Dr. Faustus is the Christian story that deals with these topics in the heart of religion’s understanding of the world. Firstly, there is this purpose of sin, which religion defines as acts contrary to the purpose of God. In making the treaty with Satan, Faustus commits the transgression to refuse God and he consciously and still eagerly renounces obedience to him, choosing instead to swear allegiance to Lucifer, the prince of devils. In the Christian theory, however, even the worst act will be forgiven through the redeeming force of Jesus, god’s son, who according to devotion and belief, died on the cross for humankind’s sins. So, however terrible Doctor Faustus’s pact with Satan may exist the expectation of salvation is always welcome him. All that he wants to do, theoretically, is take deity for mercy. Doctor Faustus is the tragic hero of Marlowe’s story. Doctor Faustus exhibits pride, regret without action and self-doubt at times. He also displays cowardice towards the devils such as Lucifer and Mephistopheles. He is a contradictory character who is capable of extraordinary eloquence and sinful desire with an intentional blindness and willingness to misuse powers that he gained at the great cost of his soul.
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If the time of Doctor Faustus is carefully analyzed, we can see that Doctor Faustus earns eternal damnation through a gradual process. The process of leading up to eternal damnation is actually quite step by step for him. Doctor Faustus commits several deadly sins and paves his way into hell. The seven deadly sins that parade around Doctor Faustus to tempt him are the personifications of pride, covetousness, wrath, envy, gluttony, sloth and lechery. When Doctor Faustus accepts these seven deadly sins for what they are, it represents his personal gradual process into eternal damnation. Their parade from beginning to end is a parade of his own mortal vices. Doctor Faustus’s excessive desire for everything is one of the early more noticeable signs of his association with the seven deadly sins. The definite extent of where Faustus can go beyond reasoning cannot be found in the mortal areas of art, medicine, law and theology. Art could not pique the interest of his mind. Medicine could not give him the power over life and death. Law is too servile in its limitations for justice. Theology is too confining for a normal person to figure out what is true or not.
Doctor Faustus went above normal mortal means to satisfy his avarice for knowledge and pride for being above the average human for having such a mind. It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that he craves everything (power, knowledge, etc.) and Mephistopheles can tell what his weakness is. Pride is shown to be a reoccurring deadly sin. Pride is what caused Lucifer to fall from heaven and turn into Satan, the god of hell and pride was the first sin to appear before Faustus. Pride causes actions to be carried out for one’s personal worth and through a self-regarding heart. That goes against the honesty that comes from virtue and truly striving to make oneself worthy of respect. Doctor Faustus doesn’t maintain virtue throughout the story, but rather acknowledges that selfish and impure pride in his heart.
Faustus does not realize how tempting the seven deadly sins are when he tries to take control of them, which in turn allow the seven deadly sins to control him throughout the story. When Faustus signs the contract in blood with Mephistopheles, he is tempted by the devil’s offer to grab crowns and riches, which satisfy the pride, envy and covetousness in his mind. After signing the contract in blood, he craves a wife, but is given courtesans instead to satisfy his craving for lust. The blood in this contract symbolizes the signing of his soul to Lucifer as well as his gradual approach to damnation. Faustus actively makes a decision to ignore the signs and warnings that he receives throughout the story. After signing the contract, the words, “Homo Fuge” appear on his arm. When he started to doubt himself, he fell back into his covetousness with the offerings of Mephistopheles.
The word Damnation doesn’t terrify Faustus. Marlowe switches Doctor Faustus from talking in the first person to him talking in the third person which suggests that Faustus is making an attempt to distance himself from the unavoidable damnation that he faces. To disassociate himself from it some manner, he speaks in the third person. God is a continual presence throughout the story and the readers are never allowed to that in heaven Gods knows. Marlowe shows how devastating it can be when man abuses power and uses it for personal gain. When Faustus takes advantage of that power, Marlow illustrates how important the gift of free will is, which is taken away from Faustus at the end when his twenty-four hours came to an end. Throughout the play, Faustus had a good angel on one shoulder and a bad angel on the other. Typically, the good angel is a consciousness advising a person not to do anything malicious or covetous. Through these angels he knew which presented the righteous path he should chose, and which presented the covetous path that would lead him to his desires. Faustus acknowledged that he was stupid to toss aside an afterlife in heaven for the temporary joy that he would receive of fulfilling his desires. By following the bad angel’s advice, he was led down the path where his free will was taken away. Although society is made to believe that good triumphs over evil, in this case that was not the norm. In the beginning to himself, he seemed like a good and devout person that had been on his search for knowledge and answers. Searching for knowledge then unknowingly to himself turned in a craving for knowledge and desire to use his intellect. Over time, Doctor Faustus was fulfilled with the seven deadly sins, but failed to realize that he was blameworthy for each of the seven deadly sins.
There was the elderly person that invited him over with the intent of saving him. After speaking to Faustus about how Faustus has rebelled against God, Faustus had yet to acknowledge that he had put the safety of his soul, his legacy and his existence on the line by displeasing God. After being open to what the old man was saying, Faustus had been confronted by Mephistopheles to remind him of the blood contract made with Satan. Faustus was blind and grief stricken that he did not notice that Mephistopheles responded out of fear. Fear drives people into taking quick action against an undesired result. Faustus had then accepted that his soul was to belong to Lucifer without taking any action to repent. Throughout the entire story, Faustus had only taken actions to show that he had considered repenting his sins but had never taken any action in doing so due to being tempted for the entirety of the twenty-four-hour period by the seven deadly sins, Mephistopheles and Lucifer. Doctor Faustus digs himself into a deeper hole although he is urged by others to atone and apologize for his choice to sell his soul to Lucifer and for committing sins. When Faustus and Helen leave, the old man is being tormented by devils that were sent by Faustus himself. The old man was not deserving of such an atrocity for showing Faustus that his soul was in danger. Because Faustus was caught up and stuck in his head, he does not take any action to repent. Faustus had committed on of his last sins to convince himself that he was past atonement from that point on.
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Doctor Faustus was not deserving of repentance at the end. He had various chances to show that he wanted to take back his initial actions of choosing Lucifer, the prince of devils, thus refusing God. The end of Faustus and his eternal damnation shows that humans that there is a moral decision to make on a daily basis. For what humans cannot achieve through mortal means should be left to having faith in God over the evils and the seven deadly sins the devil uses to seduce.
- Goldfarb, Russell, and Clare Goldfarb. “THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS IN ‘DOCTOR FAUSTUS.’” CLA Journal, vol. 13, no. 4, 1970, pp. 350–363. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/44324637.
- Greg, W. W. “The Damnation of Faustus.” The Modern Language Review, vol. 41, no. 2, 1946, pp. 97–107. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/3717028.
- Lemon, Rebecca. “Scholarly Addiction: Doctor Faustus and the Drama of Devotion.” Renaissance Quarterly, vol. 69, no. 3, Fall 2016, pp. 865–898. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1086/689036.
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