Discuss the Downfall of Dr. Faustus Or Analyze the Character of Dr. Faustus, Christopher Marlow



The great faculties of the mind and body enable our dear Dr. Faustus to rise to the status of one of the most learned scholars of his age. He is remarked for his excellent understanding of the matters pertaining to human life and other sciences. But the humble origin and birth of Faustus, coupled with the ever growing greed, keeps him steady in yearning for the most. Though he grew in knowledge and excelled all but he is to be punished for getting beyond the bounds set for human kind. His ambition leads him to the study as well as practice of magic. Faustus is in his study room talking to himself that he despite earning so much repute of a great doctor he is still a man: "Yet art thou still but Faustus, and a man". He wants to earn fame. Faustus gets interested in magic and wants to reach beyond the maximum for man:

"All things that move between the quiet poles

Shall be at my command: emperors and kings

Are but obeyed in their several provinces".

Good angel warns Faustus of the blasphemy of magic while the bad angel encourages him. But Faustus is almost lost in the dream of becoming a demigod through magic: he would use the spirits.

"I'll have them fly to India for gold,

Ransack the ocean for orient pearl,

And search all corners of the new-found world

For pleasant fruits and princely delicates". The desire for unbound power corrupts man, so is the case with Dr. Faustus. He is capable of great good to the human kind but he agrees to sell his sould to the devil for the triffles of this mortal life. Hubris for Faustus becomes his desire for absolute knowledge and power.The tragic aspect of his character highlighted by the words of the devil, Mephistophilis:

O, Faustus, leave these frivolous demands,

Which strike a terror to my fainting soul!

But poor Faustus is being led by his desire to be the most knowledgeable scholar of the world. He falls not for his weakness but for the great faculty of his mind which is rather too ripe for the understanding of magic. It could be an ordinary tale of greed and lust followed by damnation but the way Faustus is given hints and direct commands by the heavens makes his character tragic for he always unable to get off the evil desires he has had. His character depicts a continuous struggle between the forces of good and the forces of evil.

But our dear Faustus remains blind to the fact of life that God Almighty is the ultimate ruler and creator of this world and partying with the devil would earn him no good. He fails to see the pain of Mephistophilis:

Am not tormented with ten thousand hells

In being deprived of everlasting bliss?

Faustus given the chance to repent on several occasions but, unfortunately, he fails every time the forces of good encourage him for repentance. When the show of Helen is over, an old man approaches Faustus and asks him to repent for

"Then thou art banish'd from the sight of heaven:

No mortal can express the pains of hell."

The old man also tells Faustus of the possibility of redemption if he repents but the brave Faustus has lost all his senses and cannot repent despite the fact that he sometimes wishes to:

"I see an angel hover o'er thy head,

And, with a vial full of precious grace,

Offers to pour the same into thy soul:

Then call for mercy, and avoid despair".

But Faustus delays by saying: "Leave me a while to ponder on my sins". Faustus wishes to repent but feels despair. Mephistophilis threatens Faustus with death. And Faustus once again surrenders to Lucifer by his own free will and demands the company of Helen. He satisfies his troubling heart by dissolving his mental faculties into beastly acts of loving and kissing Helen.


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