Dr. Faustus Essay, Research Paper
Christopher Marlowe?s Doctor Faustus is a psychological study of inner struggle. One of the most prominent themes in Doctor Faustus is the conflict between good and evil within the human soul. Marlowe?s play set the precedent for religious works concerned with morals and suffering. The play is centered on the title character, Doctor Faustus who is painted by Marlowe as an ambivalent character who is easily led down a path of agnostic tendencies.
Doctor Faustus is a divided figured. His capricious character causes heightened duality and inconsistent conduct. He is constantly wavering between good and evil, right and wrong, repentance and eternal damnation. Faustus? faith in God is reawakened when confronted by the sporadic suggestions of returning to the faith and renouncing the devil, in order to save his soul. His miserable aspiration for salvation: ?My heart is hardened I cannot repent? (II, ii, 18) is quickly devalued by his whimsical proclamation: ?I am resolved I shall not repent!? (II, ii, 30) We are left wondering which declaration is sincere? Faustus is ?wishy-washy? in all that he does throughout the entire play. It is rare that the words he speaks match the actions he composes. His ambivalent personality causes him to appeal to both Christ and Lucifer:
? O my Christ!
? O spare me my Lucifer!
You stars that reigned at my nativity
Now draw up Faustus like a foggy mist (V, ii, 154-187)
Doctor Faustus? actions concerning visits from the good and bad angels further illustrate his variance in opinion. The good and bad angels represent the internal moral struggle Faustus is battling. They are personified emotions warring with each other; their existence in the play externalize Faustus? inner struggle between what is right and what is wrong. Faustus is inconsistent, and fickle on numerous occasions; one minute he is begging for salvation and the next he does not want it. In Act II, ii we find Faustus frantic, feeling hopeless:
Swords, poison, halters and envenomed steel
Are laid before me to dispatch myself
And long ere this I should have done the deed
Had not sweet pleasure conquered deep despair (II, ii, 20-3)
He is desperate and contemplates suicide as a result of his predicament. Contrasting his feelings of self -inflicted death, we see a completely different Doctor Faustus only moments later; when he is ?resolved? and wishes to return to normal.
The aforementioned inconsistent behavior displayed by Doctor Faustus coincides with his tendency to be a follower and the turning of his back on his religion. Doctor Faustus? quest is initiated by the expectations set by society to become the ideal Renaissance man, great, curious and knowledgeable. In attempts to satiate his appetite he is led to the power of the dark-side, through black magic and evil deeds against innocent and often devout men. Although prayer and repentance are the paths to heaven, sin and mortal temptations are very hard temptations to pass over, especially when there is an extremely influential presence. Continuously we see Doctor Faustus being easily influenced. Although he has moments of contrition, giving into the good angel and the old man, he quickly shoves aside thoughts of God and turns to evil as soon as Mephostophilis makes an appearance. Doctor Faustus is a disciple of Mephostopilis, easily led by his dominion. When he realizes that Mephostophilis has led a life of evil serving Lucifer, he is overcome with confidences and security:
And hath not he that built the walls of Thebes
With ravishing sound of his melodious harp
Made music with my Mephostophilis?
Why should I then or barely despair?
I am resolved, Faustus shall not repent! (II, ii, 27-30)
Doctor Faustus realizes that being a follower is not entirely bad, looking to Mephostophilis as evidence. Mephostophilis influences Doctor Faustus in ways that do not leave him time to consider the consequences of his actions. Faustus? rootless faith results from the servant/ follower relationship he and Mephostophilis posses.
Christopher Marlowe?s Doctor Faustus shows the reader that everything in the mortal world is a double-edged sword. In his never-ending quest for knowledge and greatness, Faustus exemplifies how even scholarly life can have evil undertones when ambition is used for unholy purposes. Doctor Faustus? rootless faith coupled with his whimsical identity completes and guarantees his damnation. Faustus sells his soul for what he believes to be limitless power, what price would you pay?