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Knowledge and Power: Dr. Faustus

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A brilliant scholar, Dr. Faustus’ thirst for more knowledge and power ultimately drive him to an eternity of damnation. No longer satisfied with worldly knowledge, Faustus turns to Necromancy, or black magic, which offers him new otherworldly knowledge, and thus, power. His goes on to live a life that many only dream of, but his tragic end was one of nightmares. Although some may argue that for all his faults, he was not a truly evil man, and thus did not deserve an eternity of damnation. However, this essay will attempt to prove that, despite his pleas for forgiveness, and his claims that he was tricked by the devil, Dr. Faustus was a smart man who knew full well what he was doing when he signed the pact with the devil, and acted on complete free will, but also that he was given countless chances to gain salvation and forgiveness, but willfully chose to continue on his dark path. Dr. Faustus’ fate was determined not by trickery on the part of the devil, but rather by his own words and actions.

Dr. Faustus was given many chances to repent throughout his life, he was told by many that God’s forgiveness was still available to him, and that all he had to do was ask for it. However, it was not until he laid on his deathbed, and he knew he had no more time to live his life of debauchery, trickery, and black magic, that he finally sought salvation. As long as he was living, and had the chances to choose between a life of damnation, but power, or a life of salvation, but without magical power, he knowingly chose the damnation that went along with power time and time again. If perhaps just once he had made the right choice, it would have shown a true willingness to change. However, as long as he lived another day, he wanted it to ...

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...s of Dr. Faustus himself, marks, quite possibly, of his pride.

Faustus deserves absolute damnation not for his contract with the devil, but for his persistent resolve to proceed with the forbidden. Unable to deny that aspect of his himself that first became intrigued by black magic, Faustus cannot resolve conflicting longings at war within him. Faustus’s incapability to believe in God’s ability to forgive is in itself a hindrance to salvation. To dread damnation, to relinquish magic, even to blaspheme Mephistophilis and repent is inadequate. Real repentance and faith have positive outcomes; they are complemented by assurance in grace. To doubt his ability to be saved is the same as not trusting in God, and without such trust and conviction redemption is unattainable.

Works Cited

Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus, ed. Sylvan Barnet (New York: Signet, 1969)