The Tragic Downfall of Faustus in Tragical Histor of Doctor Faustus

Good Essays
The Tragic Downfall of Faustus in Tragical Histor of Doctor Faustus

Christopher Marlowe’s Tragical History of Doctor Faustus is about a man who seeks

power that comes from knowledge beyond the human realm. Throughout the story, the

seven deadly sins are shown and have an impact on Dr. Faustus during his search for

ultimate power. However, it is one of these vices of the seven deadly sins that plays a

particular and key role in his demise. Pride, creates Dr. Faustus’ inability to repent,

therefore ultimately resulting in his death. “His fall is caused by the same pride and

ambition that caused the fall of angels in heaven, and of humanity in the Garden of Eden”

(Abrams 768). Faustus’ fall is foreshadowed during his first encounter with a devil,

inquiring of the reason for Lucifer’s exile in hell.

FAUSTUS. How comes it then that he is prince of devils?

MEPHASTOPHILIS. O, by aspiring pride and insolence

For which God threw him from the face of Heaven. (scene 3, 66-68)

An eternity in hell becomes Dr. Faustus’ fate, a fate determined by his own

irrational decisions. Although he is a well-educated scholar, traits of arrogance,

selfishness, and pride hinder his judgment. Dr. Faustus’ troubles begin when he craves

power and knowledge beyond human capacity. Bored with his great knowledge, he wishes

to find another subject to study to pacify himself and achieve happiness.

FAUSTUS. Then read no more, thou hast attained the end;

A greater subject fitteth Faustus’ wit. (scene , 10-11)

By making a deal with the devil, Faustus trades his soul for satisfaction, and a greater field

of study. He is selfish--wanting knowledge, power, and fun without having to work or

take responsibility for it. As r...

... middle of paper ...

... of the play as Dr. Faustus is sent to hell, there are many ironic details

evident. The main one is that despite his great knowledge and power, Faustus makes the

most unwise decision. Repenting to Mephastophilis instead of God, he gives up everything

for nothing in return. In all his years with his new knowledge and power. He did nothing

of significance, he merely played tricks and showed off his new talents. Marlowe’s play is

full of irony depicting the downfall of man riddled with sin. The underlying theme however

is that, like Icarus and Lucifer, Dr. Faustus allows his pride, a key to most tragedies, to

become excessive and ultimately it is his downfall.

Works Cited

Marlowe, Christopher. “The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus.” The Norton Anthology

of English Literature. Ed. M.H. Abrams. New York: W.W. Norton & Company,

Inc., 1993. 768-801.