Friday, 16 August 2013

Theme of 'Doctor Faustus'


Faustus, even after getting his degree of Doctorate and studying all the important branches of learning like Philosophy, Physics, Law and Divinity realizes that he is still but a man. All are inadequate and none of these subjects can help him to become as powerful on earth as Jove in sky. This inordinate desire to attain super-human powers is absolutely in keeping with the adventurous spirit of the age of Renaissance. And to attain this Faustus makes the supreme but tragic decision of his life.

                   A sound magician is a mighty god;
                        Here, Faustus, tire thy brain to gain a deity.

And he would attain this power at any cost, even by selling his soul to the Devil.

          Knowledge is no doubt power; but Faustus, who is the embodiment of dreams and desires of the rising bourgeoisie of his age, forgets in his fit of passion that there is a limit to man's powers and possibilities and that knowledge may also become a source of ruin and destruction if it is abused. He ignores the fact that to make an attempt to fly near the sun with waxen wings means certain doom and destruction. Thus to Faustus:

                   Nothing so sweet as magic is to him,
                        Which he prefers before his chiefest bliss.

          He discarded the advice of the Good Angel, rather turned a deaf ear to the voice of his conscience, and conjured up Mephistophilis, a deputy of great Lucifer, the Prince of the Devils. With his mastery over the black art and with the help of Mephistophilis, his constant slave, he gained super-human power and moved across the earth and sky to well-known cities, had a spirit of Helen, the matchless beauty and demonstrated miraculous feats before the kings and courtiers.

          But ultimately the final hour approached when Faustus was to surrender his soul to the Devil. Horror of impending doom made him tragic and his terror-stricken soul fervently wished that movement of time might stop or the final hour might be lengthened so that he could have a last chance to repent and pray for God's mercy. But nothing is of any avail. The Devils appear and carry away his soul for eternal damnation.

          Thus by depicting the terrible end of Doctor Faustus, Marlow presented in this drama the most awe-inspiring doctrine of the medieval Christianity that tells us that 'to practice more that heavenly power permits means eternal damnation'.

                   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.

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