Analysis of Closing Speech in Dr. Faustus

Analysis of Closing Speech in Dr. Faustus

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Analysis of Dr. Faustus' Closing Speech

Doctor Faustus’ closing speech is unquestionably the most emotional scene in Dr. Faustus. His mind moves from idea to idea in desperation. It highlights the many times that Faustus could have repented, but did not. Yet he shows remorse, calling upon the Christian view that all who repent will be saved, however, this does not hold true for Faustus, indicating that Marlowe is not writing this scene from a Christian point of view.

Faustus’ mind is fraught with despair in his final, closing speech. It jumps frantically from thought to thought: one moment he is begging time to stop, or slow down, the next second, he is pleading to Christ for mercy and salvation. He asks to be hidden, the next instant he is asking for his punishment in hell to last ‘A hundred thousand [years], and at last be saved’ (1.13.95). These various attempts to escape his imminent doom ultimately lead to him to realise that the situation is entirely his fault, just before midnight, he finally realises to ‘curse [him] self’ (1.13.106). This extremely passionate remorse leads to a recurring theme in the play, namely, the reasons behind him not repenting at earlier stages.

Faustus’ arrogance, perhaps, is the chief reason behind the rejection of penitence. He deceives himself into believing either hell is not so bad, or that it does not exist at all. Perhaps he is afraid of Mephastophilis tearing his body apart. Even close to the end, in the penultimate scene, Faustus is seen, eager to ‘confirm/ [His] former vow’ (1.12.62-63). This suggests that Faustus’ delusion continues until his time is up, perhaps he has served the devil for so long he has lost any thought of breaking free of his pact.
In the speech, Faustus turns to Christ, asking that the Christian doctrine that repentance can be accepted at any time in one’s life be granted to save him. Significantly, he is not rescued. This shows that this play is not written from an entirely Christian perspective, as Faustus would have been saved. However, it could be argued that something within Faustus ‘pulls [him] down’ (1.13.71) from leaping ‘up to [his] God’ (1.13.71), and therefore keeping the Christian principle intact.

The pathetic actions that Faustus performs when he gets ultimate power seem to indicate that Faustus has wasted his soul.

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However, in his last soliloquy, he realises that it was all in vain. Only at this point does he attempt, seriously, to repent, however, his time, dramatized by the clock strikes, is up. Doctor Faustus finishes his speech with the saying, ‘I’ll burn my books’ (1.13.125), symbolising the Renaissance, as it was very typical of sorcerers, when relinquishing their art to do so.

Works Cited:

Marlowe, Christopher. "The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus." The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 6th ed. Eds. M.H. Abrams et. al. New York: W.W. Norton and Co, 1993.
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