Dr. Faustus as a tragedy by Marlow



The allegiance to devil wins him the assistance of Mephistophilis as his personal servant. This gives him greater influence and powers over the world. He can roam about in the world. He can go even to the Pop and make fun of the clergy in invisible form. He has the pleasure of visiting different ages of the world. He even meets Helen for whom the war of Troy was fought. He asks her:

"Was this the face that launch'd a thousand ships"

He is no more than a heathen while praising Helen:

"Here will I dwell, for heaven is in these lips,

And all is dross that is not Helena."

He declares her even more "lovely than the monarch of the sky". The episode shows how much he is enjoying his life of earthly bliss in exchange of ever abiding torments of hell.


The reality of death and the pangs of after life, if hell, are highlighted with the apparent chance of Faustus being doomed for it. The blissful bloom does come to an end with the completion of twenty four years of the term of worldly paradise set up for Faustus. Now, Faustus begins to worry. He wishes to run away from the devil but finds none. He wishes to repent but Satan won't let him to. He wants an intervention from the Holy and the Divine. But he remembers how the wound created on his arm for writing the seal with devil was magically healed with the words "Homo, fuge!" meaning "Flee, man". But he had then ignored the heavenly intervention to stop this deal with the devil. He begins to feel his fault and curses for having chosen the wrong path.

Repentance is of pivotal importance in Christian religion. Christ was crucified for saving the mankind of its burden of sins. He is also known as a Messiah. The Satanic deeds committed by Faustus are still forgivable subject to repentance. And Faustus thinks of repenting and breaking the allegiance to devil under the influence of the angels but later fails to act upon it. He remains loyal to the satanic powers and adamantine hell. In the end of the play he seeks intervention by Christ for his redemption but then it was rather too late. The devil has just come to take away his soul which it does. The repentance of Faustus does not bring him any relief and it ends the play on a tragic note. The pride of the knowledgeable Dr. Faustus earns him nothing but suffering and woe in "everlasting world" of hell.


Pity and fear as well as the following catharsis are the result of a tragedy. Though Faustus is nothing but a tale of sin and evil, yet the acute desire of redemption and dying without it entitles him a sort of tragic fall. Such a tragic end would not have been possible if Christian redemption had been made available to him. He remaining devoid of redemption while he strives for it hard in the last moments of his life creates a sense of pity in our hearts for him. We are afraid for our own sins because "we deceive ourselves" when "we say we have no sin". In-fact, we are all sinners and seek redemption in one way or the other. Therefore, seeing a man fall, though greatly sinned, helps us purge our emotions.

On classical standards, "Dr Faustus" may not be a perfect tragedy yet the scope and impact of the play is no less than any great tragedy of any time. It is the tale of the fall of one man or perhaps of man in general. There are strong symbolic significances in Faustus's surrendering to devil. The man of the materialistic and Renaissance has surrendered himself to the extreme of lust and greed that nothing may stop him from his evil deeds but death. Therefore, the fall of Faustus is also an end to the luxurious life of greed and influence which is mere temporary felicity. We, as men and women, don't wish to stop our lives of sinful deeds unless stopped by death. We may also relate the tragedy of Faustus is due to the eternal war between the forces of good and evil and humans merely become their weapons and puppets.



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