play. It is appropriate that s these two figures dominate Marlowe¶s play. which includes figures like John Milton¶s Satan in Paradise Lost and Johann von Goethe¶s Mephistophilis in the nineteenth -century poem ³Faust. but he himself is damned and speaks freely of the horrors of hell. Other times. But. / Abjure the Scriptures and his savior Christ. It is Mephastophilis who witnesses Faustus¶s pact with Lucifer. He seeks to damn Faustus. Indeed. despite his lack of concern about the prospect of eternal damnation. Instead. he remarks to the disbelieving demon that he does not actually believe hell exists. Marlowe uses much of his finest poetry to describe Faustus¶s final hours. even while conversing with Mephastophilis. nor am I out of it. Think¶st thou that I. Mephastophilis groans and insists that hell is. setting a pattern for the play in which he repeatedly approaches repentance only to pull back at the last moment. a great man undone because his ambitions have butted up against the law of God. indeed. more generally. during which Faustus¶s desire for repentance finally wins out. In a famous passage. Am not tormented with ten thousand hells In being deprived of everlasting bliss? (3. Bullying Faustus is less difficult than it might seem. real and terrible. as he visits ever more minor nobles and performs ever more unimportant magic tricks. who saw the face of God.

Marlowe steps outside the Christian worldview in order to maximize the dramatic power of the final scene. theology was the queen of the sciences. as we have in modern times. But in this soliloquy. however. explicitly rejects the medieval model. in full Renaissance spirit. urged on by the good angel on his shoulder or by the old man in scene 12² both of whom can be seen either as emissaries of God. but his successors will go further than he and suffer less. despite being a magician rather than a scientist (a blurred distinction in the sixteenth century). he goes through every field of scholarship. Faustus. and Damnation Insofar as Doctor Faustus is a Christian play.´ While slightly simplistic. in the final scene. Having inhabited a Christian world for the entire play. The Renaissance was a movement that began in Italy in the fifteenth century and soon spread throughout Europe. theoretically. or authorities in his quest for knowledge. where redemption is no longer possible and where certain sins cannot be forgiven. personifications of Faustus¶s conscience. were key. he keeps his tragic hero squarely in the medieval world. Marlowe seems hostile toward the ambitions of Faustus. the disappointment . this turning away from God condemns him to spend an eternity in hell. Each time. religion. The play offers countless moments in which Faustus considers doing just that. and power. In the medieval model. though. Faustus spends his final moments in a slightly different universe. In making a pact with Lucifer. to accept no limits. where eternal damnation is the price of human pride. it deals with the themes at the heart of Christianity¶s understanding of the world. Faustus commits what is in a sense the ultimate sin: not only does he disobey God.Themes. and the Bible on religion. In creating this moment in which Faustus is still alive but incapable of being redeemed. he cries out to Christ to redeem him. beginning with logic and proceeding through medicine. But it is too late for him to repent. law. In a Christian framework. wealth. and. Redemption. Faustus decides to remain loyal to hell rather than seek heaven. on classical learning. and the limits that these imposed on humanity. as Dawkins notes. First. Sin. even the worst deed can be forgiven through the redemptive power of Jesus Christ. died on the cross for humankind¶s sins. Galen on medicine. The medieval world placed God at the center of existence an d shunted aside man and the natural world. choosing instead to swear allegiance to the devil. Faustus may pay a medieval price. Motifs & Symbols Themes Themes are the fundamental and often universal ideas explored in a literary work. and on scientific inquiry into the nature of the world. the possibility of redemption is always open to him. He resolves. tradition and authority.M. and theology. and. The play¶s attitude toward the clash between medieval and Renaissance values is ambiguous. In the Christian framework. not individual inquiry. Faustus considers and rejects this medieval way of thinking. there is the idea of sin. Dawkins famously remarked that Doctor Faustus tells ³the story of a Renaissance man who had to pay the medieval price for being one. this quotation does get at the heart of one of the play¶s central themes: the clash between the medieval world and the world of the emerging Renaissance. but he consciously and even eagerly renounces obedience to him. In the medieval academy. is ask God for forgiveness. who. or both. In his opening speech in scene 1. the Byzantine emperor Justinian on law. secular matters took center stage. In the Renaissance. which Christianity defines as acts contrary to the will of God. and it is tempting to see in Faustus²as many readers have²a hero of the new modern world. quoting an ancient authority for each: Aristotle on logic. a world free of God. however terrible Faustus¶s pact with Lucifer may be. All that he needs to do. Yet Marlowe himself was no pious traditionalist. traditions. On the other hand. God¶s son. Only at the end of his life does Faustus desire to repent. Thus. carrying with it a new emphasis on the individual. according to Christian belief. this reading suggests. The Conflict Between Medieval and Renaissance Values Scholar R.

While these angels may be intended as an actual pair of supernatural beings. Magic and the Supernatural The supernatural pervades Doctor Faustus. conjures up grapes. and even fools like the two ostlers. Motifs Motifs are recurring structures. or literary devices that can help to develop and inform the text¶s major themes. He has gained the whole world. earth-shaking ability. the real drama of the play. the magic is almost incidental to the real story of Faustus¶s struggle with himself. but he also aspires to plumb the mysteries of the universe and to remake the map of Europe. It is not that power has corrupted Faustus by making him evil: indeed. They lend a grandeur to Faustus¶s schemes and make his quest for personal power seem almost heroic. takes place within Faustus¶s vacillating mind and soul. though ambitious and glittering. however. Angels and devils flit about. might suggest a contrasting interpretation. but he does not fundamentally reshape the world. which compels Faustus to commit to Mephastophilis but also to question this commitment continually. Furthermore. Robin and Rafe. The good angel and the evil angel. despite all the supernatural frills and pyrotechnics. The magic power that Mephastophilis grants him is more like a toy than an awesome. Faustus¶s behavior after he sells his soul hardly rises to the level of true wickedness. can learn enough magic to summon demons. His internal struggle goes on throughout the play. . Still. magic spells are cast. one can argue that true greatness can be achieved only with God¶s blessing.and mediocrity that follow Faustus¶s pact with the devil. but part of him (the dominant part. The Divided Nature of Man Faustus is constantly undecided about whether he should repent and return to God or continue to follow his pact with Lucifer. gaining absolute power corrupts Faustus by making him mediocre and by transforming his boundless ambition into a meaningless delight in petty celebrity. Faustus plays tricks on people. Instead of the grand designs that he contemplates early on. it seems) lusts after the power that Mephastophilis promises. which Marlowe intended not as a fantastical battle but rather as a realistic portrait of a human being with a will divided between good and evil. both of whom appear at Faustus¶s shoulder in order to urge him in different directions. a sense that is reinforced by the eloquence of his early soliloquies. Faustus is full of ideas for how to use the power that he seeks. if not sympathy. In this sense. modern spirit. appearing everywhere in the story. before he agrees to the pact with Lucifer. but he does not know what to do with it. will lead only to a Faustian dead end. but his ambition is somehow sapped. and explores the cosmos on a dragon. contrasts. By cutting himself off from the creator of the universe. In the Christian framework of the play. Everything is possible to him. Power as a Corrupting Influence Early in the play. he contents him self with performing conjuring tricks for kings and noblemen and takes a strange delight in using his magic to play practical jokes on simple folks. as he descends from grand ambitions to petty conjuring tricks. Rather. Once Faustus actually gains the practically limitless power that he so desires. it is worth noting that nothing terribly significant is accomplished through magic. these plans are ambitious and inspire awe. dragons pull chariots (albeit offstage). Marlowe may be suggesting that the new. He imagines piling up great wealth. as he first sells his soul to Lucifer and then considers repenting. they clearly represent Faustus¶s divided will. Though they may not b entirely e admirable. Faustus is condemned to mediocrity. his horizons seem to narrow. as part of him of wants to do good and serve God. symbolize this struggle.

this sacrifice opened the way for humankind to repent its sins and be saved. Faustus became famous for his ability to discuss theological matters. Prologue Summary: Prologue The Chorus. and how he was educated at Wittenberg. and Jerome¶s Bible. His blood congeals on the page. his own body¶s revolt against what he intends to do. The Chorus adds that Faustus is ³swollen with cunning´ and has begun to practice necromancy. he signs in blood. in which a chorus traditionally comments on the action. enters and introduces the plot of the play. or colors used to represent abstract ideas or concepts. It will involve neither love nor war. Faustus goes through a list of the major fields of human knowledge²logic. which prized authority above all else. in his proud folly. however. the evil angel urging him to follow his lust for power and serve Lucifer. Although we tend to think of a chorus as a group . medicine. of course. a famous German university. symbolizing the permanent and supernatural nature of this pact. in which experimentation and innovation trump the assertions of Greek philosophers and the Bible. perhaps. law. The Chorus chronicles how Faustus was born to lowly parents in the small town of Rhode. Meanwhile. Blood Blood plays multiple symbolic roles in the play. Justinian. in favor of a more modern spirit of free inquiry. symbolizing. This rejection symbolizes Faustus¶s break with the medieval world. he tells us.Practical Jokes Once he gains his awesome powers. part of which wants to do good and part of which is sunk in sin. and Marlowe uses them to illustrate Faustus¶s decline from a great. figures. He then rejects all of these figures in favor of magic. fails to take this path to salvation. The Prologue concludes by stating that Faustus is seated in his study. characters. When Faustus signs away his soul. or black magic (Prologue. Faustus does not use them to do great deeds. The Good Angel and the Evil Angel The angels appear at Faustus¶s shoulder early on in the play²the good angel urging him to repent and serve God. how he came to the town of Wittenberg to live with his kinsmen. Analysis: Prologue The Chorus¶s introduction to the play links Doctor Faustus to the tradition of Greek tragedy. a single actor. Such magical practical jokes seem to be Faustus¶s chief amusement. Symbols Symbols are objects. prideful scholar into a bored. and theology²and cites for each an ancient authority (Aristotle. Faustus¶s Rejection of the Ancient Authorities In scene 1. The two symbolize his divided will. symbolizes the sacrifice that Jesus. After earning the title of doctor of divinity. he delights in playing tricks on people: he makes horns sprout from the knight¶s head and sells the horsecourser an enchanted horse. made on the cross. Christ¶s blood. Instead. according to Christian belief. Galen.8). but instead will trace the ³form of Faustus¶ fortunes´ (Prologue. mediocre magician with no higher ambition than to have a laugh at the expense of a collection of simpletons. respectively).20). Faustus. which Faustus says he sees running across the sky during his terrible last night.

but notes that disputing well seems to be the only goal of logic. a good angel and an evil angel visit Faustus. Faustus will ³mount above his reach´ and suffer the consequences (Prologue. where humanistic values hold sway. Daedalus.of people or singers. to help him learn the art of magic. it is clear that Faustus is going to heed the evil spirit. But this play. While they are on their way. Faustus reflects on the most rewarding type of scholarship. The way that the Chorus introduces Faustus. and Faustus greets them. He then dismisses religion and fixes his mind on magic. quoting the Byzantine emperor Justinian. Scene 1 Summary: Scene 1 These metaphysics of magicians. causing his wings to melt and sending him plunging to his death. Faustus imagines sending spirits to the end of the world to fetch him jewels and delicacies. a boy whose father. since it reflects a commitment to Renaissance values. and. will focus not on ancient battles between Rome and Carthage. the play¶s protagonist. quoting the Greek philosopher Aristotle. is as important as any king or warrior. Valdes lists a number of texts that Faustus should read. we are to witness the life of an ordinary man. He considers law. born to humble parents. logic is not scholarly enough for him. Classical and medieval literature typically focuses on the lives of the great and famous² saints or kings or ancient heroes. but he quotes from St. Jerome¶s Bible that all men sin and finds the Bible¶s assertion that ³[t]he reward of sin is death´ an unacceptable doctrine. the Chorus insists. a common-born scholar. Here. The good angel urges him to set aside his book of magic and read the Scriptures instead. the evil angel encourages him to go forward in his pursuit of the black arts.136±137). Wagner. it can also be composed of only one character. the focus turned toward the study of humankind and the natural world. declaring that he has set aside all other forms of learning in favor of magic. but dismisses law as too petty. the study of religion and theology. is significant. Icarus did not heed his father¶s warning and flew too close the sun. Divinity. which. enters as his master finishes speaking. They agree to teach Faustus the principles of the dark arts and describe the wondrous powers that will be his if he remains committed during his quest to learn magic. Faustus¶s servant. since he exults at the great powers that the magical arts will bring him. Instead. Faustus¶s friends. he believes will make him ³a mighty god´ (1. or on the ³courts of kings´ or the ³pomp of proud audacious deeds´ (Prologue. The story that we are about to see is compared to the Greek myth of Icarus. Valdes and Cornelius appear. quoting the Greek physician Galen. Cornelius tells him that ³[t]he miracles that magic will perform / Will make thee vow to study nothing else´ (1. The message is clear: in the new world of the Renaissance. and using magic to make himself king of all Germany. and decides that medicine. gave him wings made out of feathers and beeswax. After they vanish.21). since Faustus¶s debating skills are already good. He considers medicine. The European Renaissance of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries witnessed a rebirth of interest in classical learning and inaugurated a new emphasis on the individual in painting and literature. seems to offer wider vistas.4±5). the focus of scholarship was on God and theology. in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Faustus asks Wagner to bring Valdes and Cornelius. and his story is just as worthy of being told. an ordinary man like Faustus. He first considers logic. and the two friends promise . The Prologue locates its drama squarely in the Renaissance world. when properly pursued.62). having them teach him secret knowledge. the Chorus tells us. culminating in the birth of modern science in the work of men like Galileo Galilei and Isaac Newton. And necromantic books are heavenly! (See Important Quotations Explained) In a long soliloquy. In the same way. the Chorus not only gives us background information about Faustus¶s life and education but also explicitly tells us that his swelling pride will lead to his downfall. In the medieval era that preceded the Renaissance. with its possibility of achieving miraculous cures. dealing with trivial matters rather than larger ones. is the most fruitful pursuit²yet he notes that he has achieved great renown as a doctor already and that this fame has not brought him satisfaction.

