What are falling and rising moments of the protagonist in Doctor Faustus?

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deenadmh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The rise and fall of Faustus are difficult to separate because as he is rising in status and power, he is ultimately falling into eternal damnation. After signing the contract with Mephostophilis, Faustus is able to visit any corner of the world, has the ability to gain as much knowledge as he seeks, and prey on innocent victims, as we so clearly see he does with the Pope. The more he continues to rise in power, he falls deeper and deeper into the pits of Hell, even terrifying Mephostophilis into begging Faustus to repent.  Faustus' frivolous demands mirror his descent into Hell, as the closer he gets to the end of his 24 years, the more ridiculous his demands become. Where he first demanded to learn about astronomy, he later demands to have horns placed on someone's head. This lowering of standards is symbolic of the lowering of Faustus' status, without his full awareness of what is going on.  As Faustus comes upon his final hour of life, we see that he loses his dignity in addition to losing his life. This becomes his ultimate fall or failure. He leaves the world and is pulled into Hell kicking and screaming, and even begging for his life back. He repents and regrets, but to no avail. He is held responsible for his contract, and as the clock strikes midnight, he is lowered into Hell. We can see Faustus as a tragic hero, because he possess the tragic flaw of greed, that eventually leads to his downfall. His quest for knowledge and power takes him beyond human ability.