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An A level English Workbook
by Julia Geddes ~ Wessex Publications ~
About the Author of this Workbook
Julia Geddes has taught English Literature to advanced and degree level for a number of years. She has a BA honours degreee in English and Philosophy and an MA in English Literature from the University of Leeds. She has a wide range of teaching experience in secondary, further and higher education and is currently a moderator for GCSE English and English Literature and an examiner of ‘A’ level English Literature. This is her seventh Wessex publication. In her spare time she enjoys circuit training, running and cycling. She also plays the piano and is a keen gardener.
Other workbooks in this series include: A level
The Miller's Tale The Franklin's Tale The Wife of Bath's Tale and Prologue The Merchant's Tale The Pardoner’s Prologue and Tale The Prologue to the Canterbury Tales Much Ado About Nothing Hamlet Measure for Measure King Lear The Merchant of Venice The Winter’s Tale The Poems of John Donne The Poetry of Edward Thomas Poems of Seamus Heaney Mean Time The Whitsun Weddings High Windows Dead Sea Poems Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience Choice of Christina Rossetti’s Verse Three Victorian Poets Selected Poems by John Keats Wordsworth - Prelude Women Romantic Poets High Windows The World’s Wife Selected Poems of John Clare Great Expectations Jane Eyre Mansfield Park The Handmaid’s Tale Gulliver’s Travels Dubliners Return of the Native Hard Times A Passage to India Tess of the d’Urbervilles Captain Corelli’s Mandolin Enduring Love Snow Falling on Cedars The Great Gatsby Spies Cold Mountain Wise Children Possession Edward II A Doll’s House The Rivals The Glass Menagerie Murmuring Judges The Country Wife Dr Faustus The Duchess of Malfi A Street Car Named Desire Volpone A Woman of No Importance All My Sons Death of a Salesman The School for Scandal English Language Topics English Critical Appreciation Communications - Semiotics and the Media English Language Change
I'm the King of the Castle The Lord of the Flies War Poetry Macbeth An Inspector Calls To Kill a Mockingbird Of Mice and Men Romeo and Juliet Twelfth Night
All materials available from: Wessex Publications Elwell House Stocklinch Ilminster Somerset TA19 9JF Tel/Fax: 01460 55660 or by using email@example.com www.wessexpublications.co.uk
COPYRIGHT NOTICE The contents of this publication remain the copyright property of the publishers. They may be copied only within the purchasing institution. Any copying beyond these limits is illegal. ©Wessex Publications
by Christopher Marlowe
About the Workbook
The material in this package is fully photocopiable for use within the purchasing institution. In addition, you will, of course, need a copy of Dr Faustus.
Using the Materials
We recommend that students read the play at least once through first on their own or as a group in order to get a sound grasp of the text and the characters. The Workbook examines the text and presents the student with ideas, questions, and activities to help her/him develop her/his own understanding and interpretation of it. Sections are also included on Marlowe himself; Religious Belief in Tudor England; English Renaissance culture and theology; Prologue; Characterisation; Theological context; Writing about Language. Essay questions to help students prepare for the examinations are also included. It will be necessary to photocopy the Workbook for each student. You could give each student a guide to keep, but we suggest that you spiral bind or staple them and retain them for future use. The answer boxes may, of course, be used but you will probably prefer students to answer in their notebooks for reasons of cost. However, the size of each box will enable students to gauge how much to write and will make it easier to discuss answers with individuals and groups. The Workbook is written and presented in a similar way to Open University/Open College materials and is intended to be interactive and student-centred. The package is far more than a revision aid or potted guide. Its purpose is both to support the student and enable her/him to work at her/his own pace.
and the author's suggested comments / answers / responses to them are given in a different font (Arial) to enable students to pick them out more easily. Note All quotations from the play itself are shown with speech marks and in Italics. • • Each of the above may be loaded onto your school/college Intranet or printed off separately. Tasks are written using New Times Roman font. This will give you complete flexibility to use the materials as you see fit. answer boxes and author's responses the workbook with tasks and answer boxes only the author's responses only. Using the CD version of the Workbook The CD provides you with three versions of the workbook: • the complete workbook with questions. The Lecturer’s/Teacher’s Role The pack is not intended as a substitute for the teacher/lecturer.The Workbook is written for the student. It can be used in a variety of ways including: • • • • • alongside classwork and group work led by the lecturer/teacher/tutor individual supported-self study (flexible learning) work in class individual work carried out at home paired or small group work revision work. . In our view it is essential that she/he supports the student throughout by providing: • • • • an introduction to Marlowe's work explanation when needed guidance and support individually and within small groups regular checks of the student’s work.
DR FAUSTUS By Christopher Marlowe Student Workbook by Julia Geddes ~ Wessex Publications ~ .
English Renaissance culture and theology 5. Dr Faustus and the Morality Play 11. The author – Christopher Marlowe 3. Using the workbook 2.CONTENTS Page 1. The question of religious belief in Tudor England 4. How to write about language 12. Redemption versus Damnation . Prologue 6. Essay questions 1 2 4 5 6 8 49 55 61 63 64 66 .Scene by scene 7.the theological context of the play 10. Characterisation 8. Themes and Issues 9. The Play .
These will be an important revision aid if you are going to answer on this text in an examination. USING THE WORKBOOK The workbook examines various aspects of Dr Faustus and you will be asked to complete tasks on each of these areas as you progress through the different sections. This workbook addresses the social and historical context of the play that many examination boards require you to focus on in your study of drama texts. These titles and questions would also be suitable for coursework assignments on this text. At the end of the workbook you will find a number of specimen essay questions of the kind that you might find set for AS or A2-Level English Literature (or an examination of similar standard). Some questions may require a fuller response and it would be best if you wrote your comments or answers in your own notebook or file. in a notebook or ring binder.wessexpublications.Dr Faustus Using the workbook 1. All the tasks are designed to help you look carefully at the play and to come to an appreciation of its meaning and significance as a piece of literature. ****** Doctor Faustus From the title page of the 1616 edition www.co. In addition to work in the workbook itself it is advisable to keep your own.uk -1- . fuller notes. Some of the tasks require quite short answers and where this is the case a box is provided in the workbook where you can write down your responses if you wish. If you are going to answer on this text in an examination it would be very useful to you to practise writing answers to several of these and have some idea of how you would tackle any of them. God luck and happy studying.
to spell God backwards’. (1 Born 1564 Cambridge 1584 Friendship with Raleigh Marlowe the rebel Marlowe was probably the most outrageous of the group making no secret of his dissension from orthodox thought. He was accused by his former room mate Kyd of holding ‘monstruous opinions’ and his account in a letter to Sir John Pickering. . corresponds well with the independent witness of one Richard Baines who accused the dramatist of having said: ‘. it is understandable that this popular view of Raleigh and his colleagues predominated.co. was acted by the Lord Admiral’s Men. and that he was acquainted with one Poole a prisoner in Newgate who hath greate skill in mixture of mettals . It was about this time that ‘Tamburlaine’.’(2) 1 Robert Parsons. Marlowe had already begun to acquire a less than favourable reputation through his association with rather radical thinkers led by Sir Walter Raleigh and the suspicion that he had leanings towards Catholicism. That he had as good Right to Coine as the Queen of England. . . Harleian MS. -2- 2 www. and that one Heriots being Sir W. That the first beginning of Religioun was only to keep men in awe. . The powers that be could not afford to be tolerant in the face of religious scepticism. . Responsio ad Elizabethae Edictum. It was reported that the young and intellectual noblemen. and proceeded to the MA in 1587. . . CHRISTOPHER MARLOW 1564-1593 Christopher Marlowe was born in 1564 two months before Shakespeare into a family of very similar standing and influence. . .’ ‘. However. and the scollers taught. jested in their studies at ‘both Moyses and Our Saviour. .uk . That Christ was a bastard and his mother dishonest. among other things.Dr Faustus Christopher Marlow 1564-1593 2.(1) In the light of the Elizabethans’ fear for the security of the Church and State. .6648 fols 185-6. the Lord Keeper.’ ‘. the Old and the New Testamentes. one of his first plays. . That Moyses was but a Jugler. Marlowe went to Corpus Christi College. of which Marlowe was one. Raleighs man Can do more than he. .wessexpublications.. Cambridge on a scholarship and graduated in 1584.’ ‘. His father was a shoemaker who prospered during Marlowe’s youth and became parish clerk in the parish of St Mary Bredman in 1585.
1942).uk -3- . Epilogue. Elizabethan moralists seized with delight on Marlowe’s death and claimed that ‘hee even cursed and blasphemed to his last gaspe and together with his breath an oath flew out of his mouth. gave the said Christopher then and there a mortal wound over his right eye the depth of two inches and the width of one inch. Shakespeare’s one potential rival was dead at the age of 29 having already written his own epitaph in his play ‘Dr Faustus’: ‘Cut is the branch that might have grown full straight. with the dagger aforesaid of the value of 12d. Kyd however.’(3) Frizar was a servant of Sir Thomas Walsingham and within a month he was pardoned for the murder. . who had himself been arrested and tortured. 11. XXV www.’(4) Thus Christopher Marlowe. The Tragicall History of Christopher Marlowe (Harvard. drew their daggers: ‘. 4 Thomas Beard. 1-2 ****** 3 John Bakeless. 156. can be forgiven for his apparent betrayal as he must have known that a few days before his letter was written Marlowe had been murdered in an apparent pub brawl. Ch. It is recorded that after a dispute about payment in a Deptford public house a scuffle ensued followed by ‘divers malicious words’ both men. in defence of his life.wessexpublications. . Theatre of Gods Judgement (1957). and so it befell in that affray that the said Ingram. of which mortal wound the aforesaid Christopher Morley then and there instantly died.co. that is Marlowe and Ingram Frizar.Dr Faustus Christopher Marlow 1564-1593 Murdered 1593 Baines has never been satisfactorily identified hence the motive for this libel remains a mystery. And burned is Apollo’s laurel bough’ Dr Faustus.
