During Christopher Marlowe’s time and for centuries before then,“sloth” was considered one of the “seven deadly sins.” In fact, Sloth appears in as a character in Marlowe’s play Doctor Faustus in precisely that capacity. Sloth was traditionally defined as apathy or laziness, especially in matters involving one’s own soul and the souls of others. Doctor Faustus is guilty of sloth, as even the opening scene of the play implies.
In that scene, Faustus demonstrates again and again that he is incapable of the hard work and true commitment demanded by various callings in life. He rejects one possible career after another, partly because he cannot focus on any single one of them. Despite his great learning, he is in some ways very intellectually lazy.
Faustus himself seems to recognize this problem; in his very first words of the play, he urges himself to
Settle thy studies,...
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