Doctor Faustus Summary
Doctor Faustus, a well-respected german scholar, grows dissatisfied with the bounds of traditional sorts of knowledge—logic, medicine, law, and religion—and decides that he wants to find out to practice magic. His friends Valdes and Cornelius instruct him within the black arts, and he begins his new career as a magician by summoning up Mephastophilis, a devil. Despite Mephastophilis’s warnings about the horrors of hell, Faustus tells the devil to return to his master, Lucifer, with a suggestion of Faustus’s soul in exchange for 24 years of service from Mephastophilis. Meanwhile, Wagner, Faustus’s servant, has picked up some magical power and uses it to press a clown named Robin into his service.
Mephastophilis returns to Faustus with word that Lucifer has accepted Faustus’s offer. Faustus experiences some misgivings and wonders if he should repent and save his soul; within the end, though, he agrees to the deal, signing it together with his blood. As soon as he does so, the words “Homo fuge,” Latin for “O man, fly,” appear branded on his arm. Faustus again has second thoughts, but Mephastophilis bestows rich gifts on him and provides him a book of spells to find out. Later, Mephastophilis answers all of his questions on the character of the planet, refusing to answer only Faustus asks him who made the universe. This refusal prompts yet one more bout of misgivings in Faustus, but Mephastophilis and Lucifer usher in personifications of the Seven Deadly Sins to prance about ahead of Faustus, and he’s impressed enough to quiet his doubts.
Armed together with his new powers and attended by Mephastophilis, Faustus begins to travel. He goes to the pope’s court in Rome, makes himself invisible, and plays a series of tricks. He disrupts the pope’s banquet by stealing food and boxing the pope’s ears. Following this incident, he travels through the courts of Europe, together with his fame spreading as he goes. Eventually, he’s invited to the court of the German emperor, Charles V (the enemy of the pope), who asks Faustus to permit him to ascertain Alexander the good, the famed fourth-century b.c. Macedonian king and conqueror. Faustus conjures up a picture of Alexander, and Charles is suitably impressed. A knight scoffs at Faustus’s powers, and Faustus chastises him by making antlers sprout from his head. Furious, the knight vows revenge.
Meanwhile, Robin, Wagner’s clown, has picked up some magic on his own, and together with his fellow stablehand, Rafe, he undergoes a variety of comic misadventures. At one point, he manages to summon Mephastophilis, who threatens to show Robin and Rafe into animals (or maybe even does transform them; the text isn’t clear) to punish them for his or her foolishness.
Faustus then goes on together with his travels, playing a trick on a horse-courser along the way. Faustus sells him a horse that turns into a heap of straw when ridden into a river. Eventually, Faustus is invited to the court of the Duke of Vanholt, where he performs various feats. The horse-courser shows up there, along with side Robin, a person named Dick (Rafe within the A text), and various others who have fallen victim to Faustus’s trickery. But Faustus casts spells on them and sends them on their way, to the amusement of the duke and duchess.
As the twenty-four years of his effect Lucifer come to an in-depth, Faustus begins to dread his impending death. He has Mephastophilis call up Helen of Troy, the famous beauty from the traditional world and uses her presence to impress a gaggle of students. An old man urges Faustus to repent, but Faustus drives him away. Faustus summons Helen again and exclaims rapturously about her beauty. But time is growing short. Faustus tells the students about his pact, and that they are horror-stricken and resolve to wish for him. On the ultimate night before the expiration of the twenty-four years, Faustus is overcome by fear and remorse. He begs for mercy, but it’s too late. in the dark, a number of devils appear and carry his soul off to hell. within the morning, the students find Faustus’s limbs and choose to carry a funeral for him.
Doctor Faustus Analysis
Doctor Faustus, a scholar famed the planet over, thinks that he has reached the bounds of data in philosophy, medicine, law, and theology, and he hungers for power. Magic lures him with the offer of data without work or study, and Faustus sells his soul to the devil reciprocally for twenty-four years during which he will have everything he wants.
Faustus begins with grand plans: to free his country, to assist the poor, and to form himself master of the planet. within the scenes that follow, the reader never sees him even attempt to reach these goals.
Instead, he performs parlor tricks for the Emperor and plays practical jokes on the Pope. When he asks his servant devil Mephostopilis, the secrets of the universe, he gets what he calls “freshman” answers. Only at the top of the play does Faustus realize that he has tried to urge something for nothing: knowledge without work and power without responsibility.
Marlowe’s gorgeous language tends to cover the meanness of his character’s desires. Time and again, Faustus begins to repent, only to be distracted by spectacle or frightened by threats.
Marlowe’s play first staged in 1592 or 1593, presents a figure who may be a mirror: Each age sees Faustus in its terms. Readers during the Romantic period, often more curious about the struggle than the goal, saw Faustus as an “overreacher,” someone who pushes the limit of what humans can do. The fact that he was doomed to failure only made him more interesting.
Contemporary readers are more likely to ascertain Faustus as an example of “burn-out,” a person whose life has become stale because he has no interests beyond himself.
Brooke, Nicholas. “The Moral Tragedy of Dr. Faustus.” Cambridge Journal 5 (1952): 663-687. Focuses on the moral choices presented to Faustus. Attempts to include the comic subplots during a unified reading of Renaissance dualism, which might render the play an aesthetic whole and dramatic success.
Kirschbaum, Leo. “Marlowe’s Faustus: A Reconsideration.” Review of English Studies 19 (1943): 225-241. Examines the language of the foremost memorable poetry of the play, the praise of Helen of Troy, to get when the audience needs to be seduced by the language and when it must judge and resist beautiful verse.
Kocher, Paul H. “Marlowe’s Atheist Lecture.” Journal of English and Germanic Philology 39 (1940): 98-106. Reprints the blasphemous comments allegedly made by Marlowe, attested by one Richard Baines before the council in 1593. Judging the veracity of those comments and, if they’re truly Marlowe’s, how typical they’re of his beliefs helps readers decide their sympathies in Doctor Faustus.
Levin, Harry. The Overreacher: A Study of Marlowe. 1952. Boston: Beacon Press, 1964. Examines the sources of the Faust legend and places them within the context of the autumn of Lucifer from heaven. Examines the comic scenes to seek out in them a burlesque of the most plot.
Mizener, Arthur. “The Tragedy of Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus.” College English 5 (1943): 70-75. Treats the ambivalence toward knowledge within the Renaissance evidenced in Faustus’s tragic progress within the play. Examines reason versus faith and allies’ necromancy with the dark side of the latter.
Faustus’s study (FOWS-this). Lodgings at Germany’s University of Wittenberg of Dr. Faustus, a learned scholar, and theologian who seeks boundless knowledge. Most of the play takes place here. Characters enter and exit the study frequently, and on many occasions, other characters converse in Faustus’s rooms while he’s away.
The study is faintly described—it contains books of varied sorts, and presumably the paraphernalia of scholarly and clerical work. it’s an outsized area, sufficient to entertain as many as nine characters at a time. the very fact that the precise university in Wittenberg could also be correlated to the very fact that it had been during this city that Luther posted his ninety-five theses, heralding the Protestant separation.
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