Faustus establishes a hierarchy of disciplines by showing which are nobler than others. Am not tormented with ten thousand hells In being deprived of everlasting bliss? (See Important Quotations Explained) . he quotes selectively from the New Testament. He wants higher things. he envisions magic and necromancy as the crowning discipline. He reads that ³[t]he reward of sin is death. for example. Marlowe imbues him with tragic grandeur in these early scenes. While the reader or playgoer is not expected to approve of his quest. the actual uses to which he puts his magical powers are disappointing and tawdry. which states. Thus. wealth. his ambitions are impressive. Faustus is not a villain.29). In his initial speech. however. He offers a long list of impressive goals. The logic he uses to reject religion may be flawed. then.48). adieu!´ (1.49±50). inspiring language. fearing that Faustus may also be falling into ³that damned art´ as well (2. Scenes 2±4 Summary: Scene 2 Two scholars come to see Faustus. that he believes he will achieve once he has mastered the dark arts. ³If we confess our sins. even if he pursues it through diabolical means. to say the least. In proceeding through the various intellectual disciplines and citing authorities for each. through selective quoting. nor does he want to protect their property through law. as he sets aside each of the old authorities and resolves to strike out on his own in his quest to become powerful through magic. Faustus¶s dreams inspire wonder. and political power. This soliloquy. help him become better at magic than even they are. / We deceive ourselves. Wagner makes jokes at their expense and then tells them that Faustus is meeting with Valdes and Cornelius.´ and that ³[i]f we say we that we have no sin. and they exit. Marlowe uses Faustus¶s own words to expose Faustus¶s blind spots. his rhetoric outlines the modern quest for control over nature (albeit through magic rather than through science) in glowing. he 1 declares without a trace of irony. he is following the dictates of medieval scholarship. He does not want merely to protect men¶s bodies through medicine. who saw the face of God. though. Analysis: Scene 1 The scene now shifts to Faustus¶s study. however. including the acquisition of knowledge. There. he uses religious language²as he does throughout the play²to describe the dark world of necromancy that he enters. he is a tragic hero. As is true throughout the play. Faustus makes it seem as though religion promises only death and not forgiveness. ³These metaphysics of magicians / And necromantic books are heavenly´ ( .40±43). but there is something impressive in the breadth of his ambition. Summary: Scene 3 Think¶st thou that I. a protagonist whose character flaws lead to his downfall. and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness´ (1 John 1:9). picking out only those passages that make Christianity appear in a negative light. Faustus invites them to dine with him. and there is no truth in us´ (1. and so he proceeds on to religion. the scholars leave with heavy hearts. Aware that Valdes and Cornelius are infamous for their involvement in the black arts. [God] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins. and so he easily rejects religion with a fatalistic ³What will be. which held that learning was based on the authority of the wise rather than on experimentation and new ideas. The second of these lines comes from the first book of John. Having gone upward from medicine and law to theology. and Faustus¶s opening speech about the various fields of scholarship reflects the academic setting of the scene. Later. shall be! Divinity. marks Faustus¶s rejection of this medieval model. In Faustus¶s long speech after the two angels have whispered in his ears. For now. even though by most standards it would be the least noble. And tasted the eternal joys of heaven. but Faustus neglects to read the very next line.

Mephastophilis then reappears. dressed as a monk. Faustus now takes the first step toward selling his soul when he conjures up a devil. hoping that Faustus¶s soul was available for the taking. the clown abruptly changes his mind. suggesting that hell is waiting for him to make the first move before pouncing on him. Mephastophilis insists. After Wagner dismisses the devils. 3 Mephastophilis offers a powerful portrait of hell that seems to warn against any pact with Lucifer. The clown is poor. The devil Mephastophilis then appears before Faustus. Faustus remarks that if he had ³as many souls as there be stars. In scene 3. Faustus dismisses this sentiment as a lack of fortitude on Mephastophilis¶s part and then declares that he will offer his soul to Lucifer in return for twenty-four years of Mephastophilis¶s service. Neither Mephastophilis nor Lucifer forces him to do anything against his will. but Mephastophilis says that he is Lucifer¶s servant and can obey only Lucifer.102). Seeing the devils. is hell enough.´ he would offer them all to hell in return for the kind of power that Mephastophilis offers him (3.´ Analysis: Scenes 2±4 Having learned the necessary arts from Cornelius and Valdes. and Faustus remarks on his obedience. When Faustus asks him how it is that he is allowed to leave hell in order to come to earth. and he then conjures up two devils. he is watched by Lucifer and four lesser devils. even when they are on earth. / « from the face of heaven´ ( . who commands him to depart and return dressed as a Franciscan friar. He adds that he came because he heard Faustus deny obedience to God and hoped to capture his soul. Faustus himself makes the first move. Wagner threatens to cast a spell on him. Summary: Scene 4 Wagner converses with a clown and tries to persuade him to become his servant for seven years. Think¶st thou that I. Lucifer. Mephastophilis famously says: Why this is hell. Faustus quizzes Mephastophilis about Lucifer and hell and learns that Lucifer and all his devils were once angels who rebelled against God and have been damned to hell forever. Faustus renounces heaven and God. . And tasted the eternal joys of heaven. who he says will carry the clown away to hell unless he becomes Wagner¶s servant. Indeed. Four devils and Lucifer. Furthermore. Mephastophilis vanishes. the ruler of hell. the clown asks his new master if he can learn to conjure as well. which they once enjoyed. since ³[t]hat holy shape becomes a devil best´ (3. nor am I out of it. is less powerful than God. Left alone. if anything. swears allegiance to hell.That night. But while the demons may be active agents eagerly seeking to seize Faustus¶s soul. and he chants in Latin. He eagerly awaits Mephastophilis¶s return. the clown answers that it would have to be well-seasoned mutton. and Wagner promises to teach him how to turn himself into any kind of animal²but he insists on being called ³Master Wagner. as Faustus makes the magical marks and chants the magical words that summon Mephastophilis. He willingly tells Faustus that his master. Faustus points out that Mephastophilis is not in hell now but on earth. Faustus stands in a magical circle marked with various signs and words. Mephastophilis echoes this idea when he insists that he came to Faustus of his own accord when he heard Faustus curse God and forswear heaven. that he and his fellow demons are always in hell. One of the central questions in the play is whether Faustus damns himself entirely on his own or whether the princes of hell somehow entrap him.67±68). After first agreeing to be Wagner¶s servant. and demands that Mephastophilis rise to serve him. having been thrown ³by aspiring pride and insolence. Mephastophilis agrees to take this offer to his master and departs. who saw the face of God. because being deprived of the presence of God. Faustus demands his obedience. Mephastophilis seems far less eager to make the bargain than Faustus himself. watch him from the shadows.26). and asks Faustus what he desires. and Wagner jokes that he would probably sell his soul to the devil for a shoulder of mutton. however. the clown becomes terrified and agrees to Wagner¶s demands. however.

and Wagner uses his newly gained conjuring skill to frighten the clown into serving him. There is a desperate naïveté to Faustus¶s approach to the demonic: he cannot seem to accept that hell is really as bad as it seems. The clown jokes that he would sell his soul to the devil for a well-seasoned shoulder of mutton. Faustus sees the world as he wants to see it rather than as it is. while he is gone. which makes looking upon him easier. who tells him that Lucifer has accepted his offer of his soul in exchange for twenty-four years of service. fly´ (5. But where Faustus is grand and ambitious and tragic. pitched at Marlowe¶s fiercely Protestant English audience.85).76±80) Mephastophilis exposes the horrors of his own experience as if offering sage guidance to Faustus. this episode is a dig at Catholicism. Faustus¶s grandeur diminishes. when he tries to write the deed his blood congeals. and heavenly things. he exhibits the blindness that serves as one of his defining characteristics throughout the play. Faustus then calls back Mephastophilis. Mephastophilis goes to fetch fire in order to loosen the blood. While Faustus wonders where he should fly Mephastophilis presents a group of devils. As the play progresses. Faustus blithely dismisses what Mephastophilis has said. The good angel tells him to abandon his plan and ³think of heaven. Faustus decides to make the bargain. Faustus asks Mephastophilis why Lucifer wants his soul. when Mephastophilis has finished telling him of the horrors of hell and urging him not to sell his soul. and he sinks down toward the level of the clowns. His honesty in mentioning the ³ten thousand hells´ that torment him shines a negative light on the action of committing one¶s soul to Lucifer. When Mephastophilis returns. saying that God does not love him (5. reappear as a Franciscan friar. Like Faustus. In part. But Faustus refuses to leave his desires. and. accusing him of lacking ³manly fortitude´ (3. but rather than flee in terror he tells Mephastophilis to change his appearance. suggesting that degradati n precedes o damnation.77). Faustus signs the deed and then discovers an inscription on his arm that reads ³Homo fuge. Indeed. Again. Mephastophilis even tells Faustus to abandon his ³frivolous demands´ (3. but the evil angel convinces him that the wealth he can gain through his deal with the devil is worth the cost. seeking mutton and the ability to turn into a mouse or a rat rather than world power or fantastic wealth. these are trifles and mere old wives¶ tales. and Mephastophilis tells him that Lucifer seeks to enlarge his kingdom and make humans suffer even as he suffers.20). which propels him forward into darkness.´ Latin for ³O man. who is presumably hideous. Faustus endures another bout of indecision. He sees the devil¶s true shape. with the good one again urging Faustus to think of heaven.Am not tormented with ten thousand hells In being deprived of everlasting bliss? (3. This shunning of reality is symbolized by his insistence that Mephastophilis.´ but he dismisses the good angel¶s words. these clownish characters (whose scenes are so different from the rest of the play that some writers have suggested that they were written by a collaborator rather than by Marlowe himself) use magic to summon demons. but it also shows to what lengths Faustus will go in order to mitigate the horrors of hell. Faustus begins to waver in his conviction to sell his soul. and he stabs his arm in order to write the deed in blood. as he wonders if his own blood is attempting to warn him not to sell his soul. Instead. making writing impossible. However. The good and evil angels make another appearance. who cover Faustus with crowns and rich . Scenes 5±6 Summary: Scene 5 Think¶st thou that Faustus is so fond to imagine That after this life there is any pain? Tush.81). The antics of Wagner and the clown provide a comic counterpoint to the Faustus Mephastophilis scenes. they are low and common and absurd. though.

196). and finally Lechery²appears before Faustus and makes a brief speech. He then begins to ask Mephastophilis questions about the planets and the heavens. Sometimes it is the lure of knowledge and riches that prevents him from turning to God. preventing him from signing the compact. Despite this awareness. Mephastophilis refuses to reply because the answer is ³against our kingdom´. and again he wonders if it is too late for him to repent. where Robin promises to conjure up any kind of wine that Rafe desires. Mephastophilis departs angrily (5. and Mephastophilis appear to him. Belzebub (another devil). and the good angel says it is never too late for Faustus to repent. When Faustus appeals to Christ to save his soul. saying that hell is everywhere that the damned are cut off from God eternally. for he is just. Amid all these signs. These are the words of rationalism or even atheism²both odd . though. Belzebub. His body seems to rebel against the choices that he has made²his blood congeals. The sight of the sins delights Faustus¶s soul. Faustus is repeatedly filled with misgivings. ³O Faustus. Sometimes Faustus seems to understand the gravity of what he is doing: when Lucifer. and he asks to see hell. and Faustus realizes that ³[m]y heart¶s so hardened I cannot repent!´ ( 5. his willingness to dismiss the pains of hell continues. Mephastophilis offers Faustus a she-devil.Faustus puts aside his doubts. Robin. At Faustus¶s request for a wife. At the same time. which he treats as sources of entertainment rather than of moral warning. Faustus asks his new servant where hell is located. . Meanwhile. The good and evil angels enter once more. as he tells Mephastophilis that ³I think hell¶s a fable / . however. Lucifer declares that ³Christ cannot save thy soul. . He continues explaining. Mephastophilis answers all his queries willingly. Gluttony. but Faustus refuses. a stablehand. a conviction that persists throughout the play. Faustus¶s sense that he is already damned can be traced back to his earlier misreading of the New Testament to say that anyone who sins will be damned eternally²ignoring the verses that offer the hope of repentance. they are come to fetch thy soul!´ (5. He hands over the deed.247). Envy. God would cast him down to hell. Faustus repeatedly considers repenting but each time decides against it. and he is trying to learn the spells. Sloth. He calls in an innkeeper named Rafe.260). as the inscription on his arm seems to advise him to do. he becomes suddenly afraid and exclaims. Faustus then turns his mind to God. For the meantime he gives Faustus a book that teaches him how to change his shape. Faustus once again wavers and leans toward repentance as he contemplates the wonders of heaven from which he has cut himself off. when Faustus presses him. has found one of Faustus¶s conjuring books. for example. Mephastophilis then gives him a book of magic spells and tells him to read it carefully. Analysis: Scenes 5±6 Even as he seals the bargain that promises his soul to hell. and Mephastophilis enter. The good and evil angels appear again. Each sin²Pride. these are trifles and mere old wives¶ tales´ (5.garments.126±135). Faustus is unable to commit to good. Faustus begins to appeal to Christ for mercy. which are bluntly symbolized in the verbal duels between the good and evil angels.264). and Mephastophilis says that it has no exact location but exists everywhere. / Tush. Wrath. which promises his body and soul to Lucifer in exchange for twenty-four years of constant service from Mephastophilis. Covetousness. and the two go to a bar together. Lucifer promises to take him there that night. Faustus remarks that he thinks hell is a myth. We can see it in his delighted reaction to the appalling personifications of the Seven Deadly Sins. for example.´ and orders Faustus to cease thinking about God and think only of the devil (5. He believes that God does not love him and that if he were to fly away to God. but then Lucifer. until Faustus asks who made the world. Summary: Scene 6 Meanwhile. Faustus¶s earlier blindness persists. They tell Faustus to stop thinking of God and then present a show of the Seven Deadly Sins. but other times it seems to be his conviction²encouraged by the bad angel and Mephastophilis²that it is already too late for him. and a written warning telling him to fly away appears on his arm. After he turns in the deed.

