Faustus' Final Night
Faustus' Final Night. What do we learn about Faustus' character during his final night on earth? What do the events and speeches of that night tell us about the reasons and the meaning of his tragic downfall?
When we meet Faustus in the closing scene, he is seen in the company of his three scholar friends. He is desperately on the verge of physical and mental collapse. In this scene, we find the climax culminating into a terrible catastrophe. The most poignant last soliloquy of Doctor Faustus, just an hour before his final doom, reveals forcefully the deep agony of a horror-stricken soul. It reveals in the most convincing manner the spiritual torture of a hopeless but repentant sinner who is about to be overtaken by death and perdition. The last four lines of the monologue are unsurpassed as far as their effect of horror is concerned. When the clock strikes twelve, the agents of Lucifer snatch away the agonized soul of Faustus to hell to suffer eternal damnation :
My God, my God, look not so fierce on me !
Adders and serpents , let me breathe a while !
Ugly hell, gape not ! come not, Lucifer !
I’ll burn my books ! ― Ah, Mephistophilis ! [Exeunt Devils with Faustus]
Faustus’s very last word is the shriek ‘Mephistophilis’ and the play comes to a kind of quiet ending, which a great tragedy demands.
The real battle in the play is not fought in a battlefield for any kingdom or crown, but in the limitless regions of the mind. The focus is always on the conflict which was raging within the mind of Faustus―the conflict between the spiritual and the demonic forces. In Doctor Faustus, Marlowe has thus undertaken to present the greatest conflict in the mind of a man. The one dominant impression produced by the play is of the tension and torment suffered by a man who allies himself with the forces of evil for the sake of self and power and who realizes his folly when it is too late for him to repent or retrace his steps.