and all religion but a device of pollicie’ 5. Government censorship ensured that matters of religion were presented in an acceptable manner. in public or private. By 1606 the state had banned the use on stage (though not in publications) of the name of God.uk -4- . stimulus from abroad and the arguments of antiatheist writers fed speculation. In 1559 a royal proclamation required local officials to ensure that no plays were performed. London 1597. The Theatre of Gods Judgement. and the Holy Bible to be but vaine and idle stories. religious doubt and possible doctrinal heterodoxy – that is to say not following the orthodox view. Four years later Thomas Beard wrote of Marlowe that ‘he denied God and his sonne Christ. Hence we can see that the ‘atheistic’ beliefs attributed to Marlowe are not exceptional. www. It is in fact a period in which ancient ideas. In Marlowe’s plays we see him outlining many of the arguments of antiChristian thought and in consequence presenting a challenge to the rigid ideologies of the time. but also by the self-censorship of the author.Dr Faustus Religious Belief in Tudor England 3. the Holy Ghost or the Trinity.wessexpublications. 147-8. and not only in word blasphemed the trinite. The Renaissance period was. affirming our Saviour to be but a deceiver.co. but also wrote books against it. it seems that Marlowe’s work must have been affected not just by the official censorship of the authorities. Thus we can see that Marlowe’s reputation was not buried with him but to determine how accurate a view this is of the playwright it is important to look at the whole question of religious belief in Tudor England. Marlowe – atheist? Religious dissent in Elizabethan England The Elizabethan theatre and God Renaissance thought 5 Thomas Beard. which dealt with ‘matters of religion or of the governance of the estate of the common weale’ In the 1570’s and 80s it was ordered that even stricter controls over performances should be enforced on local stage productions and in 1586 the government introduced a new licensing system for publications requiring authors and printers to secure the approval of the Archbishop of Canterbury before printing any text. a time when intellectual debate embraced discussions concerning atheism. and Moses to be but a conjurer and seducer of people. Christ. We cannot then regard Marlowe’s plays as unambiguous evidence of his own opinions. but were something body politic was at pains to crush. It is worth noting that religious dissent of any kind was dangerous at this period in history. however. Thus. THE QUESTION OF RELIGIOUS BELIEF IN TUDOR ENGLAND Marlowe’s reputation for atheism survived his death on May 30th 1593. his collaborators and revisers.
is caught up in another life.co. which compared to the higher life is death’ Thus. Confessions and De Civitate Dei (The City of God) a defence of the Christian Church and its place in the world. it appears. like angels before him.uk -5- . Marlowe is reported to have persuaded men ‘not be afeard of bugbearers and hobgoblins’. that of pride and self love. He was firmly committed to the idea of moral autonomy. was created with the power to move upward to God Marlowe agreed that the root of all evil is pride ****** www. His ambition. In so doing. or downward to degradation and misery. whether outside or below it…. When we look at the way Marlowe presents Faustus it is possible to see the Augustinian definition of moral evil being represented in dramatic form. traditional obscurities and confusion that seemed to paralyse scientific thought and obscure truth. Elizabethan theology was greatly influenced by Augustine of Hippo who lived from AD 353 – 430. and turns towards a private good. is to be his own god and to revel in super-human powers. he argued that the root of all evil lies in the impulses of pride and egoism. Most Elizabethans believed that man. he was created with the power to move upward to God. In Faustus we see a man whose pride and egoism lead him to fall away from God.Dr Faustus English Renaissance Culture and Theology 4.wessexpublications. and selfindulgent. He saw pride as the beginning of all sin and the beginning of pride is to fall away from God. in fulfilment of the purpose for which he was made. Augustine’s writings included two books of supreme value. like the angels. Thus a man who becomes proud. we see him fulfilling the Augustinian definition of original sin. The various voyages of discovery opened up a larger world and new insights for the Englishmen at home. curious. His teaching and writings became a touchstone of orthodox Christian doctrine. Intellectually men were at pains to understand the universe and writers like Marlowe did battle with superstition. The Augustine view of man was that. Augustine argued in his writings entitled ‘The Problem of Free Choice’ that: ‘The will sins if it turns away from the unchangeable good which is common to all. ENGLISH RENAISSANCE CULTURE AND THEOLOGY The Renaissance period was an era characterised by exploration and change.
Faustus’s conceit and arrogance is imaged through the death of Icarus who flies too close to the sun and whose wings melted. He was an able boy and ultimately attended the university at Wittenberg.Dr Faustus Prologue 5.uk -6- .co. make notes on what you learn about Faustus’s background and his character. We learn that Faustus comes from humble origins.wessexpublications. www. being born ‘of parents base of stock’ and lived in a small town in Germany. PROLOGUE Having read the prologue that is spoken by the chorus. Dispute/In th’ heavenly matters of theology’ but this was not enough for Faustus. TASK 1 Here are some points I noted: The chorus asserts that this play will not be concerned with the exploits of the gods or of kings but will focus on a relatively lowly character. one of the common weal – Faustus. Here he studied divinity and being an apt scholar he was ‘grac’d with doctor’s name’. His pride in his intellect could not be satisfied with these debates and so he fell to studying necromancy. It appears that he was well respected for his ability to ‘sweetly…. Marlowe asserts ‘His waxen wings did mount above his reach’ but like Icarus on melting ‘heavens conspir’d his overthrow’.
Hence the stage is set for the life and death of Dr. can be seen as representative of Faustus’s career.uk -7- .. a reference that would have been familiar to an Elizabethan audience as he was seen as a symbol of self-destructive aspiration.Dr Faustus Prologue The allusion to Icarus. ****** www.co. Faustus.wessexpublications. a man who prefers ‘a devilish exercise…. before his chiefest bliss’ As the chorus leaves Faustus is revealed to us in his study. The alternative between ‘cursed Necromanice’ and his chiefest bliss’ is presented as the object of Faustus’s deliberate choice.
Faustus dismisses these thoughts of being an esteemed physician and asks ‘Where is Justinian?’ – this is a reference to the sixth century www.Dr Faustus The Play –Scene 1 6.co.wessexpublications. thou hast attain’d that end’. He questions the idea that to argue well is the end of logic because he says if that is all then ‘read no more. Faustus toys with the idea of developing his knowledge of medicine and so ‘be eterniz’d for some wondrous cure’. THE PLAY – SCENE BY SCENE Scene One Having re-read Faustus’s opening soliloquy make notes on how Faustus sums up his life’s history to date. However. as he reflects on this idea he comes to believe that he has already attained this goal but he remains limited by the fact that he is only ‘a man’. He asserts that ‘A greater subject fitteth Faustus wit’.uk -8- . TASK 2 Here are some ideas to add to your own: As we are introduced to Faustus he appears to be dissatisfied with the result of all his learning.
In this sense he seems almost magnificent as he determines to break away from the accepted reasoning of the time.wessexpublications. being aware the years he has spent in thought have left him still unsatisfied. He then sets his sights on divinity but once again comes to the conclusion that as we are all sinners we must ‘die an everlasting death’ divinity cannot offer him the glory that he seeks. but dismisses them as work that ‘fits a necessary drudge’. Thus. he concludes that ‘A sound magician is a mighty god’ and so he directs his thoughts towards this end. Once again. Faustus seems to me a man who refuses to accept the limitations imposed on him by narrow intellectual debate. There is a pathos in Faustus’s position as we are confronted by a man who having reached the mountain-top is clearly oppressed by the fact that he is earth bound and can never www. he turns to necromancy. he meditates on the possibilities open to him in this study of the law. He seems to resent his servitude to the dry and barren learning.co.uk -9- . as he considers ‘a world of profit and delight’. He asserts that ‘All things that move between the quiet poles/shall be at my command’ and so he delights in the idea of his power expanding outward and being far above that of emperors or kings. His language at this point becomes more emotive. Thus. that is the study of the dark arts.Dr Faustus The Play –Scene 1 emperor who codified Roman law. TASK 3 Now consider how we as an audience/reader react to Faustus’s reasoning.
TASK 4 Consider what form Marlowe uses in this opening speech and its significance. nor will it give him the superhuman power he desires. So from the outset of the play we see a man who is both learned. otherwise the verse form reflects Faustus’s logic and his reasoned argument. The overall impression then is very controlled.wessexpublications. a formal.co. TASK 5 Now consider what you think is the impetus behind Faustus’s desires? continues over www. egocentric. The fact that he plunges into the practice of magic can be seen partly as recklessness after his former patience and partly as consolation in that he has to accept that his life’s study will never give him the knowledge he craves.Dr Faustus The Play –Scene 1 reach the skies that he hankers after. learning and knowledge. law. Faustus refuses to accept the conditions of his human nature and the object of all his studies have been to transcend them.10 - .uk . You will have noted that this opening speech is written in iambic pentametre. The only time the pace changes is when Faustus resolves to turn to magic. divinity. The imagery is quite incidental and relates to the central question that of study. physic. but also pitiful in his desire to understand the universe and wield a god-like power. ten-syllable line. proud. but a reasoned and logical thought process. In his rejection of each branch of medieval learning – logic. this is not a passionate outburst. we see a man who refuses to accept that he cannot obtain infinity.
11 - . Up to this point in the play. Faustus has been his own tempter and his obsession with power has over-shadowed the dangerous aspects of the magical books.uk .Dr Faustus The Play –Scene 1 It seems to me that Faustus is urged on by an overwhelming sense of dissatisfaction. Marlowe dramatises through the good and bad angel the idea of choice which characterises the structure of the play. however. honour and omnipotence that could be his if he focuses his mind on the supernatural arts. Here are some points I noted. This speech sees him surveying a life-time spent in trying to make reason adequate to infinity and he is forced to accept that he has been unsuccessful. with the good angel’s warning there can be no avoiding the issue and he is told quite clearly ‘gaze not on it less it tempt thy soul’. In his delusion and arrogance he imagines a life in which ‘All things that move between the quiet poles/shall be at my command’. TASK 6 Now read lines 63-76 and make notes on the significance of the good and bad angels. Faustus is.wessexpublications. However. What he is reading we are told is ‘blasphemy’. www.co. driven by his desire for material power and so when the bad angel suggest that he ‘Go forward’ and ‘Be thou on earth as Jove is in the sky. The evil angel is an embodiment of the conflict and alternatives that continue to face Faustus./Lord and commander of these elements’. he allows himself to become a victim of his own ambitions and desires as he imagines the power. This self-motivated ambition and a desire for knowledge act as a catalyst to Faustus’s study of magic and to his ultimate downfall. Thus. he allows himself to revel in fantastic flights of imagination.
the other protects by admonishment. It is interesting to note that Faustus’s dreams and desires include no one but himself.12 - .wessexpublications. thus. Throughout the play we see the angels function as messengers who present contrasting images to Faustus’s mind and will.co.uk . His desire is the usurpation of God and so like Lucifer. but ultimately only Faustus the man can make the decision.Dr Faustus The Play –Scene 1 The angels then serve to dramatise the idea that not only does Faustus have the opportunity to choose between good and evil. He does not yearn to overthrow legitimate rulers nor does he seek the lives of other human beings. Marlowe then is presenting to us only one victim and that is Faustus himself. illustrating that he is lured by the notion of obtaining such power. TASK 7 Look now at Faustus’s response to these angels and make notes on how Marlowe develops his character at this point in the play. but that the choice is his own and is not constrained./and search all corners of the new-found world/For pleasant fruits and princely delicates’. He is. TASK 8 Now look carefully at what Faustus says to Valdes and Cornelius and make notes on how he presents himself to these ‘gentle friends’. seduced by dreams of wealth and power and in consequence we see his language become quite exalted as he details what delights the spirits he conjures will fetch him. One tempts by deceit. www. He claims he will ‘have them fly to India for gold/Ransack the ocean for orient pearl. his sin is the sin of angels. it appears. Faustus’s first response is to asset ‘How am I glutted with conceit of this!’. He then launches into a flight of fancy that seems to put the bad angel’s suggestions to shame by comparison.
He is anxious.Dr Faustus The Play –Scene 1 On the entry of these two characters.uk . says Faustus. These friends.co. Valdes adds rather ominously. it appears. not to appear too pliant and so he adds that ‘Yet not your words only. we learn that they have for sometime been attempting to lead Faustus into forbidden ways ‘know’. what is your impression of Valdes and Cornelius and how do you think they intend to use Faustus in terms of personal gain? www. Thus. however. finally asserting that ‘Divinity is the basest of the three’. ‘learned Faustus will be resolute’. TASK 9 Having read to the end of the scene.wessexpublications. are content to accept him on these terms and they feed his ego by painting a glowing picture of the possibilities that lie open to them if. we see him laying out a scheme in which his own personal fame and honour are to be the main concerns.13 - . but mine own fantasy’ have led him to this decision. ‘that your words have won me at last/To practice magic and the concealed arts’. He makes it quite clear to them that he is no humble seeker after knowledge and he dismisses his previous study.
co.Dr Faustus The Play –Scene 1 It seems to me that neither Valdes nor Cornelius intend to run themselves into danger. only dabblers in witchcraft and they have never become masters or slaves of the spirits.uk . They are then keen to form a partnership with Faustus because his potentialities far exceed their own. They are. These two can be seen then as the devil’s agent luring Faustus along the road to self destruction.14 - . When Faustus demands ‘Come show me some demonstrations magical’. ****** www. Valdes offers to be his teacher ‘First I’ll instruct thee in the rudiments/and then wilt thou be perfecter than I’. but we are left in no doubt that they mean to use Faustus to attain their own ends and have no intention of forfeiting their salvation for supernatural gifts.wessexpublications. as they assert ‘Faustus may try his cunning for himself’ and so he goes to conjure alone and apart from a passing reference by the student we hear no more of these ‘gentle friends’. it appears.
uk . The scene concludes with the two scholars leaving to seek the Rector who may be able to save Faustus before it’s too late. nothing will reclaim him now’.Dr Faustus The Play –Scene 2 Scene Two In scene two we hear two scholars wondering what has happened to Faustus. who they say used to ‘make our schools ring with sic probo’.co. it is made quite clear to us that this is unlikely as the first scholar asserts ‘I fear me.wessexpublications. However.15 - . Make brief notes on this scene. ****** www. as you see fit. Faustus’s servant and they learn that Faustus is now keeping company with Valdes and Cornelius. that he has ‘fallen into that damned art’ which it appears these two are already famous for. Their response serves to confirm what we. They meet with Wagner. the audience already suspect.
still a moment of hesitation when he asserts ‘Then fear not.Dr Faustus The Play –Scene 3 Scene Three Re-read lines 1-36 of this scene and make notes on your response to Faustus at this point in the play: TASK 10 It is at this point that we see Faustus attempting to apply his magical skills and ‘try if devils will obey thy hest’. Faustus. in the shape of ‘an old Franciscan friar’.co. we see Faustus infatuated by his apparent skill and puffed up with pride and conceit. because he asserts ‘That holy shape becomes a devil best’. He blasphemously demands that the devil he has called return. Thus. however. in this we see Faustus’s wilful desire to insult the heavens and to assert his aspiring pride and insolence. www.16 - . to be resolute’ this qualm is but a fleeting emotion and is soon dismissed as he conjures a devil to appear. He arrogantly interprets the devil’s departure to his own expertise. convincing himself that Mephastophilis is ‘Full of obedience and humility’. one who can command the great Mephastophilis’. There is.uk . The teaching of the church insists that the root of all sin is pride and here we see Faustus displaying his proud arrogance both here on earth and in the face of heaven. ‘Such is the force of magic and my spells’ that he believes he can give himself the title of ‘conjurer laureate’. TASK 11 Now read through the first interview between Faustus and Mephastophilis up to line 115 and make notes on how this exchange can be seen as a more potent warning than the one administered by the good angel.wessexpublications.
The Play –Scene 3
We have seen Faustus exulting in the pliant servility of the devil he has summoned and congratulating himself on his own abilities. He is completely unabashed by Mephastophilis’s assertion that the reason for his appearance was not because Faustus’s speeches raised him, but because of Faustus’s willingness to blaspheme God. He says ‘when we hear one rack the name of God/Abjure the scriptures and his saviour Christ/We fly, in hope to get his glorious soul’. Faustus’s response reveals a man who is intent on making himself appear fearless in the face of apparent terror. He defiantly insists that the word “’damnation’ terrifies him not’. However, both he and the audience are unprepared for Mephastophilis’s response to Faustus’s next question ‘Was not that Lucifer an angel once?’ What we see is Mephastophilis is a momentary flash of pain as he recounts the fall from grace. He passionately asserts, ‘Thinks’t thou that I, who saw the face of God/ And tasted the eternal joys of heaven/Am not tormented with ten thousand hells/In being deprived of everlasting bliss?’ For a brief second we and Faustus are allowed to see into Mephostophilis’s tortured soul and momentarily he is no longer the tempter but a visible warning to any who follow his path. He concludes with the heart rending words ‘O Faustus, leave these frivolous demands,/Which strike terror to my fainting soul’. Mephastophilis has then defined hell by its most spiritual and agonising suffering that is alienation from God. Faustus, however, is too conceited and obsessed with the idea of power to heed this dreadful warning. In this way, Marlowe underlines the fact that Faustus must accept complete responsibility for his fall.
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The Play –Scene 3
Consider Faustus’s response to Mephastophilis lines 85-end of the scene and make notes on what motivates Faustus’s desire to secure a contract with the devil.
Faustus arrogantly dismisses Mephastophilis’s terror and sets himself up as an example of ‘manly fortitude’. What drives him on is his rapacious desire for power wanting he says to ‘live in all voluptuousness’ and have Mephastophilis fulfil his every command. His self-aggrandisement is not to be satisfied by, small glories, but he desires to be ‘great emperor of the world’. Thus, we see him abandoning any personal responsibility, being blinded by visions of power and glory and scorning any possibility of spiritual salvation.
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The Play –Scene 4
This scene provides a comic interlude after the serious machinations of the previous exchange. What we see here is a parallel at a lower level of what is happening to Faustus. However, unlike Faustus, this boy Robin is impoverished and in need of sustenance, Wagner says of him ‘I know the villain’s out of service, and so hungry that I know he would give his soul to the devil for a shoulder of mutton, though it were blood-raw’. This man, it seems has some cause to sell his soul, although it appears he is rather unwillingly pressed into Wagner’s service. Faustus, in contrast is a willing fool who is to ignore all warnings and is bent on self destruction. This comedy then, serves to undercut the grandeur of Faustus’s dreams by making them appear as foolish as the parody that takes place between Robin and Wagner. It also illustrates that one doesn’t have to be a learned doctor to be able to summon up devils, thus, demonstrating that Faustus’s magic is of no special consequence. Make brief notes on the scene for your file, as you see fit.
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we see Faustus in his study as his resolution seems to waiver. Faustus despairs in God because he is quite clear that he will not feed his desires. and trust in Beelzebub!’ He believes that any retraction would be a backward step. but the irony lies in the fact that what is backward for Faustus is forward for the rest of humanity in a search for spiritual fulfilment. and despair. Despair in God.wessexpublications. as he recognises that ‘The god thou serv’st is thine own appetite’. TASK 14 Having read the exchange between Faustus and the Good and Bad Angels.Dr Faustus The Play –Scene 5 Scene Five Once again.uk . Look at this first of his many temptations to repent and make notes on how he continues on his road to destruction. ‘And offer lukewarm blood of new-born babes’. what is it do you think that obliterates the repeated urgings of the Good Angel to think on heavenly things? www. TASK 13 Faustus questions ‘What boots it then to think of God or heaven?’/Away with such vain fancies.20 - . He is in fact disarmingly honest about himself. but this new religion is more forceful than his former one and so he determines to build an alter and church to Beelzebub’ and makes the exaggerated claim.co.
‘it is a comfort to have had companions in misfortune’. this time alighting on Emden.co. Faustus is oblivious to these warnings and overt descriptions of everlasting torment. O man.wessexpublications. he must have a signed contract. but even before he returns Faustus has rejected the warning that is implicit in the phenomenon.21 - www. which was in the sixteenth century the headquarters of Europe’s largest merchant fleet. the contract of damnation is completed with the last words Christ uttered on the cross and Marlowe daringly fuses Christ’s final sacrifice for man’s sin with Faustus’s sacrifice of his soul.uk . Once again. TASK 15 Now look at lines 31 from the entry of Mephastophilis to 82 and make notes on the significance of the contract and the congealing of Faustus’s blood. TASK 16 There follows a warning at the close of this contract in the form of the words ‘Homo Fuge’ meaning Fly. What do you feel is the significance of these words and Mephasptohilis’s reaction to them? . Thus. It appears that Lucifer cannot be satisfied with just the word of Faustus. an important port in North West Germany. it appears that the devil is not as powerful as Faustus believes and when he questions Mephastophilis on ‘what good/will my soul do thy lord?’ He is told that to the unhappy. As he writes his blood congeals and quite appropriately the devil brings him fire to make it flow again. Thus we can see Faustus allowing avarice to inform his decision. Thus.Dr Faustus The Play –Scene 5 Faustus it appears is determined to be deaf to any idea of repentance and it only takes the Evil Angel to make a simple suggestion to ‘think of honour and of wealth’ to sway Faustus away from any thought of ‘heaven and heavenly things’ and for him to summon up visions of power and wealth. He then concludes the contract with the words ‘Consummatum est’ meaning it is finished.
co. but he believes it is now too late to repent as he asserts ‘Whither should I fly?/If unto God.22 - . ‘I will bring him somewhat to delight his mind’ and we are told the devils appear with concrete symbols of wealth. Faustus continues to be seduced by images of wealth and each time he is tempted to return to the path of righteousness the devils’ delights become more alluring. TASK 17 Now read on to line 116 where Faustus makes his first request with his new found power. However. in reality it appears that the conflict that has been set in motion as a result of these words only serves to suggest that the devil. Thus. he once again remains faithful to the god of his own appetite. What does Faustus’s rejection of this description illustrate about himself as a character and his obsession with wealth? www. he’ll throw me down to hell’.wessexpublications. Hence Marlowe creates dramatic irony as it is made clear to the audience that the Devil does not have absolute power. that of wanting a description of hell. Mephostophilis says. has not taken complete control of his victim. It appears that he must still draw Faustus away from every temptation to turn back to God.uk . Faustus’s choice is not a single moment. even after the contract has been signed.Dr Faustus The Play –Scene 5 Once again. Faustus is given a warning. a point Faustus repeatedly fails to understand. However. but a series of moments and each time he is free to choose which path he wishes to take.
because his mind is set on the prospect of unprecedented wealth and temporal glory.co.Dr Faustus The Play –Scene 5 Here are some points I noted: Mephastophilis gives Faustus an orthodox response to his question which includes the notion not only of an inward.23 - . Once again. At this point in the play Faustus is deaf to any warnings of prophecies. www. Mephastophilis imagines hell as a place with no boundaries.wessexpublications. there must we ever be’.uk . but it is made clear to us that experience will change his mind. It is all encompassing because he says ‘Where we are is hell/And where hell is. till experience change thy mind’ goes unheeded by Faustus. What is presented both to us and to Faustus is the fact that hell is not so much a place but a condition. in keeping with 16th Century views of damnation. TASK 18 Look now at Mephastophilis’s description of hell and comment on the picture that is presented to us. we see Faustus behaving like a blind fool who is instrumental in creating his own blindness. spiritual state. Mephastophilis’s reply ‘Ay. an everlasting torment. think so still. but also an external location. Faustus’s reaction is to dismiss this information with the assertion ‘I think hell’s a fable’.
