The Portrayal of Dr. Faustus as a Tragic Hero

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Discuss how the passage (Act 5 Scene 2) contributes to the portrayal of Faustus as a tragic hero, paying particular attention to Marlowe’s use of language.

Dr Faustus is a well-educated and well respected scholar and we recognise instantly that he has a reputation for this fact. He has made the fatal error of doubting God’s existence, making a mistake that is characteristic of human nature. By doing this we feel some form of connection with him because he has a sense of realism. He wants to gain more knowledge that is also another feature of human beings.

In the passage we learn that his time has come, and in that instance he becomes a tragic hero as you sympathize with him as he really doesn’t want to die. This passage itself links strongly to the central themes of the play. Marlowe’s use of language conveys that Faustus has accepted his fate, and you hear the relief in his voice that it will finally be over once he has seen Helen and “may extinguish clean, those thoughts that do dissuade me from my vow”. Once Mephistopheles has brought Helen to him, his pleasure is clear and he is satisfied that he will always remember her kiss “here will I dwell, for heaven be in these lips”. He is drifting away picturing himself as Paris, successful and triumphant. But he chooses not to remember that Paris was seen as a coward and a failure. He describes defeating Achilles and returning to Helen, perhaps hoping that he will overcome his tortured soul with the memories of Helen kissing him. This shows that although Faustus knows the Greek stories so well as to recite them, he does not understand them. Such a hero suffers from a change of happiness to misery because of his mistaken choice which is led by his error of judgement. His speech is beautiful, but as usual Faustus is all talk. He seems unable, or unwilling, to realize that his words are only a damned man's fantasy.

He asks Helen to make him immortal “Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss”. Does this show...
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