World Literature Honors
April 9, 2012
Analyzing the Tragedy of Dr. Faustus
The struggle between good and evil is arguably the most significant theme in the play. This struggle is most evident within the main character Faustus. He is torn and undecided about whether or not he should repent for sinning and return to God or follow through with the contract he signed with Lucifer. His internal struggle lasts almost the entire play, as part of him wants to be good serving God while the other part seeks the power Mephastophilis promises. Metaphastophilis himself has mixed motives and symbolizes this theme. On one hand he pursues Faustus’ soul, intending to carry it to hell while on the other he persuades Faustus to reject the contract because of the horrors he would encounter in hell. This theme, mostly existing within Faustus, provides interest and intrigue as to wonder if whether or not the highly intellectual doctor will finally come to his senses and repent. The play would be significantly less enjoyable if it followed a less interesting man, a man who morally feels no regret in giving up any chance of a positive afterlife for temporary powers. This indecision within Faustus also provides the central drama of the play. The struggle between good and evil is best symbolized by the Good and Evil Angels. Each angel struggled to pull Faustus towards its side as Faustus himself struggled between his human reason or logic and his lustful desire for power. Good and evil battle once more when Faustus encounters the Old Man in the final scene. The Old Man is another symbol which replaces the Good and Evil Angels from earlier scenes. He persuades Faustus to repent and renounce his powers while it’s not too late.
Marlowe uses mythological allusions in a rather clever way in this particular work. They provide the audience with a more interesting play and extends the limits of the play’s subject if even slightly. One of the most significant...