The truth is that the devil www. if an individual makes that choice.Dr Faustus The Play –Scene 5 TASK 19 In the light of this description.24 - . but Faustus sees only what is on the surface. eating.uk . it is made quite clear to him that he must suffer the inevitable consequences of his decision. how do you respond to Faustus’s insistence that ‘these are trifles and more old wives tales’? It seems to me that what Faustus refuses to see is that hell is what he sees before him. that is his desire for a wife. walking.co. He then makes every attempt to dissuade Faustus from his desire by offering to supply a series of beautiful courtesans. that is Mephastophilis ‘sleeping. The devil is clearly uncomfortable with this suggestion and presents Faustus with the spectacle of a women devil.wessexpublications. Mephastophilis makes it quite clear that ‘I am damn’d and now in hell’. disputing’ he fails to acknowledge that hell is not a fable. What do we learn about the power of the devil from what ensues in this scene? Mephastophilis dismisses Faustus’s request out of hand saying ‘talk not of a wife’. TASK 20 Look now at Faustus’s second request. However. it is a choice. but an inevitable reality and what is more.
Hence Faustus’s bargain to have the devil grant him whatever he demands has constraints upon it from the outset. however. thank thyself’. is a conflict of conscience. The irony comes. an institution established by God. we see the limitation of the devil’s power in that he is impotent to provide anything sanctioned by God. another point Faustus fails to see. This is.co. but what he cannot. TASK 21 Faustus’s next request is to ‘have a book where I might see all characters of planets of the heavens. comprehend is that the choice was entirely his own. as yet./Because thou hast depriv’d me of those joys’. TASK 22 Now look at the way the spiritual conflict is heightened with the entrance of the Good and Bad Angels and make notes on what it reveals about Faustus’s struggle and what it is that enable him to keep his resolve not to repent.Dr Faustus The Play –Scene 5 cannot supply a wife. He calls out ‘When I behold the heavens. however. continues over www. Once again. what Faustus has been unable to see. because marriage is a Christian sacrament. in Mephastophilis’s reply that ‘Twas thine own seeking Faustus. which arises from his meditations on the heavens. Thus. He is quick to blame the devil for leading him astray.25 - . of course. then I repent/And curse thee wicked Mephastophilis. What is the result of this request in terms of Faustus’s state of mind? What we see here for the first time in Faustus.wessexpublications.uk . Faustus is dissatisfied.’ ‘Lines 162-187’. that I might know their motions and dispositions.
Faustus admits to being very close to despair and coming close to committing the ultimate sin. Faustus demands to know the answer to the most significant question: ‘Who made the World?’ but Mephastophilis refuses to answer and warns him. TASK 23 Re-read the astrological debate that takes place between Faustus and Mephastophilis and consider the importance of where this discussion leads and the implications it has for the initial bargain. Thus his spiritual conflicts are temporarily dissolved because ‘sweete pleasure conquer’d despair’.co. ‘Move me not Faustus’. Hence we see just the memory of pleasure is enough to strengthen Faustus’s resolve not to repent. The discussion proceeds logically as Faustus demands information concerning the movement of the planets to that of the moving Intelligences and then finally to the Supreme Being. but each time his thoughts move towards God. Suicide being considered a sin before God and one which automatically results in everlasting torment.uk .wessexpublications. the devils have proffered the means by which he could take his own life. Thus Marlowe reaffirms the weakness of Faustus’ nature in that he is unable to see anything beyond immediate gratification and earthly glory. Once www.Dr Faustus The Play –Scene 5 Faustus is presented with opportunity to repent and it seems that his present struggle is one of many. but each time he is saved by the principle of pleasure which forms the main story of his existence.26 - . the catalyst to everything else.
TASK 24 What do you feel is the significance of this astronomical episode in terms of the conflict between good and evil in the play so far? Here are some ideas to add to your own: • • • Faustus no longer completely ignores the promise of heaven. He who was once eager with anticipation now expresses discontent with the knowledge the devil can give him. ‘O Christ.wessexpublications. honour and power that acted as a catalyst to that career. Look at the exchange that takes place here and make notes on what is ironic about Faustus’s position. It is clear that his struggles are causing him pain as he cries out.uk . Beelzebub and Mephastophilis to his side. think thou of hell’. Faustus’s life is now characterised by a pattern of fear and pleasure. He now lives in fear of the devil’s threats of physical pain but he also continues to be lured by new pleasures. brings Lucifer./Help to save distressed Faustus’ soul’.co. We see the devil having to become more insistent in terms of commitment and resolve from Faustus. We are made to see the fundamental irony of Faustus’s life that of the contrast between the actual accomplishments of his magical career and the original dreams of wealth. • • TASK 25 In the next section with the entry of the two Angels Faustus comes closer to repentance than anywhere else in the play. www. my saviour. It appears that the bait of pleasure is not always sufficient to assuage Faustus’s suffering. His cry however.Dr Faustus The Play –Scene 5 again we can see that the contract has failed. His only advice is.27 - . ‘Thou art damn’d. as the devil is powerless to tell him anything that works against the kingdom of the damned. my saviour. The situation is characterised by pathos as Faustus is made to see that the final ends of knowledge are to him unapproachable.
In consequence he avows. Thus ironically Faustus. Faustus then is told not to talk ‘of paradise or creation. who believed he would force spirits to obey his every command.28 - . makes himself their obedient slave. but mark the show’. (Lines 280 – end of the scene). ‘Never to name God or to pray to him/To burn his scriptures.co./And make my spirits pull his churches down’. Faustus is now treated to a display by the seven deadly sins who perform before him to gratify Faustus’s whims. in other words he must focus only on the appearance of pleasure but seek not to find true satisfaction. In begging their pardon and uttering these blasphemous words he renews his submission to the devil.Dr Faustus The Play –Scene 5 Faustus is visibly frightened by the arrival of the devils believing that. slay his ministers.wessexpublications. He responds with the greatest delight blasphemously asserting that the ‘sight will be as pleasant to me as paradise was to/Adam the first day of his creation’. TASK 26 Re-read the section in which the seven deadly sins appear and comment on what Faustus is presented with in this section. www.uk . ‘they are come to fetch thy soul’.
uk .wessexpublications.co.Dr Faustus The Play –Scene 5 www.29 - .
‘the first letter of my name is lechery’. ‘Indeed I do – what do I not’ there is no possibility of true fulfilment. by an old miser in his old leather purse and its obsession is with wealth and possession. it says. of course.’ To which Gluttony replies. He is.wessexpublications. interestingly it was considered by religious thinkers of the time to be the worst sin as it displayed a disdain of God and made man appear to himself as of greater worth than the Holy Trinity.’ Although Faustus appears unmoved by this retort it carries with it a sense of his possible future. ‘No I’ll see thee hanged. like the flea. ‘I was born in hell’ and then offers a warning that one should beware ‘for some of you shall be my father’. this would have been a familiar jest to an Elizabethan audience implying perhaps that lechery is only the beginning of what may be possible if this sin is allowed free reign. Gluttony is again without parents but details a lineage of food and wine concluding with a desire for Faustus to. • • • • • • It is interesting to note Faustus’s response to this spectacle he says. Covetousness is the second sin and once again it is presented as teetering on the edge of civilised society. It was created. Lechery is the last and it asserts that it prefers a small quantity of virility rather than a large portion of impotence. with a vengeance’. viewing what he has seen as an www. asserts. It introduces itself as disdaining to have any parents thus it has severed any earthly links with the possibility of unconditional love. Through the use of the comparison with the flea it is suggested that Pride make false liberties but will always be a detested quality. each pleasure described is momentary. Wrath says.uk . Sloth is as must be expected too lazy to speak and so appears only fleetingly before Faustus. it spends its time wounding and attacking itself.Dr Faustus The Play –Scene 5 Here are some ideas to add to your own:• Pride is the first sin that is paraded before Faustus. Lucifer dismisses this sin but before it departs it asserts. Wrath is another parentless quality who asserts that when it cannot fight with anyone else. There is however. ‘bid me to supper’.30 - . Pride now compares itself to Ovid’s flea the allusion being to the poem the ‘Song of the Flea’ by Ovid in which the poet asserts his envy of the flea’s freedom of movement over his mistress’s body. ‘O this feeds my soul’ a very strange assertion in the light of what he has just seen. ‘Then the devil choke thee. an irony here in that although Pride. Envy is portrayed as filthy and stinking being the progeny of a chimneysweeper and any oyster-wife and Faustus is keen to dismiss this sin as it calls on him to ‘Come down.co. Faustus is naturally alarmed at the thought and replies quite venomently. Hence he implies that anyone has the potential to bring wrath into being.
but Lucifer makes it quite clear that these are quite typical of what he may hope to experience himself in hell.wessexpublications.Dr Faustus The Play –Scene 5 amusing interlude. Lucifer naturally dresses up what hell has to offer saying.’ The scene concludes with Faustus once again satisfied by the illusion of pleasure and grateful for a book which will enable him to transform into whatever shape his fancy takes a liking to. ‘in hell is all manner of delight. ****** www.co.uk .31 - . The irony lies in the fact that this seems far removed from Faustus’s initial desires. It appears then that he has sold his soul to the devil for nothing more than an illusion of power and what he is left with is the ability to turn himself into different shapes rather like a performing clown.
wessexpublications.co. This it appears is to ‘make all the maidens in our parish dance at my pleasure stark naked before me…’ Rafe is soon persuaded to believe in Robin’s abilities when he is promised Nan Spit. the kitchen maid for his delight. a contract with the devil leads inevitably to the loss of human dignity and order. ‘Why the most intolerable book for conjuring…’ . ill-educated men whose command even of their native tongue is limited as we hear Robin say. Instead of Helen of Troy whom Faustus conjures later in the text the men here speak of Nan Spit. Marlowe seems to be insisting then that Faustus’s contract is not in itself unusual. they desire simple whores.Dr Faustus The Play –Scene 6 Scene Six Re-read this scene in which Robin and Rafe discuss the possibilities that open up before them as they look at one of Faustus’s conjuring books. Thus we see Marlowe using the parody to make clear in the simplest terms the real nature of Faustus’s bargain. The results are however. TASK 27 Now consider the purpose of this comic scene in connection with the Faustus plot. www.uk . It seems to me that Marlowe is using the comic scenes as an ironic commentary on Faustus’s bargain and use of power. Having stolen this book Robin asserts that he intends ‘to search some circles for my own use’.meaning in fact incomparable. it can in fact be made by anyone.32 - . shown to be able to play tricks that are essentially no different from those performed by the learne’d Faustus. Marlowe makes it quite plain that these are foolish. These low-life characters are however. It is we see empty and hollow leading only to self-destruction and degradation. the same. They differ only in the fact that rather than craving distinguished courtesans.
