Hope and Fear in Dr. Faustus and Paradise Lost

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Hope and fear are two powerful emotions that affect the main characters in both Dr. Faustus and Paradise Lost. The characters in both stories all have their own hopes, but they are all tested, tempted, and eventually led into committing sin by the Devil, who uses his ability to spread fear to manipulate the characters’ actions. While Adam, Eve, and Dr. Faustus all eventually give in to their fear of Satan and lose grace with God, the fate of Adam and Eve differs than that of Dr. Faustus, because the hopes of Adam and Eve were different than that of Dr. Faustus.
In Dr. Faustus, the titular character is an extremely intelligent man who has worked his way up from a lower class family to become a highly respected scholar. However, it is revealed early on that Faustus has become bored with the conventional fields of study, and decides to learn necromancy in order to continue his quest for knowledge. After he summons the demon Mephastophilis, Faustus cannot bear the sight of the demon’s true form. “I charge thee to return and change thy shape; thou art too ugly to attend on me (Marlowe, p.508, lines 23-24). At the first sight of Mephastophilis, Faustus is afraid, and we see that he is actually a coward. Despite being a coward, Faustus is full of hubris, and assumes that he can exert his will over Mephastophilis. Faustus plans to use Mephastophilis’ powers for his own selfish gains, but must first sell his soul over to Satan. Once the pact between Faustus and Lucifer has been completed, the good and evil angels arrive to talk to Faustus. The good evil encourages him to repent and accept god back into his heart, while the evil angel tells him not to bother as he is already damned. Faustus believes himself to be unable to rep...

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...tion due to Satan, their ultimate fates differed significantly. Dr. Faustus was ultimately condemned to hell, while Adam and Eve were eventually forgiven. These different outcomes appear to be a result of the individuals’ faith in God and their willingness to repent. Faustus had several opportunities to repent and was constantly reminded that all he needed to do to be saved was to reject Satan. However, his faith in God and himself was lacking, and he paid the price as a result. Adam and Eve on the other hand felt a great deal of sadness when they sinned against God. When they were cast out of the Garden of Eden, they were truly repentant, and given the opportunity to create their own paradise, which is why God was willing to forgive them. In both cases it appears that it is the characters faith in God that ultimately determines whether they will be forgiven.
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