Please explain and analyze this quotation from Doctor Faustus?Mephastophilis: Within the bowels of these elements, Where we are tortured, and remain for ever. Hell hath no limits, nor is...

Please explain and analyze this quotation from Doctor Faustus?

Mephastophilis:

Within the bowels of these elements,

Where we are tortured, and remain for ever.

Hell hath no limits, nor is circumscribed

In one self place; but where we are is hell,

And where hell is, there must we ever be.

And to be short, when all the world dissolves,

And every creature shall be purified,

All places shall be hell that is not heaven.

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Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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In scene five of Doctor Faustus, after Faustus signs the contract with Lucifer, he asks Mephistopheles to tell him where hell is.  At first, he answers the doctor that hell is "under the heavens" (120).  Faustus is more curious, and when he presses for more detail, Mephistopheles attempts to convince the doctor of the seriousness of hell.  In one of the most famous lines from the play, "hell hath no limits, nor is circumscribed in one self place," Mephistopheles tries to make Faustus understand the gravity of his decision to sign the contract with Lucifer, and the reality of hell.  Hell is inescapable for all who do not repent, and "all places shall be hell that is not heaven" (129). 

In the next line, however, it becomes clear that Faustus does not buy into the seriousness of the situation, claiming "Hell's a fable" (130).  Faustus fails to understand what Mephistopheles was trying to get across--without repentance, hell will be an inevitability for the doctor, an inescapable destination.

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