as readers it is possible to see his restlessness as another example of a man who is bound by his own mortality.co. All of this is performed whilst under the cloak of invisibility. He has it appears. not one might argue one of the greatest feats performed by a mighty ruler! www. thus he is able to realise every child’s dream that of being able to insult authority without being found out.33 - . We find Faustus now in Rome at the court of the Pope accompanied by Mephostophilis. but to attain this knowledge he is seated in a ‘chariot burning bright’. attempted to ‘know the secrets of astronomy’. snatching away his meat and wine and in time schoolboy fashion speaking out of turn in the Pope’s hearing. Faustus describes his journeying to us describing what he has seen and the pleasure he has taken in his travels.wessexpublications. His journeying fails to satisfy his original aspirations. He is allowed to play tricks on the Pope. but ironically ‘Drawn by the strength of yoked dragon’s necks’ not quite the transport for a demi-god one might argue. The scene ends with Faustus flinging fireworks at the Friars and running away. TASK 28 Having read Scene VII what irony do you find here in Faustus’s behaviour and apparent satisfaction? Here are some points I noted. Instead of becoming the all-powerful commander of the world Faustus is seen as nothing more than a rather foolish practical joker.uk . However.Dr Faustus The Play –Scene 7 Scene Seven The chorus has told us of Faustus’s exploits. Here we have then the man who dreamed of controlling lives and having power over all earthly rulers being no better than a curt jester.
TASK 29 Consider the significance of this transformation and its connection with Faustus’s situation.Dr Faustus The Play –Scene 8 Scene Eight We are presented once again with a comic interlude as Rafe and Robin attempt to gull the Vintner.34 - . However. Like Faustus these men are ultimately bullied by the devil and the result of their encounter is a physical representation of what Faustus must endure spiritually. The scene concludes with the low life characters being transformed into an ape and a dog. that is the loss of human dignity.co. their use of Faustus’s book results in the arrival of Mephostophilis who is less than pleased to have been forced to travel from Constantinople to answer their pleasure.uk .wessexpublications. It is once again affirmed that having the power to conjure devils does not mean that one has the power to command once they have appeared. ****** www.
‘It is not in my ability to present before your eyes the true substantial bodies of those two deceased princes.’ He can only raise up spirits that resemble Alexander and his lover. Even his revenge on the knight is performed vicariously and he must bid Mephastophilis ‘transform him straight’ when he removes the horns from his head.Dr Faustus The Play –Scene 9 Scene Nine The Chorus in the form of Wagner has told us of how Faustus’s fame has ‘spread forth in every land’.uk .co. Here we have then the man who looked forward to controlling the lives of all earthly rulers being no more than a puppet at the court of an Emperor performing tricks.wessexpublications. TASK 30 Having read this scene again what do you note of Faustus’s powers? Here are some points I noted. and Marlowe presents us with a man who creates illusions second hand through the real power of Mephastophilis. of course. that he cannot in fact even perform this trick as it is Mephostophilis who has the power to produce these illusions not Faustus. ****** www. It is quite clear to us.’ When he is asked to bring forth both Alexander the Great and his paramour Faustus confesses that.35 - . ‘he looks much like a conjuror. The knight derisively asserts. Faustus is presented to us not as a man of super-human powers but more as a court entertainer. Thus Faustus appears to be locked into a career of buffoonery and there seems very little to separate him from the low life comedy characters of Robin and Rafe. and we now find him at the palace of Carolus the Fifth.
Having read this scene you will have noted the horse-dealer assertion as he leaves him saying. He questions ‘What art thou. Christ did call the thief upon the cross.’ Make notes on how Faustus reacts to this assertion in the speech that follows L.co. The Horse-dealer takes no heed of this advice and is made to part with another forty pounds as Mephostophilis creates the illusion of Faustus’s leg coming away in the dealer’s hand as he tries to wake Faustus from his sleep. it was commonly believed. We see him moving from despair.uk . but a man condemned to die?’ If we compare this to his earlier struggles it seems only a feeble stirring of his conscience. but nevertheless we have to see its importance in terms of the fact that Faustus is moved to contemplate his fate in the midst of a comic deceit. It is also significant the way in which Faustus resolves his conflict.23-29.wessexpublications. ‘Well Sir. Faustus. to presumption saying. He does warn him not to ride it into water as this. ‘Despair doth drive distrust unto my thoughts’. which he freely admits to as he says. Now am I made man forever. would dissolve a witch’s spell.Dr Faustus The Play –Scene 10 Scene Ten We are presented in this scene with yet another comic deceit as Faustus gulls a horse-dealer into buying a bale of hay disguised in the form of a horse. ‘Tush.’ He is here recalling St Luke’s Gospel who relates Christ’s words of comfort to the crucified thief telling him he shall be with him in paradise. www.36 - . TASK 31 The parting words of the dealer act as a catalyst to Faustus’s thoughts on his own situation as he contemplates his fate.
Thus it is made clear to us that Marlowe is underlining the quality of Faustus’s career. ****** www. The Elizabethan audience would have been aware of the sermon that told of two kinds of faithless men.37 - . those who despair of forgiveness and those who gamble on Christ’s mercy.wessexpublications.co. hoping for last minute absolution from their sins. What we have to remember here is that Faustus’s choice is not irrevocable until his death and it is this that adds to the tragedy of his situation.Dr Faustus The Play –Scene 10 It is interesting to note here how Marlowe has introduced a familiar Elizabethan theological concept that despair and presumption are the two greatest obstacles to redemption and ultimate salvation. We see him struggling with his spiritual conflict but the path he chooses to resolve that struggle is one that an Elizabethan audience would see as the route to eternal damnation. Marlowe is thus able to maintain one of the main dramatic tensions of the play because we are constantly reminded of the possibility of Faustus’s repentance. He is it seems intent on choosing the way to damnation.uk . These then were seen as the two extremes in which men sin against hope as they shut out the means by which the Holy Ghost can work on man.
as you see fit./ And search all corners of the new found world/For pleasant fruits and princely delicates’.38 - ./ Ransack the ocean for orient pearl. ‘… fly to India for Gold.Dr Faustus The Play –Scene 11 Scene Eleven Scene eleven presents us with yet another tableau of Faustus conjuring small delights for the rich man’s table.wessexpublications. Once again we are asked to consider the differences between what Faustus believed he was going to be able to do when he struck his bargain with the devil. Hence it is made clear to us once again that there is a fundamental irony in terms of the contrast between what Faustus thought he was going to achieve in his magical career and his actual accomplishments. the reality is that his power amounts to no more than commanding spirits to bring grapes to the Duchess of Vanholt.uk . If we look back to Scene One Lines 81-99 we hear him declaring he shall have spirits who will. However. ****** www.co. Make brief notes on this scene.
He offers to ‘guide thy stops unto the way of life’. This however. TASK 32 Look now at the old man’s admonition and consider the effect it has on Faustus as he moves closer to his final agony. ‘Damned art thou Faustus./The stench whereof corrupts the inward soul/With such flagitious crimes of heinous sins. The old man attempts to lead Faustus out of the wilderness where his ‘most vile and loathsome filthiness.co.wessexpublications. In a moment of agony he questions what he has done and asserts. ‘My master means to die shortly/For he hath given to me all his goods!’ However. ‘Happy and blest be Faustus evermore.uk . As no commiseration may expel’.’ The dramatic irony is once more made clear to the audience as the very fact that Faustus is able to produce these insubstantial shadows is because he has become spiritually bereft and is certainly not blessed. After the illusion of Helen of Troy on stage the scholars thank Faustus for his vision saying.39 - . results in Faustus again falling into the sin of despair. he is not able to direct his thoughts towards salvation.Dr Faustus The Play –Scene 12 Scene Twelve This scene opens with the words of Wagner who prepares us for Faustus’s impending doom as he tells how he believes. despair and die!’ It is at this point that Mephastpohilis gives him a dagger to perpetrate the ultimate sin www. rather than prepare himself for death in sombre mood we learn that Faustus carouses amongst the students. damned.
Faustus’s tone here is quite different to the one we hear when he attempts to look toward God.40 - .Dr Faustus The Play –Scene 12 against God that of taking one’s own life. and yet I do despair/Hell strives with grace for conquest in my breast. that of choice. He pleads with Mephastophilis to ‘Pardon my unjust presumption’ and he recklessly offers to renew his www. by the intervention of the Old Man who insists that all he need do is ‘call for mercy.co.wessexpublications. He is prevented however. TASK 34 In contrast look now at Faustus’s response to Mephastophilis when he accuses him of treason and threatens to tear his flesh. and avoid despair’. TASK 33 Now look at Faustus’s attempt at repentance and comment on why he is unable to break his bargain with the devil. At this point in the play then we see Faustus wavering and Marlowe reaffirms one of the central issues of the play. Faustus says.’ What we see here is a man who is unable to bring himself to fully trust in God’s mercy and so his repentance is empty. ‘I do repent.uk .
but only evil spirits who are disguised as them. an illusion he has already referred to as ‘heavenly’ (line 75). but instead of giving Faustus penance to do for his sin he suggests some pleasure to gratify Faustus’s desires. TASK 35 Re-read Faustus’s response to Helen of Troy and comment on the irony of his description. However. TASK 36 Now read the rest of Faustus’s apostrophe to Helen and comment on how the irony is working in the rest of this speech. Here then we have the admission from Mephostophilis that he is in fact powerless to reach Faustus’s soul whilst he still lives.uk . What Marlowe presents here is a man then who is completely unable to distinguish between heaven and hell.Dr Faustus The Play –Scene 12 former vow with his blood. ‘Here will I dwell. You must look closely at the language and the ironies implicit in the imagery.co./But what I may afflict his body with. ‘I cannot touch his soul. then he appeals for mercy and pardon and resolves by the renewal of his vow not to offend his lord again. It is worth noting that Helen of Troy was often used by the Elizabethans as a symbol of destructive beauty and sinful pleasure. We are also asked to consider the irony of Mephastophilis’s confession that.wessexpublications. Faustus is overwhelmed by Helen’s beauty and as he looks on her he asserts. We see Faustus acknowledge his offence. Here then we have a man who at the climax of his magical career sees heaven in a spirit’s lips. what he can produce are illusions as neither he nor Faustus have the power to conjure real people. Hence it is possible to see Mephastophilis as a kind of substitute FatherConfessor. for heaven be in these lips’. continues over www. What is revealed here is an ironic inversion of the threefold process of Christian repentance.41 - . I will attempt’.
wessexpublications.Dr Faustus The Play –Scene 12 www.42 - .co.uk .
