Chorus: So much he profits in divinity That shortly he was graced with doctor's name, Excelling all, and sweetly can dispute In th'heavenly matters of theology. (Prologue.15-18)
Becoming a doctor of divinity in a medieval university was a process that took almost fifteen years. Yep, you read that right. First you had to study the classics, and in the end you had to study the Bible in detail.So the fact that Faustus has this degree means he's smart. We're talking genius level here, folks.
FAUSTUS Is to dispute well logic's chiefest end? Affords this art no greater miracle? (1.1.8-9)
Faustus is trying to decide which body of knowledge is worth his time by discovering what the goal of each discipline is. See, the problem with logic is that the whole point is to make you a good debater.
BAD ANGEL Go forward, Faustus, in that famous art Wherein all Nature's treasure is contained. (1.1.72-73)
Although by referring to "Nature's treasure" the Bad Angel seems to be holding out the promise of wealth to Faustus, he could also be referring to the knowledge of Nature. Medieval and Renaissance scholars often described Nature as a book whose secrets could be discovered by the careful reader.
FAUSTUS How am I glutted with conceit of this! Shall I make spirits fetch me what I please, Resolve me of all ambiguities. […] I'll have them read me strange philosophy And tell the secrets of all foreign kings. (1.1.76-78, 84-85
Faustus's quest for knowledge transforms into a need to learn the "secrets of all foreign kings," suggesting how much Faustus's desire for knowledge is tied up with his equally strong need to have power.
FAUSTUS O, what a world of profit and delight, Of power, of honor and omnipotence, Is promised to the studious artisan! All things that move between the quiet poles Shall be at my command. Emperors and kings Are but obeyed in their several provinces, but his dominion that exceeds in this Stretcheth as far as doth the mind of man. A sound magician is a demigod. (1.1.52-59)
CORNELIUS He that is grounded in astrology, Enriched with tongues, well seen in minerals, Hath all the principles magic doth require. Then doubt not, Faustus, but to be renowned And more frequented for this mystery Than heretofore the Delphian oracle. (1.1.131-136)
Faustus's friend tells him he's already well suited to learn magic because of his education in astrology, languages, and alchemy.
FAUSTUS Did not he charge thee to appear to me? MEPHISTOPHELES No, I came now hither of mine own accord. FAUSTUS Did not my conjuring speeches raise thee? Speak. MEPHISTOPHELES That was the cause, but yet, per accidents. (1.3.41-44)
FAUSTUS Tell me what is that Lucifer, thy lord? MEPHISTOPHELES Arch-regent and commander of all spirits. FAUSTUS Was not Lucifer an angel once? MEPHISTOPHELES Yes, Faustus, and most dearly loved of God. FAUSTUS How comes it, then, that he is prince of devils? MEPHISTOPHELES O, by aspiring pride and insolence, For which God threw him from the face of heaven. (1.3.60-66)
FAUSTUS I charge thee wait upon me whilst I live To do whatever Faustus shall command, Be it to make the moon drop from her sphere Or the ocean to overwhelm the world.
EMPEROR Wonder of men, renowned magician, Thrice-learned Faustus, welcome to our court. This deed of thine, in setting Bruno free From his and our professed enemy Shall add more excellence unto thine art Than if by powerful necromantic spells Thou couldst command the world's obedience. (4.1.47-53)
FAUSTUS I'll have them fly to India for gold, Ransack the ocean for orient pearl, And search all corners of the new-found world For pleasant fruits and princely delicates. (1.1.80-84)
The riches that Faustus imagines are all from exotic, foreign lands, and ones that had all recently been discovered by Europeans: India, the Orient (Asia), and the "new-found world" (the Americas). These riches would've been tough to get and, therefore, more expensive, but Faustus's desire for them also suggests that he wants to be like a conqueror or explorer. His desire is like an explorer toexploit the wealth of the new world. Could that mean he's also power hungry, too?
