What poetic devices does Marlowe use to convey Faust's terror and despair in Doctor Faustus?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Marlowe uses a range of poetical devices to convey the despair and terror of Faustus as he faces the inevitable outcome of his bargain with Mephistopheles. As he contemplates the perpetual damnation that is now his inescapable destiny, he addresses any power out there that might be able to save him. Note how he uses apostrophes in the following speech, taken from his final speech at the end of the play:

Earth, gape! O no, it will not harbor me.
You stars that reigned at my nativity,
Whose influence hath allotted death and hell,
Now draw up Faustus like a foggy mist
Into the entrails of yon laboring cloud,
That when you vomit forth into the air
My limbs may issue from your smoky mouths,
So that my soul may but ascend to heaven.

Earth and the stars are both addressed, and likewise Faustus uses a simile in "like a foggy mist" and compares a cloud to a ravenous beast that might suck him up and then "vomit" him out again from his mouth so that, even if his body perishes, his soul might gain heaven. We can see the terror and the despair of Faustus in the way that he actively desires such a terrible death for himself. His despair drives him to wish an end to his life so that he may gain eternal life.


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