’ Faustus declares but a soul that is sucked out cannot be given back again and what Faustus is really seeing is hell not heaven in her lips./And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?’ It is possible to see this as a statement of Faustus’s fate in that Helen who caused Troy to burn.uk . will in fact do the same for Faustus. ‘Sweet Helen. . for hence I fly unto my God’. Thus it is possible for us to see through the combination of these opposing images the destructive reality that lies beneath the illusion of Helen that provokes Faustus’s unrealisable passion. If we look closely at each precise image that is presented to Faustus we will see a series of ironies developing: Faustus says.wessexpublications. Once again the language reiterates the image of fire as he refers to ‘this furnace’ where ‘God shall try my faith’ and the Old Man leaves Faustus to his chosen course asserting. ‘Brighter art thou than flaming Jupiter/When he appeared to hapless Semele. If we look closely at the language we see that it is characterised by images of fire ‘flaming Jupiter’ and heavenly bliss and immortality. miserable man’. make me immortal with a kiss.Dr Faustus The Play –Scene 12 Here are some ideas to add to your own. Helen is ‘More lovely than the monarch of the sky/In wanton Arethusa’s azured arms’ but like Arethusa Faustus will come to hold the burning stars in his arms and feel the full force of their fiery pain. ‘Hence to hell.co.43 - • • • • • • • www. It could be suggested then that the point at which Faustus embraces the demonic Helen is a visual representation of Faustus’s union with hell. • What Faustus sees in Helen is not what the audience is able to see. ‘Her lips suck forth my soul.’ but ironically the only immortality attained through the kisses of a demon lover is an eternity in hell. Marlowe. and so we are left with the contrast the old man embraces God whilst Faustus is left to his own damnation. ‘Accursed Faustus. Faustus says. ‘Was this the face that launched a thousand ships. The scene concludes with Faustus being abandoned by the Old Man who describes him as. as yet had very little reference to the flames of damnation. It is noticeable that in a play that deals so directly with heaven and hell we have. ‘Sweet Helen make me immortal’ and ‘Here I will dwell. for heaven is in these lips’.’ says Faustus but the reality is that the flames of Helen will consume Faustus and contribute to his final destruction as he is sucked into the flames of hell. it seems has been saving this for the ultimate ironic moment just when Faustus seems to have reached the peak of his aspiration the language is characterised by the fires of hell producing both dramatic imagery and dramatic allusion.
Thus. www.44 - .Dr Faustus The Play –Scene 13 Scene Thirteen Re-read this scene up to the departure of the scholars and make notes on the way Faustus is presented in these last moments before his final agony. ‘The serpent that tempted Eve may be saved. but not Faustus’. be saved from external damnation. we see a man who refuses to recognise that he is simply a frail and vulnerable human being who could. He claims that he has committed an offence that can never be pardoned.co.wessexpublications. may be saved. TASK 37 Here are some ideas to add to you own: • Faustus asserts ‘now I die eternally’ and the scholars beg him to think on God and his mercies. if he so chose. Rather he chooses to imagine an impossibility that the serpent whose choice of damnation was always permanent. but once again Faustus demonstrates his pride.uk .
Dr Faustus The Play –Scene 13 • Faustus is now presented to us as a man who cannot repent. the seat of God.45 - . In desperation he calls out that the devil ‘Stays my tongue’. the man who believed he had gained super-human powers and who is now reduced to cowering and moaning as he contemplates eternal alienation from God. he struggles and suffers. TASK 38 Re-read lines 59-89 and make notes on the emotions and sufferings of Faustus in these last moments before his final damnation. which find expression in the illusion of the devil coming to fetch him. Sweet friends. ah.’ Here we have then the terrible irony of the man who arrogantly dismissed Mephastophilis when he described the sufferings of hell. but feels bound by the devil. the throne of the blessed. ‘I would lift up my hands. they hold them.uk . he cannot pray. continues over www. hell forever. they hold them. what shall become of Faustus. Look carefully at the language and consider Faustus as you see him now in relation to the way he was presented at the outset of the play. the kingdom of joy and must remain in hell for ever . being in hell forever?’ Marlowe presents us with a pathetic character whose mind is torn with fear and anxiety.hell.wessexpublications. Thus. we are asked to look on this character and consider his sin and we have to recognise that Faustus’s sin is not that of malicious action. but see.co. but it lies in the vacillations of his will and intellect. There is a terrible tragedy in Faustus’s realisation of what he has lost as he says ‘both Germany and the world – yea heaven itself – heaven.
battling against time.co. another of Marlowe’s characters.uk . like Edward II. You see him now in his final agony once again alone in his study after twenty-four years of conceit and illusive power. His futile struggle . limit and determine man’s life and actions.wessexpublications. In the opening lines we hear Faustus.46 - • www. The twenty-four years of life can be linked to the twenty-four hours of the day in that both order. proud and full of ambition. He was a man who deliberately chose the devil and continually rejected both fact and reality.Dr Faustus The Play –Scene 13 • If you recall Faustus at the beginning of the play you will remember a man who was arrogant. What you now see before us is a man limited by time and his own mortality.
‘I’ll leap up to my God! Who pulls me down?/See see where Christ’s blood streams in the firmament!/One drop would save my soul.Dr Faustus The Play –Scene 13 serves to reinforce Faustus’s rebellion against reality and Marlowe emphasises this in the dramatic action as the clock chimes at the half hour making it quite clear both to us and to Faustus that time moves on and cannot be halted. asks the impossible that time should cease and this request serves to emphasise the point that the whole of Faustus’s magical career has been focused on the realisation of the impossible. but who now sees the message of redemption only when it is too late. continues over www. Marlowe uses an echo here of renaissance spiritual texts when he has Faustus involve the mountains and the hills. • As Faustus is forced to realise that he cannot conquer time he makes a last desperate attempt to embrace God as he says. The intensity of Faustus’s struggle is made more apparent by the way Marlowe structures the verse as we see Faustus being torn between thoughts of God and thoughts of the devil. What we are presented with here is the irony of a man who refused to acknowledge the warning of his own congealing blood when he signed the contract with the devil. They were often used to describe the last judgement and plight of the fever-ridden but unrepentant sinners. like Edward II. A clear example can be seen in the lines ‘O I’ll leap up to my God! Who pulls me down’ and ‘Yet I will call on him – O spare me Lucifer’.uk . • • TASK 39 Read now to the end of the Faustus’s monologue and make notes on your response to the way Marlowe presents Faustus’s final end. Once Faustus is focused on the devil all he can then see is the wrath of God and he tries desperately to involve the aid of the elements whom he once thought to command.co. half a drop: ah my Christ!’.47 - . Faustus begs them to fall on him to ‘hide me from the heavy wrath of God’. As he calls out to Christ the devil strikes at his heart and in his fear and terror Faustus pleads for the mercy of the devil rather than the mercy of God. Faustus then.wessexpublications.
co. Once again.wessexpublications. there is a terrible irony in this desire from a man who once took such delight in sensuality begs only to be released into the unfeeling elements.Dr Faustus The Play –Scene 13 In his last moments we hear Faustus longing for extinction or to be turned into ‘some brutish beast’ whose soul could be dissolved in the elements. but he is impotent to change the course he must now follow and Marlowe builds up to the final climatic moment by the sound of the clock’s striking twelve and the crashing of thunder and lightning as Faustus is harried away bleating that ‘I’ll burn my books’.48 - . Marlowe leaves us in no doubt that Faustus has doomed himself to hell by the perversity of his own will. but the consequences of his choice and for the first time the fetters are lifted from his eyes and he sees clearly that he must accept the responsibility for what he has done. ****** www. Hence. The play concludes with the return of the chorus to the stage to issue a subtle warning to those ‘Whose deepness doth entice such forward wits.uk . the play concludes with the victim of his own arrogant conceit and pride being caught in the tangled web he has woven for himself. It is made clear to us that it is not death that Faustus fears. but then he finally recognises the truth ‘Ah Faustus. curse thyself…’ Faustus may see the truth./To practice more than heavenly power permits’. At first he looks for a scapegoat as he cries ‘Cursed be the parents that engendered me’.
it appears. The character we are presented with is one that is filled with pride and carries an egoistic ambition to become his own god. He does not. He is presented with a choice either to follow the path of righteousness which may not bring worldly acclaim. no fool and on our first meeting with him he is presented as a learn’d doctor who is ‘excellent perfect in the holy scriptures’. CHARACTERISATION FAUSTUS One very notable aspect of this play is that on the whole it features only one significant character. He is simply the victim of his own conscious wilfulness. Throughout the text the dramatic light is focused solely on Faustus. At the beginning of the play Faustus is presented to us as a wholly egocentric man. a man who does not inflict suffering upon others nor does he receive pain from them. Here are some ideas to add to your own • Doctor Faustus can be seen as a man who brings tragedy and suffering crashing down on himself. Faustus is forced to suffer as a result of spiritual loss.Faustus 7. He is a man who is dissatisfied with the limitations imposed on him as a mortal and so he casts aside his study of Divinity in favour of the magic that he deludes himself will make him into a demi-God.wessexpublications. we find him at pains to conjure and ‘know the secrets of heaven and earth’. We also learn that he has dabbled in magic before becoming a Doctor of Divinity and that he ‘waked a worldly man’ hence in the interests of worldly pleasure. but we have to accept that this play is focused solely on one character that of Faustus. We do. pursue knowledge for the sake of truth. but does lead to spiritual salvation or to follow the route of eternal damnation for a short period of personal gratification. Return to the play and makes notes on your response to Faustus as you look back at his twenty-four years of self-gratification.Dr Faustus Characterisation . a man who will not accept things as they are and one who wallows in the delusion of self-importance. because of his ambitions and desires.co. but for power and super-human power.uk . • www.49 - . of course. Divinity teaches man that he must accept his mortality. however. have the low life characters in the comic scenes. the scholars at the university and the repeated appearances of Mephastophilis. but for Faustus this is not to be tolerated and so we see him calling up the Devil to satiate his appetite for power and glory. Faustus is.
