English Literature » Notes » Doctor Faustus: Analysis
Doctor Faustus

Doctor Faustus: Analysis

The play Doctor Faustus represents the conflict between good and evil inside everyone and how people can be influenced into doing things through religion and spiritual beliefs. This play illustrates the influences that people can have when met with promises of wealth, power and ultimate knowledge. Faustus is torn throughout the play on whether to repent and turn towards God or to sell his soul and indulge in earthly pleasures. Just like today, people can use religion and spiritual beliefs to motivate others into performing unspeakable acts with temptations of wealth and power.

The play shows how people can change their way of life at any point and still find their way into heaven in the afterlife. This play shows the inner conflict people have between both good and evil. People can be manipulated into doing things that they never thought of doing before with nothing more than a promise of eternal happiness. In the play, Faustus is constantly second guessing himself and can not seem to make his mind up. “Now, Faustus, must thou needs be damned; Canst thou not be saved! ” (Doctor Faustus II. i. -2) Here we see Faustus thinking that he is eternally damned and that he can not be saved by God. He is tempted with the idea that he can have ultimate knowledge, power, and riches if only he sell his body, flesh and soul to the devil. After mastering most of the trades of the world and knowing everything there is to know, Faustus’ thirst for knowledge brought him into the exploration of the dark art of magic. Throughout the play, the good angel is constantly reminding Faustus that all he has to do is repent and his soul will be saved.

At the beginning of Act II we see the good angel saying “Sweet Faustus, leave that execrable art. ” When Faustus asks about prayer and repentance, the good angel replies to him “O, they are means to bring thee unto heaven. ” However, Faustus dismisses this as something he doesn’t believe in. For some reason Faustus believes that there is neither heaven nor hell, even though he has a conversation with the devil and believes in obtaining magical powers and knowledge.

Faustus, although having numerous times to repent, concedes to the devil mainly because he is sidetracked with all the shows and tricks the devil has for him. He also believes he is damned and that his soul can not be saved. Directly after signing his soul away to the devil Faustus asks “Tell me, where is the place that men call hell? ” (Doctor Faustus II. i. 114) Here Faustus seems to be starting to believe in heaven and hell and wants to find out where he will end up in the afterlife.

However, despite Mephistophilis’ warnings about the torture and torment of hell, Faustus shrugs off the notion of a hell where people suffer for all eternity. When faced with the possibility of having great wealth; power; and knowledge, Faustus is unable to turn away from the dark side. This is indicative of most people today. Sometimes religion is used to show people what they can have if only they do a certain thing. Just like in the Taliban, people are convinced that by performing acts such as suicide bombings they will be granted all the wealth and power in the afterlife.

The only difference in this play from today’s world is that Faustus is promised all these things during his life just so long as he signs his soul away to the devil for all of eternity. This play “…does represent the Christian God as loving and merciful, and shows human beings to be free to shape their own spiritual destinies. ” (Open Learn) People are free to live their lives the way they want to and if they are focused on the evil side of life, this play shows how they can always change for the better in order to save their souls.

The play Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe illustrates the inner conflict people have between both good and evil. The play demonstrates a man that has a thirst for knowledge as well as a desire for self destruction. He wants to repent and be saved on a number of different occasions, but is blinded by the distractions of the devil. Such situations are found all over the world today. People are persuaded into performing unspeakable acts for the sole reason of obtaining wealth and power in the afterlife. Religion can be a strong motivator when it comes to things everyone wishes they had.

When people are convinced they can obtain wealth and power they can go to extreme measures to ensure they acquire these things. Religion and spirituality can influence people to act with kindness or cruelty depending on how it is interpreted and who is interpreting it.