both invisible. the limits of the demonic gifts that Faustus has been given begin to emerge. and the pope and all his attendants run away. the pope sends them to the dungeon. The pope and his attendants then sit down to dinner. His rejection of God is also evident when he says. his cosmos seems to become inverted. in Act III. Mephastophilis refuses to answer. Once Faustus has signed away his soul. He asks Mephastophilis if they have arrived in Rome. He thinks that he is already separated from God permanently and reasons that hell cannot be any worse.´ which were Christ¶s dying words on the cross (5. watch the proceedings and chuckle. of course. Faustus and Mephastophilis disguise themselves as cardinals and come before the pope. whose monuments he greatly desires to see.74). who had attempted to become pope with the backing of the German emperor. After Faustus has signed his deed. Faustus boxes the pope¶s ear. of the crucified Christ. The A text omits the events described in the next two paragraphs but resumes with the events described immediately after them. is that the pact he has made completely detaches him from God.´ meaning ³it is finished. he swears by Lucifer rather than God: ³Ay. Later. Wagner tells us that Faustus is now traveling to measure the coasts and kingdoms of the world and that his travels will take him to Rome. but when Faustus asks who created the world. The central irony. The pope gives Bruno to them. Note: The events described in the next two paragraphs occur only in the B text of Doctor Faustus. given that he is summoning devils. When the cardinals say that they never were given custody of Bruno. recounting to Mephastophilis his travels throughout Europe²first from Germany to France and then on to Italy. The churchmen suspect that there is some ghost in the room. with Lucifer taking the place of God and blasphemy replacing piety. the pope confronts the two cardinals whom Faustus and Mephastophilis have impersonated.112). Faustus and Mephastophilis. take it. and Faustus and Mephastophilis agree to use their powers to play tricks on the pope. Summary: Scene 7 Faustus appears. or wounds. toward God. Bruno. He is given the gift of knowledge. much to the dismay of Faustus and Mephastophilis. instead. A group of friars enters. But Faustus¶s real mistake is to misinterpret what Mephastophilis tells him about hell. to celebrate the pope¶s victories. Faustus and Mephastophilis make themselves invisible and curse noisily and then snatch dishes and food as they are passed around the table. and Mephastophilis replies that the are in the pope¶s privy y chamber. Faustus has nowhere to go but down. During the meal. the pope comes in with his attendants and a prisoner. scene i. and Mephastophilis willingly tells him the secrets of astronomy.ideologies for Faustus to espouse. and the pope begins to cross himself. telling them to carry him off to prison. Even Faustus¶s arm stabbing alludes to the stigmata. they give him a fast horse and send him back to Germany. As Faustus and Mephastophilis watch. Chorus 2±Scene 8 Summary: Chorus 2 Wagner takes the stage and describes how Faustus traveled through the heavens on a chariot pulled by dragons in order to learn the secrets of astronomy. With access to higher things thus closed off. It is a day of feasting in Rome. While the pope declares that he will depose the emperor and forces Bruno to swear allegiance to him. Meanwhile. and they sing a dirge damning the . ³Consummatum est. Faustus takes Mephastophilis¶s statement that hell is everywhere for him because he is separated eternally from God to mean that hell will be merely a continuation of his earthly existence. and the devil give thee good on¶t´ (5. The symbolism is clear: all the worldly knowledge that Faustus has so strongly desired points inexorably upward.

with Faustus coming to resemble a clown more and more. The absurd behavior of Robin and Rafe. Meanwhile. Mephastophilis says. to cosmography. The fear-imposing power these religious symbols have over Mephastophilis suggests that God remains stronger than the devil and that perhaps Faustus could still be saved. When the pope and his monks begin to rain curses on their invisible tormentors. which makes them symbols of Christianity and sets their piety in opposition to Faustus¶s devil-inspired magic. the study of the earth. but through his own folly and not the curses of monks or the pope. the pope and his attendants do possess some kind of divinely sanctioned power. they treat it as a great joke. and bell / Forward and backward.83±84). which makes the vintner flee. in the second chorus. Analysis: Chorus 2±Scene 8 The scenes in Rome are preceded by Wagner¶s account. Summary: Scene 8 Robin the ostler.81±82). and he threatens to turn the two into an ape and a dog. like boxing the pope¶s ear. book. Yet the contrast between Faustus on the one hand and the ostlers and the clown on the other. Chorus 3±Scene 9 . Such foolishness is quite a step down for a man who earlier speaks of using his magic to become ruler of Germany. Yet the absurdity of the scene coexists with a suggestion that. and then Robin conjures up Mephastophilis. is not so great as it is originally. Although Faustus does step into the political realm when he frees Bruno and sends him back to Germany.unknown spirit that has disrupted the meal. Mephastophilis is not pleased to have been summoned for a prank. to curse Faustus to hell´²is fraught with foreshadowing (7. The two friends treat what they have done as a joke. This feat is easily the most impressive that Faustus performs in the entire play. Faustus¶s reply²³Bell. saying that he will go to join Faustus in Turkey. if he repented in spite of everything. Faustus¶s interactions with the pope and his courtiers offer another send -up of the Catholic Church. of how Faustus traveled through the heavens studying astronomy. not as part of any real political pursuit. the high and the low. meanwhile. ³[W]e shall be cursed wi h bell. and t candle´ (7. Hell. is exactly where Faustus is ³curse[d]´ to go. his chief interests are playing practical jokes and producing impressive illusions for nobles²a far cry from the ambitious pursuits that he outlines in scene 1. fling fireworks among them. Faustus and Mephastophilis seem to fear the power that their words invoke. ridiculous as they are. of course. and Mephastophilis leaves in a fury. Marlowe makes a laughingstock out of the head of the Catholic Church. the study of the heavens. Robin and Rafe conjure up Mephastophilis in order to scare off a vintner. and flee. By the end of the play. They claim not to have it. and his friend Rafe have stolen a cup from a tavern. since his magical abilities seem more and more like cheap conjured tricks as the play progresses. and even when he threatens to turn them into animals (or actually does so temporarily²the text is unclear on this matter). book and candle. By having the invisible Faustus box the papal ears and disrupt the papal banquet. The degradation of Faustus¶s initially heroic aims continues as the play proceeds. or stablehand. once again contrasts with Faustus¶s relationship to the diabolical. He even begins to meddle in political matters in the assistance he gives Bruno (in the B text only). The pope¶s grasping ambition and desire for worldly power would have played into late sixteenth-century English stereotypes. / book. this action seems to be carried out as part of the cruel practical joke on the pope. They are pursued by a vintner (or wine-maker). his interests also diminish in importance from astronomy. candle. Mephastophilis and Faustus beat the friars. who demands that they return the cup. since Faustus too has begun using magic in pursuit of practical jokes.

The emperor tells Faustus that he would like to see Alexander the Great and his lover. scenes iii±iv. The German emperor. Then. At the court of the emperor.Summary: Chorus 3 The Chorus enters to inform us that Faustus has returned home to Germany and developed his fame by explaining what he learned during the course of his journey. Charles V. the soldiers come in. When Faustus enters. Faustus complies. watching from above. The A text omits the events described in the first two paragraphs but resumes with the events described immediately after them. in Act IV. salutes the emperor). so that the world will see what happens to people who attack Faustus. Frederick. The summary below corresponds to Act IV. Faustus creates a vision of Alexander embracing his lover (in the B text. Before the eyes of the court. also appears. express horror at the fate that has befallen them. Frederick goes out with the soldiers to scout and returns with word that Faustus is coming toward them and that he is alone. Martino and Frederick. But then Faustus rises with his head restored. Faustus tells him that he cannot produce their actual bodies but can create spirits resembling them. discuss the imminent arrival of Bruno and Faustus. reconsidering. he orders them instead to punish Benvolio and his friends by dragging them through thorns and hurling them off of cliffs. He summons Mephastophilis. the famous conqueror. Faustus comes before the emperor. Summary: Scene 9 Note: The events described in the first two paragraphs of this summary occur only in the B text of Doctor Faustus. who thanks him for having freed Bruno from the clutches of the pope. Alexander defeats Darius and then. Benvolio. He and his friends rejoic and they plan the further e. scenes i±ii. and all three of them now have horns sprouting from their heads. Faustus conjures a pair of antlers onto the head of the knight (again. the Persian king Darius. in the B text. Martino remarks that Faustus has promised to conjure up Alexander the Great. has heard of Faustus and invited him to his palace. A knight present in the court (Benvolio in the B text) is skeptical. . remarks to himself that Faustus looks nothing like what he would expect a conjurer to look like. and asserts that it is as untrue that Faustus can perform this feat as that the goddess Diana has transformed the knight into a stag. two gentlemen. indignities that they will visit on Faustus¶s corpse. Benvolio. since his life belongs to Mephastophilis and cannot be taken by anyone else. The knight pleads for mercy. They resolve to ambush Faustus as he leaves the court of the emperor and to take the treasures that the emperor has given Faustus. They greet one another unhappily. and Faustus summons up another clutch of demons to drive them off. and agree to conceal themselves in a castle rather than face the scorn of the world. His friends try to dissuade him. Benvolio stabs him and cuts off his head. because he has a hangover. They are bruised and bloody from having been chased and harried by the devils. Benvolio. Benvolio plots an attack against Faustus. As the men and devils leave. but he is so furious at the damage done to his reputation that he will not listen to reason. Faustus tells them that they are fools. and Martino reappear. and the emperor entreats Faustus to remove the horns. where we next encounter him. Alexander¶s great rival. and orders the devils to carry his attackers off to hell. who arrives with a group of lesser devils. warning Benvolio to have more respect for scholars in the future. With his friends Martino and Frederick and a group of soldiers. Note: The following scenes do not appear in the A text of Doctor Faustus. but Benvolio declares that he would rather watch the action from his window. along with his lover. The two of them wake another gentleman. Benvolio in the B text). Faustus acknowledges the gratitude and then says that he stands ready to fulfill any wish that the emperor might have. and tell him to come down and see the new arrivals.

Faustus has become a kind of sixteenth-century celebrity. hellish fate is drawing ever closer. screaming bloody murder. Still. he essentially performs conjuring tricks to entertain the monarch. without any larger political goals behind it. except that Faustus tells the emperor that ³it is not in my ability to present / before your eyes the true substantial bodies of those two deceased / princes´ (9. which is so impressive early in the play. This command shows a hint of Faustus¶s old pride. these decades sweep by remarkably quickly. but both he and we come to realize that it passes rapidly. and the man who earlier boasts that he will divert the River Rhine and reshape the map of Europe now occupies himself with revenging a petty insult by placing horns on the head of the foolish knight. now. By making the years pass so swiftly. Wagner then enters and tells Faustus that the Duke of Vanholt has summoned him. This trick would be extremely impressive. In other words. But Marlowe uses this acceleration to his advantage. sopping wet. though. In the world of the play. Faustus occupies his energies summoning up Alexander the Great. Faustus agrees to go. . Traipsing from court to court. including Germany. The horse-courser takes the leg and runs off. He then pulls on Faustus¶s leg when Faustus will not wake. since we know that Faustus is too powerful to be murdered by a gang of incompetent noblemen. we are still left with the sense that Faustus¶s life is being accelerated at a speed that strains belief. Instead. in this scene or anywhere in the play. is utterly devoid of suspense. With all the power of hell behind him. Yet. Meanwhile. that his too-short lifetime is slipping away from him and his ultimate. produce only impressive illusions. twenty-four years seems long when Faustus makes the pact. so that everyone will see what happens to those who threaten him. Meanwhile. making the noblemen think that they have cut off his head. Faustus gives the horsecourser a good price but warns him not to ride the horse into the water. in Faustus¶s hands. While the Chorus assures us that Faustus visits many other places and learns many other things that we are not shown. Faustus is entirely concerned with his reputation as a fearsome wizard and not with any higher goals.39±41). Even this action (which occurs only in the B text) seems largely a lark. Faustus¶s way of dealing with the threat is telling: he plays a kind of practical joke. Austria. His involvement in the political realm extends only to freeing Bruno. complaining that when he rode his horse into a stream it turned into a heap of straw. meanwhile. and Faustus wakes up. doing tricks for royals. Scenes 10±11 Summary: Scene 10 Faustus. The B-text scene outside the emperor¶s court. We see only three main events from the twenty -four years: Faustus¶s visits to Rome. he and Mephastophilis box the pope¶s ears and disrupt a dinner party.Analysis: Chorus 3±Scene 9 Twenty-four years pass between Faustus¶s pact with Lucifer and the end of the play. only to come back to life and send a collection of devils to hound them. Now. in which Benvolio and his friends try to kill Faustus. the heroic Macedonian conqueror. though. his sights are set considerably lower. At the court of Emperor Charles V (who ruled a vast stretch of territory in the sixteenth century. meets a horse-courser and sells him his horse. The horse-courser reappears. Before he makes the pact with Lucifer. Nothing of substance emerges from Faustus¶s magic. for us. all of Mephastophilis¶s power can. Faustus begins to reflect on the pending expiration of his contract with Lucifer and falls asleep. he takes pleasure in sending Mephastophilis out to hunt down a collection of fools who pose no threat to him and insists that the devils disgrace the men publicly. He decides to get his money back and tries to wake Faustus by hollering in his ear. Faustus¶s leg is immediately restored. and he laughs at the joke that he has played. Charles¶s candidate to be pope. the use to which Faustus puts his powers is unimpressive. more concerned with his public image than with the dreams of greatness that earlier animate him. and they depart together. to the emperor¶s court. In Rome. the play makes us feel what Faustus himself must feel²namely. Faustus speaks of rearranging the geography of Europe or even making himself emperor of Germany. and Spain). and then to the Duke of Vanholt in scene 11. The leg breaks off.