However. Faustus’s desire to have a life of ‘all voluptuousness’. in hope to get his glorious soul’. there are two important aspects to Faustus’s character that do give him a more universal persona. does not deter Faustus and we see him as vain and foolish when he refuses to be afraid of the word damnation arguing ‘I confound hell in Elysium’. This however. These fit easily into the expectations of the Elizabethan age with their voyages of discovery and their growing awareness of continents beyond the boundaries of European shores. ‘for the vain pleasure of four and twenty years hath Faustus lost eternal joy and felicity’. Marlowe takes Faustus to the very edge of self-delusion and reveals him to be an extremely egoistic and boastful fool. Faustus is left to struggle with his uncontrolled appetite and a complete lack of humility.co. as he succinctly sums up himself.wessexpublications. This man.Dr Faustus Characterisation .Faustus • Insolence and pride characterise Faustus at this early point in the play as he calls Mephastophilis and then arrogantly asserts ‘How pliant is this Mephastophilis. He is even warned by the Devil himself about the pain of everlasting torment but he simply reprimands Mephastophilis for his cowardliness and continues on his road to destruction. On one level Marlowe paints a picture of man’s vulnerability and foolishness such that we as readers can empathise with his state. but this is not enough to enable him to turn from his path of selfdestruction. a delight in exploring the forbidden realms of magic and a conscious arrogance in the face of the divine order.’ Mephastophilis soon disabuses Faustus of his pretensions when he tells him that ‘when we hear one rack the name of God./Full of obedience and humility!/Such is the force of magic and my spells…. The second is the idea of sensuality. we see him as weak and rather shallow as he wallows in his hedonistic pursuit and revels in idle fantasies. one might question whether Marlowe really expects us to see this man as a representative of mankind./We fly. The first of these involve his goals of wealth. which he foresees as attainable through geographical and military expeditions. it seems. What we are finally presented with is a man who. Thus. exists outside of the common weal having exceptional intellectual attainments. an extraordinary flight of imagination and ambition./Abjure the scriptures and his Saviour Christ. In one of his moments of suffering he comes to admit that ‘The God thou serv’st is thine own appetite’ . This is again something that can be recognised as a human quality as played out by the low life characters in the comic .50 - • • • • www. Faustus it seems is easily satisfied with immediate gratification of his sensual desires and whenever he finds himself tormented by an uncomfortable conscience he is distracted by illusions conjured up by Mephastophilis that tear him away from any course that might lead to repentance. However. He is ultimately forced to accept that he had traded higher values for lower ones and the wages of his sin is to be eternal torment. In this sense he is singled out as an individual. honour and power.uk .
wessexpublications.uk . Thus. www. to explore beyond the limits. worst enemy and worst tempter and this is his tragedy that Faustus’s blindness is self-imposed and he wilfully destroys himself – he is both the victim and the executioner. but his behaviour is at times recognisable as fundamental to the common man. Hence we see a complicated mix in the presentation of Faustus.51 - . a man who on the one had seems to exist outside of the realms and mankind.co.Faustus scenes. an obsession that usually carries with it the seeds of its own destruction. It is possible to argue then that Faustus for all his individuality still represents some aspects of the everyday man. • It is also possible to recognise the human imagination in Faustus’s quest for super-human knowledge and power. He embodies to a certain extent human aspiration. to control and defy mortality. He is his own worst deceiver. but is also characterised by qualities and weaknesses that are exhibited by the most common of men. the desire to escape inhibitions.Dr Faustus Characterisation . it is possible to see Faustus’s plight as one that is universal to all mankind when faced with the possibility of choice. His predicament may be extraordinary.
ever revealed to Faustus who remains blind to this simple fact. Mephastophilis is. However. Mephastophilis also terrifies Faustus when he is drawn towards God. He openly states it was pride and insolence that threw Lucifer from the face of God and those who fell with him are. when Faustus is tempted to renounce evil. This is not. He flatters Faustus’s pride and feeds his arrogance and superficiality by providing illusions and sensual pleasures that delight Faustus and leave him temporarily satisfied. Now go back through the text and find examples for yourself where Mephastophilis employs his cunning. but his own pain and suffering.co. the warning to Faustus moves beyond www. however. we see Mephastophilis employing his cunning to attain Faustus’s soul for Lucifer.uk .wessexpublications.Dr Faustus Characterisation . In these lines we see Mephastophilis temporarily moving out of the role of tempter. TASK 40 Now look carefully at lines 65-83 and make notes on the effect of the presentation of Mephastophilis here. of course.Mephastophilis Mephastophilis Mephastophilis is an interesting character as although he appears to Faustus as a mere slave he is in fact an unusual and quite complex devil. we are always made aware of the fact that the Devil is ultimately powerless in the face of God.52 - . although as an audience. At various points in the play. ‘Unhappy spirits’. a rather unusual devil in that he momentarily displays the terrible loss that he suffers to Faustus as he describes not only Lucifer’s fall from grace.
Dr Faustus Characterisation .Mephastophilis mere description as Mephastophilis asserts ‘Thinks’t thou that I./which strike terror into my fainting soul’. www./And tasted the external joys of heaven. Thus. In those lines we have revealed to us the depths of spiritual pain and agonising suffering. This presentation of a Devil in this way was unique to Marlowe as never before had English drama revealed a Devil who urged his victim to save his soul./Am not tormented with ten thousand hells/In being deprive of everlasting bliss!’. What we have here is both a terrible warning to Faustus who we know wilfully rejects it.co. and also an articulation of the pain of spiritual loss and the empty wilderness in which such beings are left to wander.wessexpublications.uk . nor am I out of it’. Now look through the rest of the text and consider your own response to the way Marlowe presents Mephastophilis and his function in the play as a whole. Mephastophilis tells Faustus ‘Why this is hell. leave these frivolous demands. hell is defined as being all encompassing in that it is defined as everlasting alienation from God and so we hear Mephastophilis cry out ‘O Faustus. who saw the face of God.53 - .
making us aware that Marlowe is in fact mocking Faustus’s arrogance. whilst at the same time.wessexpublications.uk . We are presented with characters who are foolish and limited in their vision. These characters lust after pleasures and delights in the same way as Faustus and we are asked to laugh at them in an open way.54 - . Look back at the comic scenes and make notes on the way they act as a parody of Faustus’s situation. ****** www.co. but who are also able to conjure devils even if they do end up being abused by them.Dr Faustus Characterisation – The Comic Characters The Comic Characters Throughout the text the comic scenes serve to underline the falsity of Faustus’s belief that he is somehow special and more powerful than the rest of mankind.
Having said that it is possible to see emerging from the play certain key ideas and issues.wessexpublications. like the characters. You may find that different critical books focus on different thematic areas and one book may stress certain areas while another attaches more importance to others. THEMES AND ISSUES In identifying some central themes of the play it is important to remember that these. are open to interpretation. www.Dr Faustus Themes and Issues 8.uk .co. Here are some themes and issues that can be identified in the play.55 - . CHOICE LUST FOR POWER HUMAN FRAILTY REDEMPTION V DAMNATION PRIDE/EGOTISM/ARROGANCE/AMBITION LOSS Let’s have a closer look at these ideas and the importance they have in the play as a whole.
56 - . Thus. www.co. What Marlowe emphasises is the burden of human responsibility as Faustus is presented as his own worst enemy. Sc 5. He tempts himself well beyond anything that the devil can offer. it is made quite clear all the way through the play that Faustus always had a choice and he could have at any time repented of his sins.Dr Faustus Themes and Issues Choice This is probably the most important theme in the text as the play concerns itself with one man’s choice between good and evil. but Faustus’s flights of fancy go far beyond this as he dreams of the material power that will be open to him when he strikes his bargain with the devil. what this play makes quite clear is that this choice is not predetermined or influenced by outside forces. but his tragedy lies in the fact that he is always too blind to realise this. unconstrained choice. However. L 21).uk . The Evil Angel bids him ‘think of honour and of wealth’ (Act 1.wessexpublications. Now look back through the play and find examples of the way Marlowe presents the question of choice and comment on what it reveals of Faustus’s character each time he is tempted to repent. It is Faustus’s own.
www.co. Marlowe presents us with only one victim. of honour. that of Faustus himself. however. of omnipotence/Is promised to the studious artisan!’ Faustus’s aspiration then is to command ‘All things that move between quiet poles’ and to achieve this he believes he need only ‘try their brains to gain a deity’. We see him lingering over his books of magic contemplating his personal power over all the world. It is interesting to note.57 - .Dr Faustus Themes and Issues Lust for Power When we are first introduced to Faustus we are presented with someone who aspires to be more than a man. He deliberates on ‘what a world of profit and delight.wessexpublications./Of power. Hence we see Faustus’s predilection for power from the very outset and in consequence he chooses to ignore that such magic contains danger as well as pleasure. neither does he have ruthless political ambitions. that unlike other characters in English drama Faustus does not seek to attain destructive power. that of turning his face from God and everlasting grace in exchange for twenty-four paltry years of illusive power. Now look back through the play and consider the way Faustus employs his power and make notes on how Marlowe reinforces the idea that Faustus’s sin is that of a fallen angel.uk . Faustus’s dreams of power and wealth inflate his language and lead him to conjure Mephostophilis to satiate his obsessions. but only to fulfil his own personal pleasure at the expense of usurping God. who desires not to deprive others of their life or dignity.
When we first meet him in his study he dismisses the study of the law as fit only for a ‘mercenary drudge/Who aims at nothing but external trash’ and settles on the idea that his own study ‘divinity is best’. we see his frailty being exposed with each flash of conscience. Hence.uk . Look back through the play at the points at which we see Faustus being tormented with the choice he is constantly given and comment on how Marlowe makes this character extremely human and vulnerable in these scenes.58 - . However. and for a time he is. Faustus appears proud. However. arrogant.wessexpublications.Dr Faustus Themes and Issues Human Frailty Faustus is a man who resents most deeply the fact that for all his learning he is still bound by his mortality and an overwhelming sense of powerlessness.co. Marlowe never lets us lose sight of the fact that he is human. this is not enough to satisfy his soaring pride and so. however. as we know. as the play progresses we see more and more of Faustus’s vulnerability as he becomes stricken with fear as he contemplates the terrible bargain he has struck. As Valdes has asserted he can be powerful ‘If learned Faustus will be resolute’. www. he commits himself to dabbling in necromancy. self-deceived and puffed up with his own conceit.
www. is to attain not just wealth and honour.wessexpublications.Dr Faustus Themes and Issues Pride. When Mephastophilis disabuses him of this belief he goes on to castigate him for cowardliness as he speaks of the horrors of eternal torment. Faustus says ‘Learn thou of Faustus manly fortitude’. He embraces all of these sins throughout the text.co. In his first meeting with Mephastophilis he displays both arrogance and pride as he asserts ‘Did not my conjuring speeches raise thee? Speak!’. Faustus’s ambition. but he wishes to be ‘great emperor of the world’ and to spend his twenty-four years in ‘pleasure and in dalliance’. Arrogance and Ambition These adjectives really sum up the nature of Faustus’s fall. as we know. words that will of course come back to haunt him.uk . However. Look back through the text and make your own notes on the ways in which Marlowe reveals these qualities of Faustus’s character and what form and shape they take. once power is his. At the beginning of the play we are presented with a man who is weary of orthodox learning and who fearlessly seeks to understand all there is to know about the world through his study of necromancy. Faustus abandons any pursuit of worthy deeds in favour of gratifying his own personal pursuit of pleasure.59 - .
