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Compare Faustus’ beginning and final speeches of his initial and final wishes in...
Topic: Doctor Faustus
Compare Faustus’ beginning and final speeches of his initial and final wishes in Doctor Faustus by Marlowe, and say what characteristics of Faustus are shown?
All things that move between quiet poles
Shall be at my command: emperors and kings
Are but obeyed in their several provinces,
Nor can they raise the wind, or rend the clouds;
But his Dominion that exceeds in this,
Stretched as far as doth the mind of man;
A sound magician is a mighty god:
Now draw up Faustus, like a foggy mist,
Into entrails of your labouring cloud,
That, when thou wömit forth into the air,
My limbs may issue from your smoky mouths,
So that my soul may but ascend to heaven!
O soul, be chang'd into little water-drops,
And fall into the ocean, ne'er be found!
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There is nothing simple about Doctor Faustus by Marlowe. Quotes must be understood in context or be misunderstood. The Chorus begins by saying Faustus excelled in scholarly pursuits to the extent that all others were surpassed:
Excelling all whose sweet delight disputes
In heavenly matters of theology;
Thus he succumbed to "self-conceit": false pride, thinking himself able to attain ultimate knowledge of God. This is what the allusion to Icarus means: like Icarus, Faustus was ecstatic about his ability to attain things not meant to be attained, all the knowledge of God, "Tell me who made the world?":
But Icarus forgot his father's warning and plunged to his death in the sea. (Icarus and Daedalus, MythWeb.com)
CHORUS: Till swoln with cunning, of a self-conceit,
His waxen wings did mount above his reach,
And, melting, heavens conspir'd his overthrow;
This shows the complicated nature of Faustus's motivation. While his aspiration is knowledge, as the Chorus states, he recognizes the power it brings. To say he is motivated by greed and ambition is a very different thing: these can exist without desire for knowledge. Faustus's motivation came from lust for knowledge based upon false pride that awakened thirst for the power knowledge brings: this informs the ironic end where he abandons knowledge by desiring to burn his books.
With this context, in your first quote, "All things ... / Shall be at my command ...," Faustus is rehearsing the glories that knowledge brings. This reflects his false pride--the pride of Icarus--and the thirst for power awakened by the lust for knowledge. Faustus realizes that if he fulfills his knowledge quest, he will be like God, "A sound magician is a mighty god." This is why the Chorus says he preferred magic "before his chiefest bliss," i.e., God's salvation.
The context of the second quote is the last hour of Faustus's life; he pleads for time to stop:
Stand still, you ever-moving spheres of heaven,
That time may cease,...
Faustus has changed his mind about ultimate knowledge--he has found attainment to be impossible. He has found that Lucifer actually prevents the attainment: Lucifer offers him books on tricks likes those Wagner does: "take this book; ... turn thyself into what shape thou wilt." Faustus wants to cry out to God but Lucifer tortures him. He finds himself unable to fight back (though the Old Man is angry with him for it):
"O, I'll leap up to my God!--Who pulls me down?--"
Your next quote begins in mid-sentence as part of Faustus's final lament. He pleads that the astrological stars governing his birth might make him vanish so as to escape Lucifer's coming, so as he might ascend to heaven like Andromeda the star. He ends his pleadings when the clock strikes to usher in the devils. Before his hellish deal--for he has changed and does now fear Lucifer and Hell--he pleads to vanish "into little water-drops." His last tragically ironic appeal is that he disavow all knowledge by burning his books.
The comparison is that in the first, Faustus is at the height of his false pride and depth of his lust for knowledge. In the last, he is stripped of false pride and disavows knowledge as worthless, as something to be burned. Yet he is terrorized into ineffectuality. The message is that knowledge will render us impotent against Hell without moral and spiritual strength and fortitude to assert our dependence upon God's mercy for salvation, which, in the last hour, is all that is important.
Posted by kplhardison on June 10, 2012 at 8:19 PM (Answer #1)
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