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Discuss the character of Doctor Faustus.

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narrypau | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted March 13, 2009 at 6:00 PM via web

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Discuss the character of Doctor Faustus.

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Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 13, 2009 at 10:05 PM (Answer #1)

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Faustus in the world of Marlowe

First, you need to observe Faustus in his element to be able to decipher him. He lived in 16th century (Renaissance) Europe. These were times when academia began to rebel against the accepted Medieval notion that everything, especially knowledge, is centered around God. Therefore, Marlowe wrote Faustus in times of philosophical and religious debate, and when people for the first time began to openly explore the supernatural as a way to think outside the parameters of the previous Medieval times. You will find that, as we discuss Faustus, he might very well be a product of his times, and a victim of his weaknesses.

Doctor Faustus himself

Doctor Faustus is a complex, confused, and tragic protagonist whose extreme intelligence brought on to him both glory and doom. It brought him glory because his wit and brilliance made him famous and respected among his peers and in academia, even in the circle of magicians that he wanted to enter. But it brought him doom because his ego got too big for his own good,and led him to a stubborn battle against the conventions of the time under his own premise he was way ahead of everyone else.

Ultimately, his ego, stubborness, ambition, and greed for more intelligence and power led him to make a pact with the devil for 24 years of service. The resultof this was a waste of everything: his so-called intelligence, his life, and his soul. This clearly shows that Faustus was indeed intelligent, but blinded by ego: The ultimate example of the typical genius who is brilliant enough to do amazing things, but who cannot tap on common sense for the most basic. In the end, he wasted it all.

Faustus' Tragedy

He wasted his intelligence because, once he began to receive the powers and gifts of Lucifer, we can clearly see that he does not use them wisely, nor can think of productive ways to make use of them. Instead, he wastes them in silly and unneccesary feats such as poking tricks at the Pope, and summoning characters from history for no important reason.

He wasted his life because, throughout his adventures, we still cannot see a genuine, or ultimate purpose to his actions. We  unveil a man who has a thick crust made of brains and wit, but inside this crust, he is ultimately empty. When his 24- year pact comes to an end, he had had more than plenty opportunities to repent and turn everything around. Yet, his personality was too egotistical, stubborn and nonsense to even come do that for his own good. In the end, he asks to burn his books in an ultimate demonstration of a life utterly wasted.

Faustus and his reality

Like in the beginning, Faustus is a representation of the mind wondering outside the box and tapping onto sources for which it is not prepared, and guided exclusively by the same weakess that was, ironically, his strength:  An intelligence he was not ready to absorb in full.

 

 

Sources:

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markchambers1966 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

Posted January 15, 2009 at 9:19 AM (Answer #2)

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Faustus is a seeker of knowledge, he sees himself as a scholar who wishes to discover the meaning of everything, and will deal with the devil to gain what he wishes. He has no real fear of hell "this word damnation terrifies not me," and as a consequence will sign away his soul in his own blood. When he has the ability to have what he wishes he doesn't really do anything with that power, Mephistopheles is able to manipulate him without too much effort. Faustus therefore is brought down at the end by his own search for knowledge that was not his to have. But he is not without friends and the scholars who wait for him are still able to feel sad for the state of his soul.

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tsechu | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 2, 2009 at 2:05 AM (Answer #3)

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Faustus' desire to learn everything beyond the limit was strong so much so that he is ready to pay everything to fulfill his desire. His absolute desire made him crazy and greedy following which he could not made out the affect of his action.

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tipputhyagarajan | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted May 15, 2010 at 10:18 PM (Answer #4)

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DR FAUSTUS REPRESENTS THE CHARACTER OF A TYPICAL RENAISSANCE MAN.HE HAD A VAST KNOWLEDGE AND HE IS A TRUE ADVOCATE OF THE FACT THAT "KNOWLEDGE IS POWER".HE PREFERRED METAPHYSICS TO PHYSICS AND THE SUPERNATURAL TO THE NATURAL.THIS CLEARLY INDICATES THAT HE WANTED TO BE SOMEONE ABOVE A HUMAN BEING IE:GOD.("A SOUND MAGICIAN IS A MIGHTY GOD").LIKE THE TYPICAL RENAISSANCE MAN HE WAS DRIVEN BY THE LUST AFTER KNOWLEDGE AND POWER AND HE SOUGHT NECROMANCY BECAUSE IF HE HAD SOUGHT OTHER FORMS OF KNOWLEDGE(THAT HE REJECTED AS UNFIT FOR HIS POSITION IN THE FIRST SCENE) HE COULD HAVE ONLY BEEN THE RULER OF MANKIND BUT WITH BLACK MAGIC HE COULD HAVE A PERFECT HOLD OVER EVERY THING (OR SO AS HE THOUGHT).BUT WE CLEARLY SEE THAT HE JUST EXCHANGED ONE KIND OF LIMITATION FOR ANOTHER IE: HE COULDN'T GET MARRIED AND MEPHISTOPHILIS RESTRICTED HIS KNOWLEDGE TO FAUSTUS.THUS FAUSTUS WAS NOT ONLY AN ECCENTRIC GERMAN SCHOLAR BUT ALSO THE PERFECT REFLECTION OF A RENAISSANCE MAN.

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