Doctor Faustus

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  • Topic: Faust, Poetry, God
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  • Published : June 5, 2011
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Read the following passage from Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus. Discuss Marlowe’s use of language in this passage and how it contributes to the characterization of Faustus.

FAUSTUSThis word ‘damnation’ terrifies not him,
For he confounds hell in Elysium.
His ghost be with the old philosophers!
But leaving these vain trifles of men’s souls,
Tell me what is that Lucifer thy lord?

MEPHISTOPHELESArch-regent and commander of all spirits.

FAUSTUSWas not that Lucifer an angel once?

MEPHISTOPHELESYes, Faustus, and most dearly loved of God.

FAUSTUSHow comes it then that he is prince of devils?

MEPHISTOPHELESO, by aspiring pride and insolence,
For which God threw him from the face of heaven.
FAUSTUSAnd what are you that live with Lucifer?

MEPHISTOPHELESUnhappy spirits that fell with Lucifer,
Conspired against our God with Lucifer,
And are for ever damned with Lucifer.

FAUSTUSWhere are you damned?


FAUSTUSHow comes it then that thou art out of hell?

MEPHISTOPHELESWhy, this is hell, nor am I out of it.
Think’st thou that I, who saw the face of God
And tasted the eternal joys of heaven,
Am not tormented with ten thousand hells
In being deprived of everlasting bliss?
O Faustus, leave these frivolous demands,
Which strike a terror to my fainting soul!

Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus, Act 1, Scene 3, II.60-84; in John O’Connor (ed.) (2003), Doctor Faustus: the A text, Pearson Longman, p.21.

In this essay I will discuss Marlowes’ use of language in the previous short passage and attempt to decipher how it contributes to the characterization of Faustus. I shall be noting Iambic Pentameter, Repetition of words and Alliteration, as well as my own interpretation of how Marlowe wished Faustus to be received by the audience.

Faustus shows us his arrogance with his first sentence ‘This word ‘damnation’ terrifies not him’ (Line 60, Act 1, Scene 3),...
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