and they depart. just as Faustus¶s feats of magic grow ever more unimpressive. Still. the horse-courser. But if the pursuit of knowledge leads inexorably to God. He continues his journey from court to court. They confront Faustus. taking pleasure in using his unlimited power to perform practical jokes and cast simple charms. The power and importance of his hosts decreases from scene to scene. but Faustus uses magical charms to make them silent. The horse -courser tells his own story. Analysis: Scenes 10±11 Faustus¶s downward spiral. which are strong enough to give even Mephastophilis pause. Robin. He seems to take joy in his petty amusements. it seems that in Marlowe¶s worldview the desire for complete knowledge about the world and power over it can ultimately be reduced to fetching grapes for the Duchess of Vanholt²in other words. The carter agreed to sell him all he could eat for three farthings. into mediocrity. Along the lines of this interpretation. The carter explains that Faustus stopped him on the road and asked to buy some hay to eat. his impending doom . There is no sign that Faustus himself is aware of the gulf between his earlier ambitions and his current state. at the emperor¶s court. Each then launches into a complaint about Faustus¶s treatment of him. Robin declares that he intends to seek out Faustus. Faustus comments that the duchess has not seemed to enjoy the show and asks her what she would like. (In the B text of Doctor Faustus. Over the course of the play we see Faustus go from the seat of the pope to the court of the emperor to the court of a minor nobleman. from tragic greatness to self-indulgent mediocrity. Marlowe¶s Faustus. and Faustus proceeded to eat the entire wagonload of hay. Robin and Rafe have stopped for a drink in a tavern. to nothing. however. Dick. but at least there is grandeur to the idea of it. Even his antagonists have grown increasingly ridiculous. The summary below corresponds to Act IV. when Faustus queries Mephastophilis about the nature of the world. scene vi. arriving this time at Vanholt. though. Just after he seals his pact with Mephastophilis. and they promise to reward Faustus greatly. Marlowe suggests. however. he faces the curses of the pope and his monks. or wagon-driver. he is reduced to playing pointless tricks on the horse-courser and fetching out-of-season grapes to impress a bored noblewoman. Earlier in the play.) The duke and duchess are much pleased with Faustus¶s display. now. laughing uproariously when he confounds the horse-courser and leaping at the chance to visit the Duke of Vanholt. At Vanholt. adding that he took Faustus¶s leg as revenge and that he is keeping it at his home. They listen as a carter. Faustus¶s skill at conjuring up beautiful illusions wins the duke¶s favor. which pushed God to one side and sought mastery over nature and society. can ultimately go nowhere but down. Or perhaps Marlowe is criticizing worldly ambition and. which is whole and healthy. the entire modern project of the Renaissance. who tries to live without God. a minor German duchy. and the horse-courser begins making jokes about what he assumes is Faustus¶s wooden leg. and the worst of it is that Faustus seems to have become one of them. Knowledge of God is against Lucifer¶s kingdom. by extension. has lost his hold on that doomed grandeur and has become pathetic. Selling one¶s soul for power and glory may be foolish or wicked. Faustus then shows them his leg. a clown among clowns. and they are amazed. but only after he has a few more drinks. he faces down an absurd collection of comical rogues. to visit the duke and duchess. Faustus is opposed by a collection of noblemen who are brave. and the hostess from the tavern burst in at this moment. the carter. if unintelligent. and the horse-courser discuss Faustus. Faustus sees his desire for knowledge reach a dead end at God. in the B text. whose power he denies in favor of Lucifer.Note: The following scene does not appear in the A text of Doctor Faustus. then a man like Faustus. according to Mephastophilis. continues in these scenes. The meaning of his decline is ambiguous: perhaps part of the nature of a pact with Lucifer is that one cannot gain all that one hopes to gain from it. Summary: Scene 11 At the court of the Duke of Vanholt. and Faustus has Mephastophilis bring her some grapes. She tells him she would like a dish of ripe grapes. Faustus soars through the heavens on a chariot pulled by dragons to learn the secrets of astronomy. In Rome.

referring to the New Testament story of the thief who was crucified alongside Jesus Christ. to the delight of the scholars. He asks Mephastophilis to punish the old man for trying to dissuade him from continuing in Lucifer¶s service. Faustus then asks Mephastophilis to let him see Helen again.begins to weigh upon him. Faustus becomes distraught. the old man persuades him to appeal to God for mercy. Faustus agrees to produce her. We can easily anticipate that his willingness to delay will prove fatal. and was promised a place in paradise (10. he remarks. Summary: Scene 12 Sweet Helen. since Faustus is not acting like a dying man ²rather. he wants to renounce Mephastophilis. Mephastophilis says that he cannot touch the old man¶s soul but that he will scourge his b ody. Reluctantly. Yet. give me my soul again. Lucifer! I¶ll burn my books²ah. Mephastophilis threatens to shred Faustus to pieces if he does not reconfirm his vow to Lucifer. In other words.24). However. That he compares himself to this figure shows that Faustus assumes that he can wait until the last moment and still escape hell. and an old man enters and tries to persuade Faustus to repent. They are horrified and ask what they can do to save him. One of them asks Faustus if he can produce Helen of Greece (also known as Helen of Troy). saying. they leave to pray for Faustus. he seems convinced that he will repent at the last minute and be saved²a significant change from his earlier attitude. Faustus complies. Summary: Scene 13 Now hast thou but one bare hour to live.28). He then begs God to reduce his time in hell to a thousand years or a hundred thousand years. Chorus 4±Epilogue Summary: Chorus 4 Wagner announces that Faustus must be about to die because he has given Wagner all of his wealth. but not just yet. he is out carousing with scholars. Mephastophilis! The final night of Faustus¶s life has come. and he tells the scholars of the deal he has made with Lucifer. but a man condemned to die?´ (10. but he tells them that there is nothing to be done. Helen herself crosses the stage. Faustus. The last hour passes by quickly. And all is dross that is not Helena! Faustus enters with some of the scholars.3±4).44±46). make me immortal with a kiss: Her lips sucks forth my soul. Here will I dwell. and Mephastophilis hands him a dagger. ³Christ did call the thief upon the cross. repented for his sins. and Faustus makes a great speech about her beauty and kisses her. The scholars leave. and gives the order to Mephastophilis: immediately.´ he comforts himself. But he remains unsure. at this moment at least. so that he might live a little longer and have a chance to repent. A vision of hell opens before Faustus¶s horrified eyes as the clock strikes eleven. when he either denies the existence of hell or assumes that damnation is inescapable. and Faustus exhorts the clocks to slow and time to stop. who they have decided was ³the admirablest lady / that ever lived´ (12. so long as he . ³I see an angel hovers o¶er thy head / And with a vial full of precious grace / Offers to pour the same into thy soul!´ (12. come. Helen enters. see where it flies! Come Helen. for heaven be in these lips. sealing his vow by once again stabbing his arm and inscribing it in blood. Once the old man leaves. ³What art thou. And then thou must be damned perpetually. Ugly hell gape not! Come not. As he sits down to fall asleep.

but the logic of the final scene is not Christian. Moreover. Devils enter and carry Faustus away as he screams. as he asks Helen to make him ³immortal´ by kissin him g (12. Early in the play. and goes on to list all the great things that Faustus would do to win her love (12. up until the moment of death and be saved. he seeks transcendence through magic instead of religion. He wishes that he were a beast and would simply cease to exist when he dies instead of face damnation. Doctor Faustus is a Christian tragedy. He curses his parents for giving birth to him but then owns up to his responsibility and curses himself. who went to war for her hand. In its flowery language and emotional power. Lucifer! / I¶ll burn my books²ah. with the gates of hell literally opening before him. Having squandered his powers in pranks and childish entertainments. he has reached a point at which he cannot imagine breaking free. as his despairing mind rushes from idea to idea.81). and the clock strikes midnight. In his final speech. Still. even in the nextto-last scene.83). Yet this principle does not seem to hold for Marlowe¶s protagonist. which was fought over Helen. Having served Lucifer for so long. an apt symbol for his entire life.. lead inexorably to an understanding of his own guilt.69±71) . The passion of the final speech points to the central question in Doctor Faustus of why Faustus does not repent. asimpressive as this speech is. he deceives himself into believing either that hell is not so bad or that it does not exist. He curses his parents and himself. especially Faustus¶s speech to Helen and his final soliloquy. however. Faustus is clearly wracked with remorse. the next he is imploring Christ for mercy. Now. then Faustus is wasting his last hours dallying with a fantasy image. yet he no longer seems to be able to repent. But he seems almost eager. One moment he is begging time to slow down. Marlowe suggests that Faustus¶s self delusion persists even at the end. Summary: Epilogue The Chorus enters and warns the wise ³[o]nly to wonder at unlawful things´ and not to trade their souls for forbidden knowledge (Epilogue. is difficult to reconcile with lines such as: O. Faustus¶s loyalty to Lucifer could be explained by the fact that he is afraid of having his body torn apart by Mephastophilis. His mind¶s various attempts to escape his doom. then. I¶ll leap up to my God! Who pulls me down? . by the close. Analysis: Chorus 4±Epilogue The final scenes contain some of the most noteworthy speeches in the play. Christian doctrine holds that one can repent for any sin. since Faustus¶s earlier conjuring of historical figures evokes only illusions and not physical beings. He compares himself to the heroes of Greek mythology. however grave. and he ends with a lengthy praise of her beauty. Faustus maintains the same blind spots that lead him down his dark road in the first place. and he even goes a step further when he demands that Mephastophilis punish the old man who urges him to repent. One drop of blood would save my soul. it is not even clear that Helen is real. as his doom approaches. Faustus¶s final speech is the most emotionally powerful scene in the play. before his language and behavior become mediocre and petty.. If Helen too is just an illusion. One moment he is crying out in fear and trying to hide from the wrath of God. the speech marks a return to the eloquence that marks Faustus¶s words in earlier scenes. Faustus regains his eloquence and tragic grandeur in the final scene. the next he is begging to have the eternity of hell lessened eventually saved. Such an argument.112±113).6). Mephastophilis!´ (13. His address to Helen begins with the famous line ³Was this the face that launched a thousand ships. he seeks it through sex and female beauty. Earlier. ³Ugly hell gape not! Come not.´ referring to the Trojan War. to reseal his vows in blood. he still ignores the warnings of his own conscience and of the old man. a physical embodiment of the conscience that plagues him. But. Some critics have tried to deal with this problem by claiming that Faustus does not actually repent in the final speech but that he only speaks wistfully about the possibility of repentance. half a drop: ah my Christ² (13.

that his pact with Lucifer is primarily about a thirst for limitless knowledge²a thirst that is presented as incompatible with Christianity. His cry. he arrives at theology and opens the Bible to the New Testament. and he made his Faustus sympathetic. himself notoriously accused of atheism and various other sins. adieu! These metaphysics of magicians. Si peccasse negamus. so that in the final scene. while still alive. which holds that repentance and salvation are always possible. Why then belike we must sin. Whose fiendful fortune may exhort the wise Only to wonder at unlawful things: Whose deepness doth entice such forward wits To practice more than heavenly power permits. Seeking the highest form of knowledge. If we say that we have no sin. Marlowe had to set down a moment beyond which Faustus could no longer repent. The unhappy Faustus¶s last line returns us to the clash between Renaissance values and medieval values that dominates the early scenes and then recedes as Faustus pursues his mediocre amusements in later scenes. then. Faustus neglects to read the very next line in John. which states. Yet Marlowe. we must die an everlasting death. Important Quotations Explained 1. as he pleads for salvation.´ The logic of these quotations²everyone sins. seeking the precious drop of blood that will save his soul. in which some character flaw cannot be corrected. beginning with logic and proceeding through medicine and law. Faustus is damned.´ and that ³[i]f we say we that we have no sin. Scholarship can be Christian. but only within limits. may have had other ideas. the play suggests. And so consequently die. Ay. and to cleanse us from all .40±50) Faustus speaks these lines near the end of his opening soliloquy. Ultimately. et nulla est in nobis veritas. / We deceive ourselves. adieu!´ However. fallimur. where he quotes from Romans and the first book of John. While his play shows how the untrammeled pursuit of knowledge and power can be corrupting. if not necessarily admirable. and there¶s no truth in us. even by appealing to God.4±8) In the duel between Christendom and the rising modern spirit. To make Doctor Faustus a true tragedy. and sin leads to death²makes it seem as though Christianity can promise only death. [God] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins. As the Chorus says in its final speech: Faustus is gone! Regard his hellish fall. then. the ending of Doctor Faustus represents a clash between Christianity. (Epilogue. waiting for others to follow. he can be damned and conscious of his damnation. and there¶s no truth in us. he considers various fields of study one by one. and the dictates of tragedy. And necromantic books are heavenly! (1. The idea of Christian tragedy. He reads that ³[t]he reward of sin is death. ³If we confess our sins. Yet some unseen force²whether inside or outside him²prevents him from giving himself to God. In this speech. People may suffer²as Christ himself did²but for those who repent. salvation eventually awaits. as Christianity is ultimately uplifting. shall be! Divinity. What doctrine call you this? Che sarà. We deceive ourselves. Marlowe¶s play seems to come down squarely on the side of Christianity. sarà: What will be. for the first time since early scenes. shall be! Divinity. which leads Faustus to give in to the fatalistic ³What will be. it also shows the grandeur of such a quest. is paradoxical.Faustus appears to be calling on Christ. The reward of sin is death? That¶s hard. but the gates that he opens remain standing wide. that he will burn his books suggests.

