Essay Questions for Doctor Faustus
First complete draft, following MLA format, due Tuesday, Nov. 22. Be sure to have citations and a work cited.
Don’t forget that with poetry (some of Faustus is poetry, some is prose), you put act, scene, and line numbers in citations (4.3.19-22). You also put slash marks between lines. For example, here is a section from Act 4, scene 4, lines 100-101 of the play: Faustus. What’s here, an ambush to betray my life? Then Faustus, try thy skill. Base peasants, stand!
If I quoted this in my paper I might put it like this: When soldiers approach Faustus, he says, “What’s here, an ambush to betray my life? / Then Faustus, try thy skill” (4.4.100-101).
1. Can Faustus be both a hero and a villain? Guilty and good? Is there evidence in the text to support these views?
2. Discuss the theme of forbidden knowledge. What type of knowledge does Faustus want and why?
3. Discuss the themes of free will and predestination in the play. Is Faustus predestined to damnation? Why or why not? Is there a “point of no return” in Faustus’s progress toward damnation?
4. The quest for forbidden knowledge usually leads the hero to corruption and a fall. How does Faustus’s quest degrade him? How does he use his new power and knowledge?
5. What is the purpose of the sequence in the Pope’s palace? How is the Pope a double for Faustus?
6. Doctor Faustus is considered a tragedy. In Poetics, Aristotle proposes the classical definition of tragedy: a drama with a hero. . . . According to his definition, would you consider Faustus a tragic hero? Does he have heroic qualities? What is his tragic flaw? Do you pity Faustus? Does his downfall evoke terror?
7. According to Dr. Arnold Schmidt of Vanderbilt University, “Marlowe’s story illustrates the Renaissance’s prevalent belief that “art should ‘teach and delight,’ ” that is, be entertaining while simultaneously presenting a moral. In...
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