What is the relation between place, eternity, and sexual (or sensual) experience in Doctor Faustus? What are some moments in the play that represent this?

There is a close relation between place and eternity in Doctor Faustus. While the literal action of the play takes place in the earthly setting of Wittenberg, Germany, the story also involves the eternal realms of heaven and hell. Sexual or sensual experience is not a major part of the play, but Faustus does ask Mephistopheles for a wife to satisfy his wantonness and summon the beautiful Helen of Troy.

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"Cut is the branch that might have grown full straight."

The English playwright (and possible spy and atheist) Christopher Marlowe's late sixteenth-century play Doctor Faustus has a setting that can only be described as cosmic. There is the literal setting of the play, which is Wittenberg, Germany (one wonders if he chose it because of Luther), but it is not as important as the larger setting, one that encompasses heaven and hell, the past and the present, and earth and space. The plot hinges on Faustus trading his eternal soul for occult powers, and he conjures the figure of Mephistopheles, a demon. Other supernatural characters include two angels, one good and one evil, the seven deadly sins, and even the Devil himself. Faustus is skeptical about hell, calling it a "fable," but in the end, he is dragged down there by devils. The interplay between the literal setting and the spiritual setting gets to Marlowe's theme of worldly success and the rewards of eternity. Faustus only cares about the former, and this is his downfall.

On the final issue of sexual/sensual experience, it's only of minor concern to Faustus. He uses his powers to ask Mephistopheles for a wife because he is "wanton and lascivious and cannot live without a wife" (1.5.143). In a comic moment, Mephistopheles gives him a devil dressed as a woman. The only other notable instance is the appearance of the legendary beauty Helen of Troy, she of "the face that launched a thousand ships." But, ultimately, Faustus is more concerned with power and knowledge than he is with sex and sensual experiences.

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