and as he then proceeds to dismiss Mephastophilis¶s words blithely.76±86) This exchange shows Faustus at his most willfully blind.. he is damned forever for his sin. All places shall be hell that is not heaven. urging him to have ³manly fortitude. MEPHASTOPHILISs. Of course. Think¶st thou that I. He is a secular Renaissance man. telling him to ³leave these frivolous demands. FAUSTUS: Come. till experience change thy mind. Faustus ignores the possibility of redemption. We know that he is committed to Faustus¶s damnation²he has appeared to Faustus because of his hope that Faustus will renounce God and swear allegiance to Lucifer.: Hell hath no limits. Mephastophilis was once prideful and rebelled against God. who saw the face of God. making black magic ³heavenly´ and religion the source of ³everlasting death. By ignoring this passage.120±135) This exchange again shows Mephastophilis warning Faustus about the horrors of hell. Which strike a terror to my fainting soul. And tasted the eternal joys of heaven.. Yet here Mephastophilis seems to be urging Faustus against selling his soul. / And necromant c books are i heavenly.. This blindness is apparent in the very next line of his speech: having turned his back on heaven. I think hell¶s a fable. nor am I out of it.´ 2. so disdainful of traditional religion that he believes hell to be a ³fable´ even when he is conversing with a devil. MEPHASTOPHILIS: Why this is hell. And where hell is. their exchange is less significant for what Mephastophilis says about hell than for Faustus¶s response to him. . and this knowledge drives him. is great Mephastophilis so passionate For being deprivèd of the joys of heaven? Learn thou of Faustus manly fortitude. as he listens to Mephastophilis describe how awful hell is for him even as a devil. We are constantly given indications that Faustus doesn¶t really understand what he is doing. and here we see part of Marlowe¶s explanation. but Faustus has a fallback position. FAUSTUS: Think¶st thou that Faustus is so fond to imagine That after this life there is any pain? Tush. And scorn those joys thou never shalt possess. Why anyone would make a pact with the devil is one of the most vexing questions surrounding Doctor Faustus. . Faustus takes Mephastophilis¶s assertion that hell will be ³[a]ll places « that is not heaven´ to mean that hell will just be a continuation of life on earth. (5. Just as Faustus now is. (3. think so still. these are trifles and mere old wives¶ tales. nor is circumscribed In one self-place.´ He thus inverts the cosmos. / Which strike a terror to my fainting soul. leave these frivolous demands. just as he ignores it throughout the play. Faustus has blind spots. MEPHASTOPHILIS. though. . in spite of himself. there must we ever be.´ But the dialogue also shows Mephastophilis in a peculiar light. such a belief is difficult to maintain when one is trafficking in the supernatural. for where we are is hell.´ There is a parallel between the experience of Mephastophilis and that of Faustus.´ He knows all too well the terrible reality.unrighteousness´ (1 John 1:9). FAUSTUS:What. This time.:Ay. Am not tormented with ten thousand hells In being deprived of everlasting bliss? O Faustus. 3. Mephastophilis cannot accept Faustus¶s cheerful dismissal of hell in the name of ³manly fortitude. to warn Faustus away from his t-errible course. he sees what he wants to see rather than what is really there. he pretends that ³[t]hese metaphysics of magicians.. Perhaps because of this connection. like Faustus.

he dismisses religious transcendence in favor of magic. and Faustus must be damned. come. .. gape! O no. repentance. is not yet damned and still has the possibility of repentance.81±87) These lines come from a speech that Faustus makes as he nears the end of his life and begins to realize the terrible nature of the bargain he has made.. make me immortal with a kiss: Her lips sucks forth my soul. O I¶ll leap up to my God! Who pulls me down? See. at best.. half a drop: ah my Christ² Ah. offer only earthly pleasure. time runs. 5. one who may be an illusion and not even real flesh and blood. the clock will strike. That hath deprived thee of the joys of heaven. see where Christ¶s blood streams in the firmament! One drop would save my soul.. if thou wilt not have mercy on my soul.. He cannot yet understand the torture against which Mephastophilis warns him. .. Faustus. even as he continues to keep his back turned to his only hope for escaping damnation²namely.He fails to understand the difference between him and Mephastophilis: unlike Mephastophilis. And then thou must be damned perpetually. And burnt the topless towers of Ilium? Sweet Helen. That when you vomit forth into the air My limbs may issue from your smoky mouths.. A hundred thousand. fatally.. despite his pact with Lucifer. Here will I dwell.. Whose influence hath allotted death and hell. Lucifer! . and imagines. Faustus continues to display the same blind spots and wishful thinking that characterize his behavior throughout the drama.´ he cries. Yet will I call on him²O spare me. curse thy self. for heaven be in these lips. Earth. and at last be saved. . He seeks heavenly grace in Helen¶s lips. who has lost heaven permanently. Now hast thou but one bare hour to live. ³[M]ake me immortal with a kiss. And all is dross that is not Helena! (12. The devil will come. curse Lucifer. see where it flies! Come Helen. as the delight he takes in conjuring up Helen makes clear.. Cursed be the parents that engendered me: No. Despite his sense of foreboding. While the speech marks a return to the eloquence that he shows early in the play. The stars move still. . 4. rend not my heart for naming of my Christ. give me my soul again.. Was this the face that launched a thousand ships.. Let Faustus live in hell a thousand years. after squandering his powers in petty. it will not harbor me. Now draw up Faustus like a foggy mist Into the entrails of yon laboring cloud. now. . Faustus. So that my soul may but ascend to heaven. . You stars that reigned at my nativity. At the beginning of the play. O God. he looks for transcendence in a woman. which can. Ah Faustus. selfindulgent behavior. Faustus enjoys his powers. that he already knows the worst of what hell will be.

and damnation. Faustus¶s rejection of the ancient authorities. Faustus¶s last line aptly expresses the play¶s representation of a clash between Renaissance and medieval values. but the desire to repent begins to plague him as the fear of hell grows in him. curse thy self. Faustus seems to give in to the Christian worldview. Faustus would be allowed a chance at redemption even at the very end.57±113) These lines come from Faustus¶s final speech. the good angel and the evil angel . As he is carried off to hell. for the first time since scene 2. He is damned. in other words. ³I¶ll burn my books. with occasional moments of low comedy tense · The Chorus.´ Faustus cries as the devils come for him. rising action · Faustus¶s study of dark magic and his initial conversations with Mephastophilis climax · Faustus¶s sealing of the pact that promises his soul to Lucifer falling action · Faustus¶s traveling of the world and performing of magic for various rulers themes · Sin. who provides the only narration. desperately seeking a way out. which appears intermittently between scenes. and he ends by reaching an understanding of his own guilt: ³No. Lucifer! I¶ll burn my books²ah. Faustus. tone · Grandiose and tragic. when his slide into mediocrity begins. Faustus. just before the devils take him down to hell. England date of first publication · The A text was first published in 1604. but the Chorus. It is easily the most dramatic moment in the play. comic characters. then as The Tragicall History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus author · Christopher Marlowe type of work · Play genre · Tragedy Language · English time and place written · Early 1590s. suggesting. practical jokes symbols · Blood. Ugly hell gape not! Come not. setting (time) · The 1580s setting (place) · Europe. an ambition that the Renaissance spirit celebrated but that medieval Christianity denounced as an expression of sinful human pride. redemption. But no escape is available. But Marlowe¶s play ultimately proves more tragic than Christian. denouncing. that his pact with Lucifer is about gaining limitless knowledge. the quest for knowledge that has defined most of his life..´ This final speech raises the question of why Faustus does not repent earlier and. / That hath deprived thee of the joys of heaven. provides background information and comments on the action point of view · While he sometimes cedes the stage to the Chorus or the lesser. Key Facts full title · Published initially as The Tragicall History of D. In a truly Christian framework.My God. why his desperate cries to Christ for mercy are not heard. a theatrical entrepreneur narrator · None for the most part. the dividedness of human nature motifs · Magic and the supernatural. possibly Philip Henslowe. specifically Germany and Italy protagonist · Doctor Faustus major conflict · Faustus sells his soul to Lucifer in exchange for twenty-four years of immense power. alternates between the present and past tenses. the B text in 1616. Faustus goes from one idea to another. absolute power and corruption. and Marlowe uses some of his finest rhetoric to create an unforgettable portrait of the mind of a man about to carried off to a horrific doom. and so there comes a point beyond which Faustus can no longer be saved. more importantly. Faustus is central figure in the play. the conflict between medieval and Renaissance value s. in a desperate attempt to save himself.. Mephastophilis! (13. my God. while he is still alive. publisher · Uncertain. and he has several long soliloquies that let us see things from his point of view. look not so fierce on me! . curse Lucifer.

´ In art and literature. though. On the one hand. 3. Faustus puts the medieval world to bed and steps firmly into the new era. he or she may still be saved even at the last moment. this distinction was not so clearly drawn in the sixteenth century as it is today. as pioneered by the Greeks and imitated by William Shakespeare. it takes place in an explicitly Christian cosmos: God sits on high.M. Galen in medicine. because he gives in to temptation and is damned to hell. Dawkins once called Faustus ³a Renaissance man who had to pay the medieval price for being one.´ Do you think this is an accurate characterization of Marlowe¶s tragic hero? Doctor Faustus has frequently been interpreted as depicting a clash between the values of the medieval world and the emerging spirit of the sixteenth-century Renaissance. the Chorus tells us to view Faustus¶s fate as a warning and not follow his example. as the quote says. Mephastophilis seems to desire Faustus¶s damnation: he appears eagerly when Faustus rejects . But though Faustus. 1. since he still exists firmly within a Christian framework. Justinian in law. the emphasis was on the lives of the saints and the mighty rather than on those of ordinary people. There are devils and angels. (Indeed. a magician and not a scientist. This admonition would seem to make Marlowe a defender of the established religious values. he ³pay[s] the medieval price´ for taking this new direction. In a traditional tragic play.foreshadowing · The play constantly hints at Faustus¶s ultimate damnation.) With his rejection of God¶s authority and his thirst for knowledge and control over nature. and the Bible in religion²and decides to strike out on his own. more secular era. man!´. His blood congeals when he tries to sign away his soul. Discuss the character of Mephastophilis. and he is constantly tormented by misgivings and fears of hell. In Christianity. which can be contrasted with the Christian virtue of humility. Yet. the words Homo fuge. While Marlowe¶s Faustus is. however. by letting these traits rule his life. Faustus embodies the more secular spirit of the dawning modern era. Christian cosmology¶s prince of devils. showing us the terrible fate that awaits a Renaissance man who rejects God. there was a new celebration of the free individual and the scientific exploration of nature. tragically. Christianity and God lay at the center of intellectual life: scientific inquiry languished. famous scientists such as Isaac Newton dabbled in astrology and alchemy into the eighteenth century. can do nothing about it. With the advent of the Renaissance. In this speech. Perhaps the price of rejecting God is worth it. and theology was known as ³the queen of the sciences. 2. and every soul goes either to hell or to heaven. meaning ³Fly. How much of a role does he play in Faustus¶s damnation? How does Marlowe complicate his character and inspire our sympathy? Mephastophilis is part of a long tradition of fascinating literary devils that reached its peak a century later with John Milton¶s portrayal of Satan in Paradise Lost. in which Faustus is conscious of his damnation and yet. Is Doctor Faustus a Christian tragedy? Why or why not? Doctor Faustus has elements of both Christian morality and classical tragedy. meaning that his transgressions ultimately condemn him to hell. But by investing Faustus with such tragic grandeur. or perhaps Faustus pays the price for all of western culture. Faustus allows his soul to be claimed by Lucifer. allowing it to enter a new. and he is carried off to hell. with the devils tempting people into sin and the angels urging them to remain true to God. comes to his senses and begs for a chance to repent. appear on his arm after he makes the pact. Faustus¶s story is a tragedy in Christian terms. there is always the possibility of repentance²so if a tragic hero realizes his or her mistake. In medieval Europe. Yet while the play seems to offer a very basic Christian message²that one should avoid temptation and sin. and repent if one cannot avoid temptation and sin²its conclusion can be interpreted as straying from orthodox Christianity in order to conform to the structure of tragedy. when Faustus explicitly rejects all the medieval authorities²Aristotle in logic. Marlowe symbolizes this spirit in the play¶s first scene. published in the late seventeenth century. it is too late. Faustus¶s principal sin is his great pride and ambition. Marlowe may be suggesting a different lesson. Scholar R. a hero is brought low by an error or series of errors and realizes his or her mistake only when it is too late. as long as a person is alive. Marlowe rejects the Christian idea that it is never too late to repent in order to increase the dramatic power of his finale. In the play¶s final lines. as the judge of the world. admittedly. in the final. wrenching scene.

Is God present in the play? If so. where? If not. In a famous passage.God and firms up Faustus¶s resolve when Faustus hedges on his contract with Lucifer. the horse-courser. Am not tormented with ten thousand hells In being deprived of everlasting bliss? (3. or is he willfully blind to the reality of his situation? . Discuss the role of Faustus¶s soliloquies²particularly his speeches about the different kinds of knowledge in scene 1 and his long soliloquies in scene 12²in shaping our understanding of his character. and both suffer for it eternally. These devils may be villains. he actually warns Faustus against making the deal. How does Faustus use the magical gifts that he receives? How are the uses to which he puts his powers significant? What do they suggest about his character or about the nature of unlimited power? 2. his remark that hell is a myth seems particularly delusional. In this regard. who are damned to hell just as surely as Faustus or any other sinful. Suggested Essay Topics 1. and the clown. Is Faustus misled by the devils. Mephastophilis retorts. Mephastophilis assures him that hell is real and terrible. What is the role of the comic characters²Robin. Why this is hell. they highlight Faustus¶s willful blindness. wh Faustus en remarks that Mephastophilis seems to be free of hell at the moment. Think¶st thou that I. for example? How does Marlowe use them to illuminate Faustus¶s decline? 3. these complications inspire a kind of pity for Mephastophilis and his fellow devils. nor am I out of it. separated forever from the bliss of God¶s presence by their pride. unrepentant human. At the same time. Indeed. who saw the face of God. First. Mephastophilis and Faust are similar figures: both reject God out of pride. telling him how awful the pains of hell are. when Faustus expresses skepticism that any afterlife exists. but they are tragic figures. When does Faustus have misgivings about his pact with Lucifer? What makes him desire to repent? Why do you think he fails to repent? 4. Yet there is an odd ambivalence in Mephastophilis. And tasted the eternal joys of heaven. These odd complications in Mephastophilis¶s character serve a twofold purpose. what does God¶s absence suggest? 5. Rafe.76±80) Again. since he dismisses the warning of the very demon with whom he is bartering over his soul. Before the pact is sealed. 6.

for example. played by Joseph Fiennes. submitted a report to the authorities which portrayed him as a scoffer and heretic who. most especially the plays of Shakespeare. and my Henry VI was a house built on his foundations « I would give all my plays to come for one of his that will never come. he acknowledges the immense artistic debt he owes his great contemporary. Let's begin by looking at the life and reputation of the play's author. The main aim being to introduce you to the study of literature at undergraduate level. We will then look at Doctor Faustus. who lived and wrote at the same time as Shakespeare and is probably the most famous of his many gifted fellow writers. Doctor Faustus Introduction This unit is on Christopher Marlowe's famous play Doctor Faustus. Marlowe's posthumous literary reputation was heavily influenced by several hostile contemporary accounts of his character and beliefs. p. though it's important to realise that Kyd made these claims under torture. Marlowe's touch was in my Titus Andronicus. insights does Dr Faustus give us into the character and reputation of its author? 1 Christopher Marlowe 1. This scene from the film gives us a reasonably accurate picture of the kind of reputation that Marlowe now enjoys as a writer: he is seen both as an important dramatist in his own right. 1979. which was written sometime between 1588 and 1592 and was first published in 1604 (the A text). who sells his soul to the devil in exchange for 24 years of power and pleasure. Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe. who had already informed on Marlowe during the counterfeiting affair. 33). Stricken with guilt and grief. and engage in some of the main skills and techniques involved in the analysis and interpretation of literary texts. has just heard that Marlowe has been stabbed to death in a tavern in Deptford and believes.1 Marlowe: the man In this unit I will discuss the question of reputation in relation to a literary text. Baines also accused Marlowe of what we would call . mocked religion as a tool used by the powerful µto keep men in awe¶ and said µChrist was a bastard and his mother dishonest¶ (ibid. and as a pioneer whose achievements on the stage made possible the considerable accomplishments of his successors. if any. 35. What Shakespeare in Love only hints at in its mention of Marlowe's sticky end is that he is as famous for his life and death as for his works. It considers the play in relation to Marlowe's own reputation as a rule-breaker and outsider and asks whether the play criticises or seeks to arouse audience sympathy for its protagonist.Christopher Marlowe. y examine genre ± what kind of play is Doctor Faustus? y consider themes ± what are the main themes or issues explored in the play? y read historically ± what are some of the connections between Doctor Faustus and the historical period in which it was written? y read biographically ± what. Shakespeare.. The spy Richard Baines. mistakenly. without whose works he feels he could never have written two of his own early plays. These lines come from John Madden's 1998 film Shakespeare in Love. We will start by considering the literary reputation of Marlowe (1564±93). Is this pioneering drama a medieval morality play or a tragedy? Learning outcomes By the end of this section you should be able to: y read closely ± analyse a passage from the play. that he is responsible for his death. of being µintemperate¶ and of having µa cruel heart¶ (Maclure. His fellow playwright Thomas Kyd accused him of holding a variety of µmonstrous opinions¶. We will discuss several aspects of the play. Marlowe's most well-known play. 37). pp.

while another protagonist. Marlowe's literary reputation has depended to a considerable extent on how different historical periods have viewed his life and his unconventional protagonists. fellow dramatist George Peele called him µthe Muses' darling¶ (ibid. 3). it has been subject to numerous retellings. The establishment of Engl sh Studies as a distinct academic i discipline in the second half of the nineteenth century brought with it the construction of a canon of great writers and a history of English literature which accorded Marlowe the crucial groundbreaking role he plays in Shakespeare in Love. began to look less like culpable immorality and more like evidence of poetic genius. while another playwright. Viewed in the light of the biographies of romantic poets like Shelley (1792±1822). is sexually infatuated with his favourite Piers Gaveston..2 Doctor Faustus Critics who have studied Marlowe's work have for the most part been inclined to take on trust the picture of him provided by Kyd. including the two-part play Faust (1808. an English translation of a German book (now known as the Faustbuch) about an actual historical figure who gained notoriety in early sixteenth-century Germany by dabbling in the occult. political or sexual orthodoxies. He also interpreted Marlowe's violent death as God's judgement upon his sins. as the µhook the Lord put in the nostrils of this barking dog¶ (ibid. . along with his sensational plays. attracted to a story about a man who rebelled so flagrantly against the Christian God? One of the interesting questions to ask about Doctor Faustus is whether the play seems to strengthen or undermine the longstanding view of Marlowe as a maverick artist. 41). Why did Marlowe choose to adapt the Faust legend for the stage? Was the free-thinking dramatist. surrounded through much of his career by sexual scandal. 2004. or as Beard put it rather more colourfully. Beard and others. This story rapidly became the stuff of legend and. as numerous critics have speculated. who challenge religious. 42). Baines. It was not until the nineteenth century that a more favourable view of Marlowe's artistic accomplishments began to emerge. Marlowe's tumultuous life and early death. Tamburlaine and Doctor Faustus. and Byron (1788±1824). and to read the plays as statements of the author's own radical beliefs. Those critics in the eighteenth century who had some knowledge of Marlowe were generally scandalised by the biographical accounts that survived and repelled by what they perceived to be the intemperate nature of his protagonists. p. Thomas Heywood. and we will return to this question at the end of the unit. p. and its hero. is by far the best known of his rebellious protagonists. 1832) by the German writer Goethe. Marlowe based the plot of his play on The History of the Damnable Life and Deserved Death of Doctor John Faustus (1592). an avowed atheist. as seems likely. much as he was accused of doing. Two of his most well-known heroes. King Edward II. it's not surprising that Marlowe the man has always been as famous as Marlowe the writer. The puritan Thomas Beard charged Marlowe with µatheism and impiety¶. Moreover.. the novel Doctor Faustus (1948) by Thomas Mann. the correlations between the work and the life (both the facts and the gossip) are undeniably striking: all of Marlowe's dramatic protagonists are in some significant sense rule-breakers. writing in 1633. As the figure of the artist became increasingly associated with rebellion and excess.homosexuality (the word did not exist in the sixteenth century. described him as µthe best of poets in that age¶ (Cheney. p. Doctor Faustus is the most famous of Marlowe's plays. for example.. and Peter Cook's and Dudley Moore's 1967 film Bedazzled (remade in 2000). share with their creator their rise from low-class origins to fame and success. p. with denying µGod and his son Christ¶ (ibid. like most legends. p. though buggery was punishable by death) when he attributed to him the view that µall they that love not tobacco and boys were fools¶ (ibid. so the life and work that once disqualified Marlowe from literary celebrity came virtually to guarantee it. Given such spectacular biographical material. who sells his soul to the devil in return for twenty-four years of power and pleasure.. 37). But there is an obvious problem with this approach to Marlowe's work: we simply don't know whether these hostile accounts of his opinions are accurate or. 1. 39). It's only fair to add that Marlowe was also admired and celebrated as a poet and dramatist during and immediately after his lifetime. deeply compromised by their writers' own motives and circumstances. which adapted the legend for comic ends. Changing views of the artist consolidated his integration into the literary canon.

This is also blank verse because. especially if this is your frst i encounter with Renaissance drama. This rhythm is mainly determined by the metre which. is called iambic pentameter. when the vocabulary was significantly different from twenty-first-century English. ll. If you read the lines aloud. the type of drama on which Marlowe draws in adapting The Damnable Life for the stage. which can slow the verse down (if there are a lot of stops and pauses) or speed it up (if there are few of these). the lines are unrhymed. But we can still say that. is more regular at some points than others.3 Reading a Renaissance play If you have never read a Renaissance play before ± and even if you have ± you may well find Doctor Faustus a challenging read. After the Prologue and Faustus's long opening speech. but I would suggest.1 Act 1.1 The morality play Before looking at the play's opening scene I should add a brief note on the medieval morality play. Scene 1: µYet art thou still but Faustus. Remember that reading early modern English is challenging. Nor sport|ing in | the dal|liance | of love In courts| of kings| where state| is o|verturned The second line doesn't fit all that comfortably into the overall pattern because it feels a bit awkward giving a strong stress to the last syllable of µCarthaginians¶. you will hear that for the most part every other syllable carries a particularly marked accent: Not march|ing now | in fields | of Tra|simene Where Mars | did mate | the Car|thagi|nians. as we have just seen. roughly speaking. In poetry this pattern. Nor sporting in the dalliance of love In courts of kings where state is overturned « (Prologue. Look for a moment at the four opening lines of Doctor Faustus: Not marching now in fields of Trasimene Where Mars did mate the Carthaginians. If you have not already done so. please read Doctor Faustus now. that when reading the play you focus on the story: try to get the gist of what happens. and that in the second part of this unit we will be looking more closely at particular parts of the play. but it is also affected by punctuation. a term that requires a few words of explanation. in addition to being written in iambic pentameter. which is generally thought to be the poetic metre that most closely reproduces the cadence of English speech. 2 Reading Doctor Faustus 2. you may have been startled by the appearance of the . each line of verse has five stressed and five unstressed syllables. who the main characters are and what they do. Don't worry if you find this hard going or feel that you do not understand it all. It is also written largely in blank verse. like the plays of Shakespeare. Everyone has their own way of reading. and that these are arranged in a fairly regular pattern of unstressed/stressed. Don't worry if this discussion of metre is new to you: its purpose is just to make you aware that the play's verse has an underlying rhythm.1. you will find that each one contains ten syllables. and a man¶ 2. This is chiefly because. 1±4) If you count the syllables in these lines. View document I would suggest that you leave the Doctor Faustus document open on your desktop to gain the maximum benefit from the discussions that folow. Marlowe was known and admired by his contemporaries for the skill with which he used blank verse in his plays.1. Doctor Faustus was written during the historical period known as the Renaissance (or the early modern period). or metre.

it is one person. just as in Doctor Faustus.74) by practising black magic. is kicking things off by giving us a brief biography of the play's protagonist. Scene 1. express ek traditional attitudes and guide the audience's response to the play. this didactic element can be seen most clearly in Marlowe's use of a Chorus to present a Prologue and Epilogue that. The Chorus. it sought to teach its audience. but were still popular when Marlowe was writing. Then he tells us about Faustus's childhood. The aim of the morality play was primarily didactic.Good and Evil Angels. They are shown fighting for the soul of a central human character who often represents humanity itself. specifically that although he was born to µparents base of stock¶ (l. despite the fact that it jeopardises µhis chiefest bliss¶ (l. and then write a brief summary of it. This way of creating characters. At this point and throughout the play they are engaged in a struggle for the soul of Faustus. What main points would you say the Chorus is making here? Discussion Here is what I've come up with: 1. 2. the tone of the speech seems to change. The fact that he turned to the morality play when he came to dramatise The Damnable Life raises questions about the genre of Doctor Faustus: what kind of play is this? Is it essentially a late sixteenth-century morality play. whereas in Doctor Faustus and Elizabethan drama generally. In line 20. that is. 4. The Chorus undoubtedly condemns Faustus's study of magic and encourages us to disapprove of it too. rather like the Choruses of ancient Gre tragedies. rather than having individualised personali ies. Everyman. good or bad¶ (l. the Good and Evil Angels may have struck you as strange. or µcursèd necromancy¶. goodness and evil. where his intellectual brilliance led swiftly to his being awarded a doctorate. 27). each of which is embodied in supernatural figures (like Mephistopheles and Lucifer) or personified abstractions (like the Good and Evil Angels and the Seven Deadly Sins). they t represent abstract moral qualities ± in this case. Morality plays were prevalent in England during the late Middle Ages. The Chorus spends several lines telling the audience what the play is not about ± war or love or martial heroism ± before he tells us what it is about: µFaustus' fortunes. he went on when he was older to study divinity at the University of Wittenberg. the Evil Angel egging him on by reminding him of the power that necromancy will bring him. which has been explained as µintellectual pride engendered by arrogance¶. 3. and to offer moral and spiritual lessons about how to live a good Christian life. 8). as the Chorus speaks of Faustus's µcunning of a self-conceit¶. then. warning its audience of the dire consequences of practising black magic? Or is its attitude to the story it tells more complicated than this? How does the play encourage us to respond to the central character who sells his soul to the devil? Activity We can begin to answer those questions by looking at the Prologue. is typical of morality plays. In Doctor Faustus. his chance of being granted eternal salvation when he dies. Their names tell us pretty much everything we need to know about them for. no more than four or five sentences. or characterisation. 12).1. line 74 ± displayed as 1. The Chorus goes on to explain that his intellectual pride led Faustus to take up the study of magic. which are fundamentally religious dramas that enact the conflict between good and evil. Even if you had expected to find supernatural beings in a play about a man who sells his soul to the devil. that is. But the speech also . they are full of clowning and knockabout comedy. the Good Angel warning him of the danger of arousing µGod's heavy wrath¶ (Act 1. hence the title of one of the best-known morality plays. Please reread the speech now. (In Greek tragedy the Chorus was a group of people.) Yet morality plays also sought to entertain their audiences. perhaps because they are not what we expect characters in literary texts to be like. I hope you agree that the picture of Faustus it offers us is a mixed one.

of the man who tries to exceed his own limitations and comes to grief as a result. overcame the considerable disadvantage of lowly birth to rise to the pinnacle of his profession. in the Chorus's view. with the result that rather than being likened to a particular inflated object. It is interesting to compare Brueghel's treatment of the myth with that of Marlowe's Chorus and Whitney's emblem. µswoll'n¶ is used in a figurative rather than a literal way. This is an allusion to the ancient Greek myth of Icarus. but that he is µswollen¶ with it. for whereas Icarus's pride seems to be self-destructive. the Chorus says not just that Faustus is full of intellectual pride and arrogance. But he chose to use not a simile but a metaphor. is unnoticed as the rest of the world goes about its business. Like Icarus. pride is identified more broadly with the condition of being swollen. who attempted to escape from Crete with a pair of waxen wings. (1555): Landscape with the Fall of Icarus According to Brueghel when Icarus fell it was spring a farmer was ploughing his field the whole pageantry of the year was awake tingling near the edge of the sea concerned with itself sweating in the sun that melted the wings' wax unsignificantly off the coast there was a splash quite unnoticed this was Icarus drowning William Carlos Williams. for we still use the expression µswollen head¶ to describe someone who thinks too highly of himself. but that he has an inflated opinion of himself. 22). When the tone of the speech changes in line 20. We also understand that the Chorus is not using the adjective µswoll'n¶ literally. he would have made a direct comparison between Faustus's pride and an inflated balloon.registers the greatness of a man who. Faustus's sparks the intervention of a deity who µconspires¶ to destroy him. Similes make a direct comparison by using the word µlike¶ or µas¶. This metaphor is followed by the lines: µHis waxen wings did mount above his reach. through his own merit. swoll'n like a balloon with cunning of a self-conceit¶. If Marlowe had written µTill. . from The Collected Poems. This is an intriguing twist on the Icarus myth. it is not that Faustus is actually swollen up. Let's look a little more closely now at the last eight lines of the Prologue. He became the symbol of the µoverreacher¶. but flew too near the sun and plunged to his death when the sun melted the wax (see Figures 2 and 3). / And melting heavens conspired his overthrow¶ (ll. 21±2). Faustus tried to µmount above his reach¶ and was punished for his presumption: µheavens conspired his overthrow¶ (l. The American poet William Carlos Williams (1883±1963) wrote the following poem about Pieter Brueghel's Landscape with the Fall of Icarus. II: 1939±1962. In other words. just visible in the bottom right of the painting as he sinks to his death in the sea. Icarus. © by William Carlos Williams. Figurative language describes one thing by comparing it with something else. This is easy for us to understand. The two most well-known types of figurative language are similes and metaphors.

