Doctor Faustus Questions and Answers
by Christopher Marlowe

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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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In scene 5 of Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus, the title character signs the contract giving Lucifer his soul in exchange for twenty-four years of Mephistophilis's obedience to do whatever Faustus pleases. Mephistophilis explains the fine print, and with the paperwork completed, Mephistophilis asks Faustus if he has any questions:

MEPHISTOPHILIS: Now, Faustus, ask what thou wilt.
FAUSTUS: First will I question with thee about hell.
Tell me where is the place that men call hell? (5.117–119)

It's interesting that Faustus waits until after he's signed the contract with Lucifer to ask this question. Mephistophilis answers:

MEPHISTOPHILIS: Under the heavens.
FAUSTUS: Ay, but whereabout? (5.120–121)

It sounds to Faustus like Mephistophilis is avoiding answering the question. "Under the heavens" could be anywhere, which is exactly where Mephistophilis is telling Faustus where hell is. Faustus doesn't grasp the implication of what Mephistophilis just said, however, and he wants to know more...

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