The Limited Omnipotence in Dr. Faustus

Topics: God, Emperor, Magic Pages: 4 (1348 words) Published: November 4, 2008
When an audience looks at Christopher Marlowe as a writer in Doctor Faustus, they might believe the play is a discussion on religion. The discussion in Faustus is the decision of what to believe in, whether it may be a polytheistic or monotheistic religion. Dr. Faustus represents man's discontent with being human and the struggle of accepting the lack of omnipotence and omniscience. In Faustus, he is repeatedly questioned on his belief in his knowledge of magic, good, and evil. Faustus wants all this power and ability but to achieve this he must have knowledge in the power or religion. However, Faustus’s downfall is not his power but his knowledge in the power he possesses which is in the end limited. As one can see in Stephen Orgel’s Essay Magic and Power in Doctor Faustus, Orgel points out that Faustus did not really bargain much in his deal with the devil and he really did not know what to ask for in the end. He has all this great knowledge but he is not ambitious enough to really embrace the power he has just been given. In this brilliant play by Marlowe, he challenges the audience to look within and choose whether having great knowledge leads to a fulfilling destiny.

In the beginning of the play, the audience finds Faustus in his study, going over logic, medicine, law, religion, and magic. In the play, he only studies these subjects half way thinking he understands what he is reading by receiving all the knowledge but not really grasping the whole picture. For example, when looking at religion Faustus reads in the Bible from Romans 6:23 “The wages of sin is Death…” Faustus stops in the middle of the verse and concludes that when we sin we must die an everlasting death. However the rest of the verse goes “ …but the gift of God is eternal life,” Faustus knows that studying leads to knowledge of the truth, but if he only concludes on only half of the subject knowledge is nothing because of the truth he wants to believe. Faustus’...
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