Essay On Dr. Christopher Marlowe Faustus

Doctor Christopher Marlowe Faustus a great man of knowledge, sought to gain more knowledge by making a pact with the devil.

The story of Dr. Faustus' deception begins with his quest for knowledge. He was the epitome of the "Renaissance Man." The Renaissance man was a man who had achieved great knowledge and had come to what Maslow considered "self-actualization." Marlowe, in his studies of ambitious men, dealt with the Renaissance "overreacher," revealing his heroism and strength of will while simultaneously chronicling the loss of humanity occasioned by his unchecked abuse of power. This is the tragedy of Dr. Faustus.

Dr. Faustus, a great man of knowledge, sought to gain more knowledge by making a pact with the devil. He thought that the god of the underworld, a created being, could make all knowledge, even the forbidden knowledge, available to him. This was the first deception.

Faustus deceived himself into believing that there is no hell. This is his second deception. Faustus believed in the Elysian Fields, the place of abode for the virtuous mortals or those given immortality by divine favor. He thought that he would spend eternity debating and learning from the great philosophers of ancient times. Faustus even asks Mephistopheles "What is Hell?" The answer should have caused Faustus to shiver and turn to the God he had renounced.

"Why this is hell, nor am I out of it.

Thinks't thou that I, who saw the face of

God,and tasted the eternal joys of heaven,

am not tormented with ten thousand hells

in being deprived of everlasting bliss! O

Faustus, leave these frivolous demands,

which strike terror to my fainting soul."

Even through the warnings of Mephistopheles of the reality of hell, Faustus would not listen. He was deceived by his own lust for knowledge, fame and power. Faustus believed that he had greater strength, as a man, than had Mephistopheles.

"What, is great Mephistopheles so passionate

for being deprived of the joys of heaven?

Learn thou from Faustus manly fortitude,

and scorn those joys thou never shalt


Faustus continues his self-deception as he is in his study waiting for the return of Mephistopheles. He is in a debate with himself, the good and the bad angel. Faustus at one point says, "Abjure this magic, turn to God again. Ay, and Faustus will turn to God again." Then he says that God does not love him and "The god thou servest is thine own appetite." This is the only truth that Faust speaks in this work.

At midnight Mephistopheles returns. Lucifer had agreed to allow Mephistopheles to attend to Faustus for 24 years, so that he could destroy his soul. Faustus has to sign a contract in his own blood. Mephistopheles tells Faustus that when he signs the contract he will be "as great as Lucifer." Because of Faustus' deception, he did not see that if he were "as great as Lucifer," then Lucifer would not have the right to claim his soul.

As a part of the contract, Mephistopheles is to give Faustus his every desire. Here again is Faustus deceived. Because of sacrament or giving praise to God, Mephistopheles cannot give manifestation to his wishes.

When Faustus asks for a book to reveal the secrets of the universe, Faustus sees the beauty of God's creation and says that Mephistopheles has deceived him. Faustus says, "When I behold the heavens, I repent, and curse thee, wicked Mephistopheles, because thou has deprived me of those joys." As Faustus begins to repent of his magic and conjuring, the good and bad angel appear to him. The good angel tells Faustus that he may redeem his soul, yet the bad angel tells him it is too late. Faustus is deceived again. Faustus again begins to repent and call on God. "Ah Christ my Savior! seek to save distressed Faustus' soul." At this time Lucifer comes and commands that he not speak the name of God for it "does injure us." Faustus vows to never think of God, to pray. He also vows to burn the Scriptures, slay His ministers, and burn down His churches.

Mephistopheles gives Faustus his wish of traveling the world and learning the nature of life. Then, soon, the 24 years of the contract is up. Faustus prepares a banquet for his students. They celebrate and discuss the beauty of fair ladies. Faustus calls up Helen of Troy, for she is the fairest. After his students leave, an old man appears to Faustus to persuade him to repent. He does repent again, but at the threat of death, he turns his allegiance back to Lucifer. At eleven o'clock, the last hour of his life, Faustus tries to conceive every way of escaping hell. He commands the sun to stay still, so that the hour may not pass. He calls for the mountians to fall on him so that he may be spared the wrath of God. He says that he would lift his hands to God, yet he is bound, he would leap up to God, yet he is pulled down.

The hour has come for Lucifer to lay claim to Faustus' soul. In the end, because Faustus did not repent, he faced the reality of death, just as he was threatened by if he did repent. Faustus' greatest deception was the he allowed the fear of death and the loss of power to cause him to lose eternity. What Lucifer promised would happen to him if he repented is the way he died. He deceived himself in believing that there was no hell, that there was no punishment for his life. Yet he also deceived himself in believing that there was no mercy for him. God would pardon him, if he had not wavered. James 1:8 says, "A double minded man is unstable in all his ways." This last statement, I believe, sums up the life of Dr. Faustus, "For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me (Job 3:25)."

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