µa deity¶ (ll. feelings and motives. the Greek medical authority Galen. is of the breadth of Faustus's learning. we can see more clearly what the Chorus is saying about Faustus ± that it associates his intellectual ambition with an immoderate appetite. / He surfeits upon cursèd necromancy¶ (ll. The first impression the speech gives us. When Faustus declares that he wants to achieve something that µ[s]tretcheth as far as doth the mind of man¶ (l. defining essence. he returns to divinity as the most worthy profession. There is no one on stage with Faustus as he delivers these lines. nor are there clear breaks between them. that the play's protagonist lives in a Christian universe that places limits on the pursuit of knowledge. while aiming to achieve expertise in every academic discipline.What happens to the language when the Chorus starts to talk about Faustus's study of magic? In the two lines µAnd glutted more with learning's golden gifts. 1) ± which creates the impression that he is talking to himself. alone on stage. So even though the Prologue praises Faustus for his intellectual brilliance. expresses his or her thoughts. and as the quality that most distinguishes it from the more religious Middle Ages. and begin¶ (l. µto gorge oneself¶. The soliloquy is an ideal device for establishing a strong relationship between a character and an audience. if it pushes past certain boundaries. for it seems to give us access to that character's mind at work. by looking closely at the language of the Prologue. it becomes sinful and provokes divine punishment. He has gone as far as his human condition will allow him to go. He is portrayed as a glutton who. a speech in which a dramatic character. For a moment.2 Faustus's first speech The Chorus now introduces Faustus. 24±5). but then rejects that as well. and he is surrounded by books. he laments that although he can cure illness. were central texts in the sixteenth-century university curriculum. medicine. The Prologue tells us. then. law and theology ± he dismisses each of them as an intellectual dead-end. and a man¶ (l. Icarus-like overreaching that brings him into conflict with the Christian God. It is set in his study. stuffed full of µlearning's golden gifts¶. 63). In Faustus's opening soliloquy. instead. with an inflated sense of his own value. Faustus feels that he has already achieved everything that the study of philosophy and medicine has to offer. a goal he feels only magic will enable him to realise. despite his dazzling academic success. he expresses an intense optimism about human ability that has often been seen as characteristic of the Renaissance. it also insists that this brilliance is not an unqualified good. Immediately. He then rejects the law as suitable only for a µmercenary drudge¶ (l. written by such great thinkers of classical antiquity as the Greek philosopher Aristotle. Yet as he runs through the four main academic disciplines he has studied ± philosophy. now that he has been awarded a doctorate in theology. 65). 2. The works he consults. and µsurfeits¶ means µto eat too much¶. and the Roman emperor Justinian. which means transforming himself into a µmighty god¶. We listen as he tries to make up his mind. Why is the Chorus referring to eating. then. who delivers his first speech of the play. there were developments in Europe from the . specifically to eating too much? It seems that once again the language is not working literally. in short. we notice right away that he is addressing himself in the third person ± µSettle thy studies.1. 64. What he wants. µglutted¶ means µoverfull¶. he is impatient for more knowledge. what subject he wants to specialise in. 34). Nevertheless. Faustus. then. He declares that he will be a µdivine¶ only in appearance (µin show¶). to break through the boundaries that place what he sees as artificial restrictions on human potential. but wants to go further still. or µstuffed¶. from which he reads in Latin. The way the speech is staged and written serves to emphasise Faustus's position as an eminent scholar. So. which means that it is a soliloquy. is to transcend his human limitations. as the passages he reads from Jerome's Bible stress only human sinfulness and the damnation that awaits it. turns to magic and gorges himself on that as well. it is drawing metaphorical links between Faustus's intellectual curiosity and a kind of greedy self-indulgence. we hear a note of dissatisfaction and restlessness in Faustus's voice. and with a dangerous. So what is it that Faustus wants that these traditional fields of study fail to supply? When contemplating his own remarkable achievements in medicine. he is unable either to give his patients eternal life or to raise them from the dead: µYet art thou still but Faustus. 23). Historical periods are too complex to be boiled down to a single.

Indeed. though. A few lines later he thinks of the gold and precious jewels the magical spirits will bring him. 96).3. which remained a powerful cultural force when Marlowe was writing and required humility and submission to God's will. and the development of a humanist educational programme. In this line he is voicing antipathy to an Elizabethan hate-figure. neither all good nor all bad. rather like the Chorus's initial portrait of him. The Prince of Parma was the Spanish governor of the Netherlands. 78). When he tells Mephistopheles that he is not afraid of damnation because he believes instead in the classical Greek afterlife (see 1. It is highly unlikely. he echoes the language of the Prologue and so identifies his own longing for godlike power with a gluttonous craving. and dedicated to the restoration of classical ideals of civic virtue and public service. expression of social rebellion. 82). that any sixteenth-century humanist would have countenanced this kind of explicit challenge to Christian doctrine. in which he imagines the power that magic will bring him. what the play explores ± its principal theme ± is the conflict between the confidence and ambition its protagonist embodies. Is there more evidence in the opening scene to support its claim? Activity Have another look at Faustus's speech on page 4. and the Christian faith. It's true that the pro-Protestant force of Faustus's statement is somewhat weakened by the fact that he seems to want rid of the Prince of Parma so that he himself might µreign sole king of all our provinces¶ (l. Faustus's motives in this speech seem to be mixed. p. or to answer all his questions (l. Faustus exclaims µHow am I glutted with conceit of this!¶ (l. the fact that Doctor Faustus is set in a Christian universe and affirms the reality of hell and damnation should warn us not to overstate the secular values of Renaissance England. then. 62). lines 80±101. his speech is inflected with the scientist's and coloniser's desire for control over the natural world (Hopkins. His desire to overturn the university dress code by filling the universities with silk µWherewith the students shall be bravely clad¶ (l. encouraged a newly secular view of the world: the growth of scientific investigation into the structure of the universe and the laws of the physical world. Yet alongside these acquisitive and hedonistic impulses he expresses a genuine thirst for knowledge. 2000. The play's two opening speeches set up an opposition between the Prologue's view of boundless ambition as sinful presumption and Faustus's implicit claim that the Christian universe places unjust restrictions on human potential. 58±9). 87). 88). 80). which allowed for the rapid dissemination of new ideas and discoveries. or delicacies (l. Doctor Faustus was written during a protracted period of military conflict with Catholic Spain. f r o example. 93) strikes me as a harmless. broadly speaking. Moreover. expansion of trade routes and colonisation of the Americas.fourteenth to the eighteenth century that. You may have noticed as well how often Faustus repeats the phrase µI'll have¶. Right away. even appealing. What is it he wants to achieve with this power? What kinds of motives or desires do you think he expresses in these lines? Discussion The Good and Evil Angels have just made their first appearance. Which side in this conflict do you think the play encourages us to take? We saw earlier that the Prologue seeks to discredit Faustus's interest in necromancy by portraying it in terms of an intemperate appetite. he voices a humanist reverence for classical culture. the voyages of exploration. the play's original . 95).60 ±1). When Faustus fantasises that µAll things that move between the quiet poles / Shall be at my command¶ (ll. I'd like to say a bit more at this point about Faustus's desire to levy soldiers to µchase the Prince of Parma from our land¶ (l. the new technology of printing. and in response to the Evil Angel's promise that magic will allow him to be µon earth as Jove is in the sky¶ (l. based on the study of ancient Greek and Latin authors. and in the 1580s he was closely involved both in Spain's plans to invade England and in the suppression of a Protestant rebellion in the Netherlands which England supported. he does so in an extreme or exaggerated form. and to read him µstrange philosophy¶ (l. along with µpleasant fruits and princely delicates¶. which makes him sound like a greedy child in a sweet shop. still. so if Faustus represents the secular aspirations of the Renaissance. when he says he wants the spirits to µresolve¶ him µof all ambiguities¶.

This is one of the main functions of the play's comic scenes ± to comment on the serious action. In Act 1. and good sauce to it. lines 1±14). Scene 1 opens with another soliloquy. but to no avail. 2. of thinking of God or heaven? The repetition of the word µdespair¶ in lines 4 and 5 emphasises Faustus's hopeless state of mind. the joke glances at Faustus's own µhunger¶ and drives home the absurdly high price he is paying for comparatively trivial pleasures. Faustus appears to have made up his mind to sell his soul to the devil in exchange for twenty-four years in which he will µlive in all voluptuousness¶ (1. you will see that each line has only six.94). but Faustus silences it with an extreme statement of his commitment to the devil. as his next question makes clear: µWhy waverest thou?¶ (l. Faustus.2 Act 2. Scene 4. stripped of the power of his own speeches. in line 3 he asks himself. Just as in the first soliloquy. This means that in performance the actor would have to pause for a moment because the lines are shorter than normal. urging repentance: µAbjure this magic and turn to God again!¶ (l. Coming directly after the scene in which Faustus first conjures Mephistopheles. Faustus is ordering himself not to backtrack. This voice seems to get the upper hand briefly. he tells himself in the first line that he must µneeds be damned¶. Time and again. Scene 1: Faustus and God By the end of Act 1. Act 2. By'r Lady.1. good friend. No. / Now go not backward. 12 ±15). The question is followed by a series of commands: µAway with such vain fancies and despair! / Despair in God and trust in Beelzebub. he sees his own damnation as unavoidable. 7).audience is likely to have warmed to the picture of this representative of Spanish Catholic military might being ignominiously chased out of northern Europe.3 The comic scenes There is no doubt though that the play keeps drawing our attention to its protagonist's weaknesses. The comic scenes in Act 1 serve to reinforce the connection between magic and appetite. Wagner tells us that Robin is so poor that µhe would give his soul to the devil for a shoulder of mutton. and this would have the effect of drawing attention to the sentiments expressed in the two . in other words. be resolute¶ (ll. for example. Suddenly another voice appears. So what's the point. By techniques such as these the play diminishes its hero by exposing the triviality and foolishness of his aims.3. I had need have it well roasted. The mention of the Prince of Parma in this speech strongly suggests that Marlowe was. so why doesn't he? It is interesting that although he delivers this speech before he has signed his contract with Lucifer. How would you describe its mood? Jot down any points you think are important about the way the language helps to create this mood. This is a good example of the way in which reading literary texts with their historical context in mind can help to shed light on their meaning. Discussion I would say that the mood of this speech is one of self-doubt and inner division. 4±6). 8). he asks himself. if I pay so dear¶ (ll. 9±11) and Robin adds: µNot so. at least to some extent. One possible reason for this is that the speech is peppered with questions which seem to betray his uncertainty about his chosen course of action. Activity Please look now at this soliloquy (page 15. 2. seeking to arouse audience support for Faustus. but on this occasion the voice we hear sounds markedly less confident. µWhat boots it [what use is it] then to think of God or heaven?¶. Faustus is talking to himself. though it were blood raw¶ (ll. He clearly feels the urge to repent. Marlowe juxtaposes scenes so that the later comic one comments on the preceding serious one by re-presenting Faustus's ambitions in their lowest form. Faustus appears to be wrestling with his conscience in this soliloquy. If you count the syllables in lines 2 and 10.

He quarrels with Mephistopheles. As late as Act 5. However. these doctrines provoked a sense of powerlessness and anxious fear about their spiritual destiny. Calvinist theology developed and changed over time. after all. according to the doctrine of predestination. This theology formed the official doctrine of the Elizabethan Church. but because he is afraid of the devils and con stantly distracted by the frivolous entertainments they stage for him. that the chances are that God does not love him at all. when at this point in the play there seems to be every reason to believe that repentance will secure God's forgiveness? Some critics. and in . but at this historical juncture it stressed the sinfulness and depravity of human nature. and that this helps to explain not only his opening dismissal of Christianity as obsessed with sin and damnation. Scene 3 when Faustus makes his most serious attempt at repentance. he cannot bring himself to believe that God favours him and has granted him salvation. One could argue as well that the play does represent the Christian God as loving and merciful. but his repeated inability to repent.85). that the play offers textual evidence in support of both views. Scene 1 Mephistopheles declines his request for a wife. This critical debate serves to remind us that it is difficult to evaluate how much sympathy the play arouses for its protagonist without taking into consideration its treatment of the Christian God. it proved an enormous source of comfort and well-being. its effect on believers was often positive. it is Faustus and not God who is responsible for the terrible fate that greets him at the close of the play. to Faustus's despairing conviction that he cannot be saved and that God does not love him. though.lines. Calvinism argued that salvation is entirely God's gift rather than the result of any human effort. for those persuaded by their own virtuous impulses that they were chosen by God. Once again.3 Acts 3 and 4: What does Faustus achieve? Act 2 points repeatedly to the failure of Faustus's attempt to secure power and autonomy through his pact with Lucifer: in Act 2. and Faustus calls out to Christ µto save distressèd Faustus¶ soul¶ (2. The Good and Evil Angels. consistent with Calvinist doctrine in its early modern form. have argued that Marlowe is exploring the mental and emotional impact of the form of Protestantism that prevailed in England during the late sixteenth century. that is. Moreover. As in the soliloquy that opens Act 2. and shows human beings to be free to shape their own spiritual destinies. the Good Angel (unusually) gets the last word in the debate with the Evil Angel. It is clear. In contrast to the traditional view of salvation as something that an individual could earn by living a virtuous Christian life. we find Marlowe refusing to be pinned down to one interpretation. and that he consistently fails to repent not because he is suffering from theologically induced despair. Numerous critics have been troubled by a particular episode in the play that seems to cast doubt on the presence of divine mercy and benevolence. However bleak it sounds. it isn't necessary to believe that Doctor Faustus is specifically about Calvinism to feel that its portrait of the Christian God who vindictively µconspires¶ Faustus's overthrow is not entirely flattering. Scene 1. seem to give dramatic form to Faustus's freedom to choose: he has a choice between good and evil. and he chooses evil in full knowledge of what the consequences will be. most notably Alan Sinfield (1983) and John Stachniewski (1991). Looked at from this perspective. 2. perhaps especially for poorer members of society. for whom the conviction of divine favour could be empowering. based on the doctrines of the French-born Protestant reformer Jean Calvin. But for some. It is possible to argue that Marlowe's Faustus is a depiction of one of these casualties of Calvinist doctrine. Why should Faustus feel so strongly that he is damned. And what happens? Lucifer.3. like the pageant of the seven deadly sins which follows this episode. God gives that gift only to a fortunate few whom he has chosen. The desire for repentance is overwhelmed by a still stronger belief. Other critics have argued that God is silent on this occasion because Faustus's repentance is insincere. the Old Man appears on stage to drive home the availability of God's mercy if only Faustus will sincerely repent his sins. This is the moment in Act 2. Why does God not intervene to save Faustus? The stony silence that greets his plea for divine assistance seems to call into question the traditional Christian notion of a loving and merciful God. everyone else faces an eternity of hellfire. Beelzebub and Mephistopheles enter. If you think the God of the play is fundamentally benevolent then you are less likely to feel favourably disposed towards Faustus than if you think he comes across as a harsh and punitive cosmic despot.

