Doctor Faustus "Cut Is The Branch That Might Have Grown Full Straight"
by Christopher Marlowe

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"Cut Is The Branch That Might Have Grown Full Straight"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Dr. Faustus, illustrious scholar in divinity, the liberal arts, medicine, and law, in seeking a new field of study succumbs to the fascination of metaphysics and, in a deal with the Devil, sealed with his own blood, sells his soul to Lucifer in exchange for black wisdom, the assurance of twenty-four more years of life, the constant attendance of the demon Mephistophilis, and a life of voluptuousness. The degeneration of Faustus is complete by the end of the years of the bargain; and, amid thunder and the tolling of the midnight bell, devils bear him off to hell, as a final chorus philosophizes for the audience on the tragical fall of Faustus:


CHORUS
Cut is the branch that might have grown full straight,
And burnèd is Apollo's laurel-bough
That sometime grew within this learnèd man.
Faustus is gone: regard his hellish fall,
Whose fiendful fortune may exhort the wise
Only to wonder at unlawful things,
Whose deepness doth entice such forward wits
To practice more than heavenly power permits.