In Dr Faustus, why is the time period stated in the deed specifically 24 years?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In traditional European literature, especially fables and fairy tales, a day often equals a year. As a result, although granting Faustus 24 years of as much knowledge as his brain can handle in return for his immortal soul seems like a good deal at first, those 24 years will seem to fly by as quickly as 24 little hours. This merely serves to highlight just how bad of a bargain Faustus has foolishly made. Besides, we also need to consider that life expectancy in Marlowe's day was considerably lower than in ours, so 24 years would have seemed like an eternity to an Elizabethan. Such a vast swathe of time lulls Faustus into a false sense of security, giving him the impression that he has much more time than he really thinks in which to impress the world with his monstrous erudition and intellectual power.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial