Marlowe's Doctor Faustus

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Marlowe's Doctor Faustus

Marlowe's representation of Doctor Faustus changes direction through

the play. We follow the change in ambition and greed of a human being

who seeks pleasure so much that he sells his soul to the devil for a

number of years. Does the power that Faustus obtains corrupt him or is

he merely dissatisfied with the power he has and is greedy for more.

At the start of the play, Marlowe uses powerful language when

referring to Faustus' search for knowledge. "O, What a world of profit

and delight, of power, of honour, of omnipotence, is promis'd to the

studious artisan". This is what Faustus wishes to obtain, the

forbidden knowledge that he feels he can achieve, however it seems

strange that Faustus should want to learn more and to be taught and

able to understand this forbidden knowledge as he previously bids a

farewell to thinking "Divinity, adieu!". Faustus is striving for a

great power and his intentions are on a grand scale. "I'll have them

read me strange philosophy and tell the secrets of all foreign kings;

I'll have them wall all Germany with brass and make swift Rhine circle

fair Wittenberg". This is what Faustus thinks he will have the ability

to do, but later in his same speech we see signs of his arrogance and

the way in which he is governed by greed "I'll levy soldiers with the

coin they bring and chase the Prince of Parma from out land and reign

sole king of all our provinces". With such ambition and hunger for

success, Faustus carries out the sealing of his contract with Lucifer.

Faustus is elevated with anticipation of the power he will have "O,

this cheers my soul! Come, show me some demonstrations magical, that I

may conjure in some lusty grove and have these joys in...

... middle of paper ...

...y greedy. He wanted

everything and more. What he really wanted, he would never be able to

obtain and he has lost sight of all else. He is unable to distinguish

between what is important and what is petty. Faustus has also become

unaware of the need to repent. During the first part of the play, he

is tempted to repent and break from his contract but then he becomes

deluded and tempted by the great power he possibly could have. If he

had repented, perhaps he would be closer to the knowledge he seeks

than he is in his alliance with Lucifer.

Thus, it seems that Faustus' greed is what corrupts him and not merely

the power. He has the power to do great things but he has no interest

in his aspirations anymore. He is just greedy to obtain the forbidden

knowledge which he will, ironically, never be able to learn due to

turning away from the one who holds it all.
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