’ However.Dr Faustus Themes and Issues Loss One of the central issues in this play is the idea of loss and Marlowe couches this in the form of the medieval idea of a lost soul. In this last hour before the devil appears to harry away his soul Faustus is still haunted by the possibility of redemption which lies beyond his reach. and this be hell. now in hell? Nay. ambitions and learning are barren in the face of spiritual loss. that of the damnation of his immortal soul. ‘now lost … no hope of heaven’./And where hell is. At this point in the play Faustus is still selfassured and he arrogantly embraces the idea of hell insisting. Having renounced salvation Faustus is forced to pay the wages of sin and in the final reckoning both he and the audience are exposed to the reality of what he has lost.…/for where we are is hell. The early part of the play hints at the depths of vulgar triviality into which Faustus will ultimately descend. it ‘hath no limits. We are left with an image of a man who as Mephastophilis insists is. Hell then is seen as all encompassing. nor is it circumscribed. ‘How. as the play progresses we see Faustus growing desperate as he comes to realise that all his desires.60 - . Here then is the greatest loss mankind can suffer.uk . Look back through the play and make your own notes on the way Marlowe presents Faustus’s fall and the significance of the loss of the immortal Soul. must we ever be’. nor am I out of it’.co. hence Mephastophilis tells Faustus ‘Why this is hell. I’ll willingly be damned here. ****** www.wessexpublications. From the outset of the play it is made clear to us that all is hell that is not within heaven’s bourne.
the place where all souls went whilst they were waiting to go either to heaven or hell. Thus Marlowe makes Faustus’s tragedy of moral choice even more harrowing. There is no doubt that throughout this play it is the conflict between the forces of good and evil that provide the major dramatic tension. Thus by keeping the focus of the struggle locked within one man Marlowe presents to us the terrible burden of Faustus’s humanity which forms the root of his suffering. By creating the angels in this way and moving away from the conventional portrayal of angels at this period in history Marlowe keeps Faustus at the centre of the conflict. as Mephastophilis asserts.wessexpublications./All places shall be hell that is not heaven’. Thus we can see that Marlowe is not really creating them in the accepted form of the of the day but more as spiritual forms that articulate Faustus’s own thoughts. a place of fire and eternal suffering. REDEMPTION VERSUS DAMNATION – THE THEOLOGICAL CONTEXT OF THIS PLAY It is important to consider this play in the light of sixteenth century views of redemption and damnation. Thus the end result of this presentation is to underline the central issue of the play that it is Faustus’s own choice that ultimately leads him to eternal damnation.co.Dr Faustus Redemption versus Damnation 9. Marlowe however. In modern terms we might say they are his conscience and they are confined to merely attempting to sway Faustus’s will either to the side of good or to evil. nor does he show any awareness of them being a physical presence./And every creature shall be purified. Thus we see Marlowe’s vision moving beyond the idea of boundaries as is made quite clear to Faustus as he is told. Faustus never speaks to either of them directly. There is no doubt at the end of this play that .uk . a place where. In the sixteenth century angels and devils were not thought to be just images created to signify the vacillations of the human mind. one particular one being to influence by suggestion although not to limit the mind of man. ‘… when all the world dissolves. The Elizabethans believed in purgatory. ‘we are tortured and remain forever’. nor is circumscribed/In one self place’. Interestingly Marlowe does not direct Faustus’s attention towards the Good and Bad Angels as dramatic entities. Marlowe emphasises this conflict by personifying it in the form of the Good and Bad Angels who outline the alternatives that Faustus is faced with. Throughout the drama the conflict between salvation or damnation is held in precarious balance and it is not decided by external forces but the battle is fought in Faustus’s own mind.61 - Conflict between Good and Evil Faustus’s conscience Purgatory Moral choice www. This place was characterised by sorrow and lamenting but also by hope that soon they would fly up to heaven and spend eternity with their creator. They also believed in a hell of everlasting torment. takes this one step further when he has Mephastophilis insist that ‘Hell hath no limits. They were in fact thought of as real spiritual beings who had been created by God and who had been given certain powers and functions.
He may have been accused of being an atheist but as this play closes we are left in no doubt about the agony and torment that Faustus allowed himself to be drawn into when he made his bargain with the devil.Dr Faustus Redemption versus Damnation Faustus is forced to accept the unavoidable responsibility for his freely made choices.wessexpublications. there is no doubt at the end of the play that Marlowe does not mock the Christian theologies. ****** www.uk . who like all men. must face a universal order that far exceeds anything the mind of man can conjure. Thus it is possible to suggest that Marlowe moves beyond the conventional view of angels and to a certain extent the limitations of hell in his drama. in keeping with Christian theological teaching. As such Marlowe leaves us with a character who is neither hero nor villain but simply a man. However.co.62 - .
Evil and suffering Pride before the fall ****** 6 ‘Morality Plays and Elizabethan Drama’ S. arrogance. However.6 It is possible to apply this definition to Dr Faustus however. as has already been discussed Faustus is not simply an ordinary man. Faustus is a far more complex individual and as such his fate moves Marlowe’s play beyond the morality tradition.Q. It is possible to see why an Elizabethan audience might see Dr Faustus as just another morality play because it does.Dr Faustus Dr Faustus and the Morality Play 10. I (1950). wilfulness and hubris. where he is destined to die in sin unless he be saved by the intervention of divine grace and by repentance’.wessexpublications. DR FAUSTUS AND THE MORALITY PLAY Having read Dr Faustus we can see that Marlowe’s play concerns itself with the central theological concepts of evil and suffering and in this respect links can be made with the tradition of the morality play. one who has attained great learning and a man who does not seek to harm others only to gain power for his own pleasure. of course. Faustus is presented to us as an individual. These are the qualities that Mephastophilis admits that Lucifer and all the fallen angels are guilty of and in this sense it is possible to see Faustus’s fall more allied to the fall of angels than the everyman of the morality play. 67 www. He is a man who embodies the fundamental experience of mankind.63 - .. Hardin Craig has defined the morality play as ‘the presentation of man in the prelapsarian (before Adam’s fall into sin) situation. The tragedy of Faustus is that he had enormous potential but his pride and arrogance drove him to believe he could attain the impossible. deal with a man who is destined to die in sin unless he can allow himself to be saved by divine grace. being himself characterised by pride. as modern readers we must take into consideration the enormous depth and universality that is presented to us in the character of Faustus and so be aware how Marlowe’s play moves beyond the basic morality convention. the type that was generally presented in the morality plays.co.uk . He is certainly an extraordinary man but in many ways it is this that ultimately leads to his defeat.
Ask ‘how’ and ‘why’ Discuss the way language works Comment on hidden meanings Know the technical terms There are. That is to say how is the playwright using language and why has he chosen to use a particular image or symbol.64 - . what Faustus will never be. many others but the main thing to remember is that if you are going to use this language you must understand how and why the playwright has chosen to employ it. we hear Faustus say ‘O what a world of profit and delight. of course. www. Here are some ideas you might like to keep in mind when addressing this question.Dr Faustus How to write about language 11.co. Thus we can see Marlowe developing both plot and character and foreshadowing future events all within one line. of course. as the play opens. • In a later speech we hear Faustus assert ‘How am I glutted with conceit of this!’ This in itself is ironic because the phrase literally means drunk with the thought and to be drunk is to be removed from one’s normal rational thought. he will remain empty and dissatisfied. • An examiner is looking for more than just an identification of figurative language. It also implies the idea of being satiated which is. HOW TO WRITE ABOUT LANGUAGE This is an area of study that you may find challenging. of honour. of omnipotence. • Two key words to keep firmly in mind are how and why. For example. • It is always useful to remind yourself of the technical terms used to describe figurative language such as: • • • • • • • • • • • • alliteration assonance antithesis hyperbole metaphor simile oxymoron rhetoric personification imagery symbolism onomatopoeia.uk .wessexpublications./Of power. He/she is expecting a student to be able to discuss the way language is working./Is promised to the studious artisan!’ These words not only illustrate Faustus’s arrogance and obsession with wordly acclaim but they also convey a sense of his pride and over-reaching desire for earthly glory.
loneliness and spiritual void. In this way. Hence in these four lines we are given a picture of the agonies of hell so terrifying that only the most foolish of individuals could fail to be afraid. nor am I out of it. You may wish to look back through the text and attempt some close analysis of the language. The enormity of suffering is illustrated through the use of ‘ten thousand hells’ and is contrasted with the image of ‘everlasting bliss’.wessexpublications.Make notes on how language is being used. When you feel ready move on to the last section which offers various types of examination question. You may have noted Marlowe’s use of alliteration in ‘Think’st thou’ and ‘tormented with ten thousand hells’ which serves to heighten the tension and emphasises Mephastophilis’s sense of alienation.Dr Faustus How to write about language In scene three Mephastophilis cries out:‘Why this is hell.co. And tasted the eternal joys of heaven Am not tormented with ten thousand hells In being deprived of everlasting bliss!’ (77-81) TASK 41 What do you notice in these lines? . Think’st thou that I.65 - . ****** www. who saw the face of God. Marlowe makes Faustus’s fall more horrifying and his arrogance and pride more believable.uk .
How does Marlowe present Faustus’s ambition throughout the play? 11. What have you found interesting in the presentation of Mephastophilis in Marlowe’s play ‘Doctor Faustus’? 13. Can Faustus be defined by the terms hero or villain? Discuss. what do we learn about sixteenth century attitudes to hell and damnation? 2. How far do you feel Marlowe presents an orthodox view of eternal damnation through the character of Doctor Faustus? 4. What do you consider to be the tragedy of Doctor Faustus? 12. Discuss Marlowe’s use of irony in ‘Dr Faustus’. In what ways do you feel that Marlowe moves beyond the conventional morality play? In your answer you should consider the dramatic presentation of the angels and the play’s ending. 14.66 - . The loss of a soul is considered to be one of the central themes of this play. In the light of your knowledge of sixteenth century theological teaching how conventional do you find Marlowe’s presentation of Faustus. From your reading of the play and the presentation of the Character of Mephastophilis. 8. ****** www. 10. Faustus has been described as both the victim and the executioner. What does Marlowe’s presentation of Faustus in this last section of the play reveal about the tragedy of his twenty-four year bargain with the devil? 7. ESSAY QUESTIONS 1. How effectively do you feel Marlowe presents this loss to his audience? 15.uk . Remind yourself of Faustus’s last monologue lines 60-115 from ‘Ah Faustus to – ah Mephastophilis’. How far do you agree with this view of Marlowe’s presentation of him throughout the play? 6.wessexpublications. How effectively does Marlowe dramatise the conflict between salvation or damnation in his play ‘Dr Faustus’? In your answer you should consider sixteenth century views of hell and damnation. 5. 9. Dr Faustus is a man who can be seen to bring tragedy and suffering crashing down on himself because of his ambitions and desires – how far do you agree with this view of Faustus as presented in the play? 3. Look back at the comic scenes and comment on their significance in the play as a whole.co.Dr Faustus Essay questions 12.
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