What happens when Faustus calls on Christ in Doctor Faustus? Is this scene theologically valid?

Quick answer:

When Faustus calls on Christ, Lucifer appears and reminds him that he's breaking his promise. As a diversion, Lucifer puts on a show in which the Seven Deadly Sins parade before Faustus, who is thoroughly entertained. The scene is theologically valid in that it shows that only Christ can save us and that it's all too easy for sinful humans to succumb to temptation.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In scene 5 of Doctor Faustus, we see the title character starting to get cold feet about the shabby deal he's made with Lucifer. Faustus may have sold his soul to the devil, but he still has enough of the Christian inside him to cry out for Christ to save him.

From the standpoint of orthodox Christian theology, this is a perfectly valid request, as all Christians, irrespective of their denominational differences, believe that only Christ can save sinful humans.

When Faustus calls out for Christ to save him, Lucifer responds by reminding him that he's breaking the promise that he made by thinking about Christ. Keen to ensure that Faustus sticks to the terms of their bargain, Lucifer provides him with some diverting entertainment. He does this by parading the Seven Deadly Sins before Faustus. Suitably diverted by this display of sensuality, Faustus is thoroughly entertained; his soul is fed by the spectacle, just as Lucifer hoped it would be.

Once again, we see an illustration of orthodox Christian theology in that Faustus, an inveterate sinner, is easily tempted by sin and distracted from heavenly thoughts. Christ himself may have been able to avoid the temptations of the devil when he was in the wilderness, but the all-too-human Faustus is not, and so his brief invoking of Christ's name, with its desperate plea for salvation, soon gives way to a renewed commitment to a selfish, sensual, worldly existence.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial