Marlowe's Doctor Faustus Essays

Marlowe's Doctor Faustus Essays

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Marlowe's Doctor Faustus

In Faustus' first speech in Act 1, my main feeling towards Faustus was
not sympathy but irritation. I became aware of Faustus' arrogance and
his impatience with ordinary learning, particularly with his referral
to law as 'a petty case of paltry legacies.' He also constantly refers
to himself as 'Faustus', reminding himself of his own importance.
Other aspects of Faustus' character are revealed in the descriptive
language he uses. He is 'ravish'd' by magic, and is 'glutted' with
learning. These adjectives show a very sensual personality.

The good and bad angels represent the two different sides of his
personality, one side urging him to sell his soul for magic and the
other urging him to remember that heaven is 'his chiefest bliss'.

Faustus seems to be a very worldly character in his first speech but
when he speaks of what he will do with his 'heavenly' powers, they are
very small goals. Faustus shows his true colours as a student when he
tells Cornelius and Valdes that he will 'fill the public schools with
silk' and make 'the Rhine circle fair Wittenberg'. These aims show his
loyalty to his home and to his students. In the first scene, the main
thing I notice about Faustus is his naïvety. He does not realise the
horrors of hell, partly through his determination not to believe in
it, and partly through Cornelius' and Valdes' influence, as they give
him the magic books with no warning as to their power.

After Faustus summons Mephostophilis, he seems to quite flippant
towards holy things, and even orders the devils to change. He tells
Mephostophilis to 'return and old Franciscan friar, that holy shape
becomes a devil best'. The first thing Faustus does when he summons
Mephost...


... middle of paper ...


...s ironic as she is conjured, and a devil. Faustus' pleading
becomes increasingly desperate and he says he would give up everything
for being saved. Even 'that I had never seen Wittenberg, never read
book'. His very last offer to Lucifer is 'I will burn my books!' This
shows his desperation as this would be the ultimate sacrifice for
Faustus, the ultimate scholar.

Throughout the play, my sympathy for Faustus varies in intensity. I
feel most sympathy in the final scene, when he wishes to repent, but
cannot. However, it is difficult to conjure up much sympathy for
Faustus as he brought his fate on himself. He had opportunities to
redeem himself and rejected them time and time again. He cannot be
classed as a tragic hero as he has too many faults. Faustus is
arrogant, vain, materialistic, and naïve. All these characteristics
eventually lead to his downfall.

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