Christopher Marlowe – Doctor Faustus (ctd.)

Faustus reveals to his friends the truth – this night his contract with the devil expires and he is going to be taken to hell. His friends are sorry for him and one even offers to stay with him, but others advise against it, and even Faustus himself says it is too dangerous. So they are going to go to the next room and pray for him, Faustus warning them never to look into the room where he is, no matter what kind of noise they may hear.

Left alone, Faustus delivers his finest speech in the play: it is his last hour on earth and he wishes for the time to stop. He has a vision of crucified Christ, with blood pouring from his wounds and he wishes to touch it, but then this vision is replaced with the one of an angry God. Then Faustus wishes for his disappearance in the gaping earth, and after that imagines him to be bodily drawn into a cloud from which his soul would emerge purified. 11:30 strikes. Faustus now wishes for a limited stay in hell, let it be even a thousand years – but damnation has no limits. Finally he muses about the Pythagorean metempsychosis – if he were reincarnated as an animal, his soul would dissolve in the beast’s body. But midnight strikes, the devils enter and take him to hell. The Chorus comes on stage to say the moral: let this be a warning to all of you, not to inquire too deeply into things which are to be only to wondered at.

Thus ends Doctor Faustus, a great mixed image of gold and clay: great poetry like in the final monologue with rather heavy-handed comedy and some rather long-winded scenes like the Masque of Seven Sins. But it’s not over yet, because the NAEL has provided a side-by-side comparison of the two versions of one passage, so that’s coming tomorrow.




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