Wagner In Dr Faustus Essay Research Paper

Wagner In Dr. Faustus Essay, Research Paper

In Christopher Marlowe’s play, Doctor Faustus, Wagner is the most loyal, loving, and

protective character in regards to protagonist, Faustus. His actions, which include everything

from his choric function to the comic relief he instills, influence the play immensely, emphasizing

how the bond between he and Faustus is unique and and irreplaceable one. Thus, leading to the

idea that Wagner should be recognized as the only character entitled to be Faustus’ heir.

It is easy to realize that Wagner is not happy as his role as a servant. “He’s sufficiently

educated to regard himself as a scholar and he’s eager to prove his prowess in logical dispute

(Instant Knowledge).” According to this, it almost seems as through he secretly wishes he could

have the power that his master possesses. Wagner isn’t too phased by this, however as he doesn’t

stop from being as faithful as possible he can be to Faustus. This is shown, along with his loyalty

and protectiveness, in Act I, Scene ii when two nosy scholars ask the whereabouts of Faustus.

Wagner refuses to tell them and even after taking insult upon insult from the two, he still tries as

best he can to shield his master from the scholars’ prying eyes. Eventually, Wagner gives into the

scholars and informs them that Faustus is dining with Valdes and Cornelius. He doesn’t do this

without first showing that he is more than a servant or a “sirrah”, though. He takes his revenge

by matching wits with the two and proving that he is just as intelligent as either of them.

Not only does this scene emphasize how much Wagner cares for Faustus, but it also

serves as some comic relief for the audience. “The functions of the comic scenes are to cover

passages of time, parallel and parody the main plot, and foreshadow events to come (Appleton).”

First, the coverage of time would definitely be shown when the play is being performed, as the

scene undoubtedly would takes quite awhile, especially Wagner’s speech. Secondly, the parallels

between Wagner and Faustus are clearly noticeable when Wagner’s boldness towards the two

scholars echoes that of Faustus’ indestructible pride. Wagner seems to make a habit of imitating

his master, as shown here. Finally, the foreshadowing can be thought of when Wagner tells the

scholars that Faustus is with Valdes and Cornelius and the two start to fear that Faustus has

started to practice magic. Their fright foreshadows that the magic Faustus is indeed studying will

lead to horrific things. Wagner is able to successfully complete all these tasks as well as reinforce

the comic tone of the scene.

In Act I, Scene iv, it seems as though Wagner is finally fed up with being a servant and he

now wants one of his own. His previous encounter with the scholars was not a pleasant one and

and as a result, he is looking for someone to humiliate in return. He gets a hold of Robin the

Clown and asks him, “Sirrah, wilt thou be my man and wait on me (1.4.15)?” As expected, Robin

denies the offer, causing Wagner to make two devils appear to terrorize Robin into agreeing to be

his servant. Not only does this lead Wagner to getting what he wants, a servant, but it also shows

how cleaver he is. He’s been practicing his master’s magic and has been successful with doing so.

“To Faustus, magic means a new way of living (Appleton)”, and because Wagner is the only one

around to watch Faustus conjure it, he is able to learn the ways of magic, therefore, he, too, has

new ambitions. All of which put Wagner into a higher category than a sirrah or servant.

Later, Wagner, who is very puzzled, appears on stage suspecting that his master is dying.

What troubles him most is not the idea that Faustus might be dying, but the fact that he isn’t

acting like he is. He doesn’t appear sickly. He is actually out drinking the night away and having

a great time with his companions from Wittenberg. It is in fact the last time that we see Wagner,

that this whole ordeal is cleared up. Faustus is indeed dying and is shown in Act V, Scene ii

making his will, in which he will leave Wagner all of his property. Faustus asks Wagner if he likes

the final copy and Wagner replies positively saying that, “Sir, so wondrous well/As in all my

humble duty I do yield/My life and lasting service for your love (5.2.21-24).” This conversation

between the two truly emphasizes the fact that Wagner is as loyal as can be to Faustus and while

many feel that Faustus is evil and greedy, he is shown here being extremely generous with leaving

his belongings to Wagner as a thank you for many years of good service. Wagner definitely helps

to bring out Faustus’ good side.

Aside from Wagner’s comic relief and loyalty (To Faustus) roles, he is also used as a

narrator. He often notes what is going on and helps advance the plot by narrating action that

happens both on and off stage. The most noticeable instance of this is his speech, mentioned

above, of Faustus nearing death. Without Wagner’s commentary, the audience would be unaware

and lost. G.K. Hunter is remarked as saying that each act handles a separate stage in Faustus’

career but the stages cannot move forward in any single and significant line of development

without help (Hunter 181). Thus, supporting the idea that without Wagner and his use as part of

the Chorus, there would be no adcancemet in the plot.

The general idea in regards to Wagner, is that he is foolish. This, however, is completely

untrue. He knows magic and conjures demons without going to hell and edges by the devil

without getting caught, unlike his master. With this in mind, it is correct when said that there is

no other character who is worthy enough of taking on the roles that Wagner does. No one else

would be proper in acting as the narrator or serving the comic relief of the play to the audience.

No other character shows the unconditional love to Faustus that Wager does. He is seen in both

the first and last act of the story and all the way from the introduction to the finale, he is there

moving the plot along in only a manner that he could. This is why he is the only one who

rightfully deserves to be Doctor Faustus’ heir.