especially given that these descriptions probably had a powerful impact on the play's original audience. the Catholic Church would have been viewed by many with comparable hostility. Scene 3 he refuses to tell him who made the world. especially if we consider Act 3. in which Faustus makes a fool of the Pope under cover of his magician's cloak of invisibility. lighting. Scene 2 the point seems to be not that Faustus lacks the power to fulfil the request made of him by his aristocratic employer. This means that a play is not so much a fixed and finished literary text as a blueprint for actors and directors who will have to make decisions about how it is going to be translated from the page to the stage. such as what is actually happening on stage at any given moment? How should a particular speech be spoken by the actor playing the part. scenery or artificial lighting seeFigure 4). At the time of the play's first performances. it might have endeared him to the play's original audience. Scenes 1 and 2 (pages 35±43). to which Faustus replies. By casting Faustus in the role of Protestant hero. in 1580 he proclaimed that her assassination would not be a mortal sin.14). Many critics have felt that these scenes highlight the hollowness of Faustus's achievements. tells us that in order to learn µthe secrets of astronomy¶ (3. looks like a bid for audience approval. by its portrayal of the Catholic Church as decadent and corrupt. in a climate of military conflict with Spain. and speculated how. costumes. The mention of the play in performance leads us to an important characteristic of drama. We need to remember as well the limitations of the theatre.Act 2. How do they make us feel about what he actually achieves through his embracing of black magic? Are we encouraged to feel it was worth it? Activity Please have another look at Act 4.1. where plays were performed in broad daylight with little in the way of props.5±6). there is another side to the story. this scene seems designed to elicit a favourable response to his conjuring skill. in particular of Marlowe's open-air theatre. he can do no more than summon spirits who resemble Alexander and his paramour. In these conditions. In Act 4. They will have to ask themselves questions. Read with this context in mind. all he manages to become is the entertainer of the established ruling elite. apparently with some regret. but that the Duchess of Vanholt can think of nothing more challenging to ask for than a dish of ripe grapes. Scene 1. Yet is this all there is to say on this matter? As usual with this play. it is not hard to grasp why so many of Faustus's adventures as a magician are reported rather than enacted: the Chorus to Act 3. music and other sound . In 1570 the Pope had excommunicated Elizabeth I and released her Catholic subjects from their allegiance to the Protestant heretic queen. for example.1. who were much more accustomed to listening to long and often complex speeches (sermons. µAlas. far from realising his grand dreams of immense power. would you say that Faustus has realised his dreams of power and pleasure? What evidence would you offer in support of your view? Discussion These two scenes show us Faustus in the role of court magician. Because Faustus is still unable to raise people from the dead. He seems at this point to share the view of many critics that he is squandering his abilities on trivial activities. Scene 1 of stressing the limitations of his protagonist's conjuring powers. Faustus scaled Mount Olympus µin a chariot burning bright / Drawn by the strength of yoky dragons' necks¶ (3. entertaining the emperor Charles V and then the Duke and Duchess of Vanholt with conjuring tricks. and when discussing Acts 3 and 4 we should give due weight to the descriptions Marlowe provides of activities he was unable to enact on stage.2. On the basis of these scenes. Acts 3 and 4 cover the bulk of the twentyfour-year period that Faustus purchased with his soul. and mired in absurd superstitions like the ceremony of excommunication. madam. for example) than we tend to be nowadays. and which actor is best suited to play the part? A director will also need to make decisions about set design. Earlier we looked at Faustus's desire to µchase the Prince of Parma from our land¶. This sounds anything but a hollow experience. which makes it different from other literary forms such as the novel and poetry: plays are written to be performed whereas novels and poems are written to be read. Marlowe certainly makes a point in Act 4. Act 3.2). that's nothing¶ (4.

which is why O'Connor points out that the line seems to echo the striking clock we have just heard (p. F Faustus chooses Helen. Because this is a sequence of monosyllabic words. It would certainly be possible for an actor to give a more or less equally strong stress to each word. for example. All of these aspects of performance will contribute to the meaning of the play. 2004.effects. a director might choose to portray Helen instead as a malign influence on the hero. Of course. in which Faustus conjures up the image of Alexander the Great and his paramour. on a visual level the Old Man loses out to Helen. and with the legendary beauty Helen of Troy ( igure 5). which is supposed to mark the last hour of his life. with the skilful use of music and lighting. This echo effect is strengthened by the internal rhyme between µNow¶ and µthou¶. Critics have often commented on how skilfully Marlowe uses rhythm to underline the passage of time. it is not entirely clear which of them are stressed. be turned into a thrilling stage spectacle. for example. but of the wonder of Faustus's magical powers. Does thinking about these scenes in terms of performance open up different possibilities? Discussion It strikes me that Act 4. at the second line: µNow hast thou but one bare hour to live¶ (l. This scene is structured in such a way as to establish a clear contrast between Faustus's two encounters: with the Old Man. Discussion The soliloquy represents an attempt to imagine and dramatise what the last hour of life feels like to a man awaiting certain damnation. but Marlowe uses the sound of the clock striking to create the illusion that the last hour of Faustus's life is ticking away and so heightens the sense of impending doom. Activity So how might consideration of Doctor Faustus as a text intended for performance affect our response to Faustus's career as a magician? A moment ago we discussed the way in which Act 4 in particular seems to emphasise the gap between Faustus's aspirations and his actual achievement. p.4 Act 5. The . could easily. thinking as you read about how Marlowe uses sound effects to heighten the emotional impact of the soliloquy. It strikes eleven at the start of the speech. 2. who engages what Healy calls the audience's µemotional and aesthetic sympathy¶ (Healy. Scene 1. By the same token. 183). and many critics have echoed the Old Man's stern disapproval. Scene 2: Faustus's last soliloquy The play draws to a close with Faustus's final soliloquy. Activity Please reread this speech now. 67). the speech doesn't really take an hour to deliver. Yet the critic Thomas Healy points out that in the theatre Helen is usually represented as so µstrikingly beautiful¶ that even if one agrees on a rational level that Faustus would be better off with the Old Man. 108). Why does the second half hour pass much more quickly than the first? Is this Marlowe's way of conveying what the passage of time feels like to the terrified Faustus: it seems to be speeding up as the dreaded end approaches? The thunder and lightning that swiftly follow the sound of the clock striking midnight announce the final entrance of the devils. The same might be said of the two appearances of Helen of Troy in Act 5. then half past the hour 31 lines later. Look. then midnight only twenty lines after that. Scene 1. It might then be possible to perform Act 4 in such a way as to create the impression not of the emptiness. and they will differ from one production to another. who urges piety and repentance.

ne'er be found¶ (ll. Feelings of pity and fear might seem a more appropriate response to Faustus's end than the Epilogue's moral. 119±20). no end is limited to damnèd souls¶ (l. designed to teach its audience about the spiritual dangers of excessive learning and ambition. 105). time runs. for it seems to take various forms in different historical periods. / And fall into the ocean. death and (in this case) damnation. the remarkable individual whose fall stimulates in the spectator intense feelings of pity and fear. Faustus pleads with God to place a limit on his time in hell ± µLet Faustus live in hell a thousand years. as tidy as its concluding rhyming couplet. 7±8). or that his soul might µbe changed into little waterdrops. One of the most striking aspects of the speech is the way it reverses the dreams of power and glory that Faustus expressed in his first soliloquy. Time really is the essence of this soliloquy. but now. seems to signal the inevitable frustration of that wish. 71±3) Faustus wants time to stop or slow down. So what is a tragedy? In fact. To what extent does Doctor Faustus conform to this description of a tragic play? Well. are aroused by the experience of watching a tragedy. accelerating rather than slowing down the rhythm. 68). 109±12). and at last be saved¶ (ll. to be a µmighty god¶. The sudden appearance of a long five-syllable word focuses our attention on it and alerts us to what it is that Faustus most fears: an infinity of suffering. Does this final humbling of Faustus encourage a feeling of satisfaction that he has got what he deserved? That seems to be how the Epilogue sees things. In his final soliloquy. his aspiration to divinity into a longing for annihilation as he seeks desperately to escape from µthe heavy wrath of God¶ (l. we can fall back on the broad strokes of Aristotle's description (in the Poetics) of the tragedies he had seen in Athens in the fourth century BCE: tragedies are plays that represent a central action or plot that is serious and significant. or let this hour be but A year. what most horrifies him is the prospect not of suffering but of endless suffering. When the play was published. as he faces an eternity in hell. first in 1604 and then in 1616. a week. After the clock strikes the half hour.5 Morality play or tragedy? Pity and fear are the emotions that. They involve a socially prominent main character who is neither evil nor morally perfect. the Chorus begins by acknowledging Faustus's greatness. but in essence it is issuing a warning to the a udience that his terrible fate is what awaits all those µforward wits¶ who µpractise more than heavenly power permits¶ (ll. Yet it is arguable that the final soliloquy's powerful evocation of Faustus's agony.monosyllabic words continue into the next line until the last word: µAnd then thou must be damned perpetually¶ (l. a natural day « (ll. the clock will strike. are designed to make us wonder whether the savage punishment really fits the crime. From the beginning . In that speech he declared his desire to be more than human. rise. or run-on lines: Fair nature's eye. 2. rise again. Faustus's self-assertive spirit collapses into a desire for extinction. and Marlowe underlines the futility through the use of enjambement. and Faustus must be damned¶ (ll. 103± 04) ± only to come back to the awful truth: µO. who moves from a state of happiness to a state of misery because of some frailty or error of judgement: this is the tragic hero. it was called a µtragical history¶. µtragedy¶ is a notoriously difficult literary term to define. But for the sake of discussion. At the start of this chapter we asked whether Doctor Faustus is a late sixteenth-century morality play. if we take µhistory¶ here to refer not to a particular dramatic genre but more generally to a narrative or story. he wishes that he were less than human: he longs to be transformed into µsome brutish beast¶ whose soul would simply dissolve into the elements when it dies (ll. As in the Prologue. / The devil will come. Faustus himself grasps this: µThe stars move still. then the publisher described the play as a tragic tale. but the way one line of verse tumbles into the next. not only because the clock is ticking for Faustus. according to the Greek philosopher Aristotle. and make Perpetual day. coupled with its stress on the horrors of the never-ending suffering to which he has been sentenced. 76±7). 86). / A hundred thousand. a month. This sparks his desperate and futile plea for time to stand still. as we have seen. it follows the classic tragic trajectory in so far as it starts out with the protagonist at the pinnacle of his achievement and ends with his fall into misery. but because.

. learned and foolish. if anything. we have seen in the course of this unit that Faustus is consistently presented to us as an intermediate character. a conscience-stricken rebel against divine power. However. irreveren personality t described and decried by the likes of Baines and Beard. also insists on the egoism and sheer wrong-headedness of its erring protagonist. all we can say is that Marlowe's treatment of the Faust legend is neither simply orthodox nor simply radical. does Doctor Faustus tell us about its notorious author? Having read the play. seems to call for a fuller emotional response than the Epilogue's moralising can provide. With its stubborn resistance to single. if it questions divine justice. the morality play hero who µstands for¶ all of us. Yet if we cannot finally assess the accuracy of Marlowe's reputation as a rebel and outsider. consumed with intellectual curio sity and possessed of insatiable appetites for worldly pleasure. yet one could also argue that the play's orthodox sentiments are too deeply felt to be dismissed as camouflage for the author's heretical opinions. and powerfully conveys his feelings of guilt and remorse. On this level. who bears some resemblance to the restless. it does seem to be the work of an author disinclined to take orthodox beliefs on trust. In the end. to his anguished self-questioning and final terrified confrontation with the divine authority he defied. Perhaps the play's ambiguity is a measure of how risky it would have been for Marlowe to write a more overtly subversive drama. that it calls into question the justice of a universe that places restrictions on human achievement and demands the eternal suffering of those who disobey its laws. fixed meanings. 3 Hero and author What. Perhaps most importantly. whether or not we feel it is deserved. Doctor Faustus leaves the character and beliefs of its author in shadow. Moreover. neither wholly good nor wholly bad: both brilliant and arrogant. it is certainly possible to argue that Faustus brings about his own demise through his catastrophically ill advised decision to embrace black magic. I hope that your reading of the play has made clear why he also has a reputation as a pioneer of English drama. we have seen throughout this unit that this allegedly rebellious figure produced a play that. but as the exceptional protagonist of tragic drama. the play gives us access to the thoughts and feelings of a dramatic character whose fall. We have seen as well how skilfully Marlowe uses the soliloquy to create a powerful illusion of a complex inner life: from Faustus's first proud rejection of the university curriculum and his exuberant daydreams of unlimited power.the play identifies its protagonist not as µeveryman¶. do you feel that it supports or invalidates the dominant view of Marlowe as the bad boy of Elizabethan drama? There is certainly no doubt that the play has a defiant streak.

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