FAUSTUS Had I as many souls as there be stars, I'd give them all for Mephistopheles. By him I'll be great emperor of the world And make a bridge through the moving air To pass the ocean with a band of men. I'll join the hills that bind the Africanshore And make that country continent to Spain, And both contributory to my crown. The Emperor shall not live but by my leave, Nor any potentate in Germany. (1.3.100-109)
The spirits tell me they can dry the sea And fetch the treasure of all foreign wrecks, Yea, all the wealth that our forefathers hid Within the massy entrails of the earth. Then tell me Faustus, what shall we three want? (1.1.137-141)
FAUSTUS Ha, ha, ha! Faustus hath his leg again, and the horse-courser a bundle of hay for his forty dollars. (4.4.40-42)
Faustus's interaction with the horse-dealer doesn't exactly make him look like a good person. He has tricked the poor guy into paying forty bucks for an enchanted bundle of hay (that currently looks like a horse) for no other reason than he thought it was funny
FAUSTUS I'll have them fill the public schools with silk, Wherewith the students shall be bravely clad. (1.1.88-89)
Hey, that's not such a bad goal, right? Faustus seems downright charitable here. Silk is an expensive fabric, which tells us that Faustus wants to help impoverished scholars enjoy a life more luxurious than the one to which they're accustomed.
FAUSTUSIf we say that we have no sin,We deceive ourselves, and there is no truth in us.Why, then, belike we must sinAnd so consequently die.Ay, we must die an everlasting death.What doctrine call you this? Cheserà, serà?What will be, shall be? Divinity, adieu! (1.1.41-47) Religiousthemes
mankind is predestined to sin, and is therefore headed to hell. He also thinks that, because of this, studying religion has no point. This tells us that Faustus is not interested in knowledge for its own sake—only for how it can benefit him.
MEPHISTOPHELES For, when we hear one rack the name of God, Abjure the Scriptures and his Savior Christ, We fly in hope to get his glorious soul; Nor will we come unless he use such means Whereby he is in danger to be damned. (1.3.45-49)
Swearingor cursing God—draws devils around you who will to try to win your soul for the Dark Side. Aperson always opens a space in his heart for the devil when he sins, but by swearing, he announces it to the world, basically advertising to evil spirits that his soul is theirs for the taking.
FAUSTUS Stay, Mephistopheles, and tell me What good will my soul do thy lord? MEPHISTOPHELES Enlarge his kingdom. FAUSTUS Is that the reason why he tempts us thus? MEPHISTOPHELES Solamenmiserissocioshabuissedoloris. (2.1.38-41) to the unhappy it is a comfort to have had company in misery."
Mephistopheles's Latin response to Faustus's question translates into "to the unhappy it is a comfort to have had company in misery." (In other words, "misery loves company.") This is basically a warning from Mephistopheles to Faustus to turn back from his intended course of action, since it implies that hell is miserable. But Faustus ignores it. He's really good at ignoring people.
MEPHISTOPHELES Hell hath no limits, nor is circumscribed In one self place, but where we are is hell, And where hell is, there must we ever be. (2.1.118-120) Definition of hell
Ever read Paradise Lost? In that piece, Satan declares, "Myself am hell." Like that declaration, Mephistopheles's description moves close to defining hell not as a place, but as a state of the soul. Those souls that are separated from God by their sins are in hell no matter what physical place they are in. It's everywhere.
MEPHISTOPHELES But think'st thou heaven is such a glorious thing? I tell thee, Faustus, it is not half so fair As thou, or any man that breathe on earth. FAUSTUS How prov'st thou that? MEPHISTOPHELES 'Twas made for man; then he's more excellent. (2.3.5-9) Comparison of HellandMan
FAUSTUS Now tell me who made the world? MEPHISTOPHELES I will not. FAUSTUS Sweet Mephistopheles, tell me. MEPHISTOPHELES Move me not, Faustus. FAUSTUS Villain, have I not bound thee to tell me anything? MEPHISTOPHELES Ay, that is not against our kingdom; This is. Thou art damned; think thou of hell. FAUSTUS Think, Faustus, upon God that made the world. (2.3.66-74) Questionsabouttheuniverse
PRIDEI am Pride. I disdain to have any parents. I am like to Ovid's flea. I can creep into every corner of a wench. (2.2.110-111) Seven deadlysins
Pride probably begins the parade of the Seven Deadly Sins because folks thought it was the root of all sin. For example, many believed that at the beginning of creation, the devil fell from heaven because of his pride, because he didn't want God ruling over him. Pride's refusal to "have any parents" is probably an allusion to that event.
I am Covetousness, begotten of an old churl (selfish) in a leather bag; and, might I now obtain my wish, this house, you, and all should turn to gold, that I might lock you safe into my chest. O my sweet gold! (2.3.120-123) COVETOUSNESS
having everything isn't enough; Covetousness wants it all to turn to gold, too. We guess greed only creates more greed.
I am Envy. I cannot read and therefore wish all books burned. I am lean with seeing others eat. O, that there would come a famine over all the world, that all might die and I live alone. (2.3.126-129) ENVY
I am Wrath. I had neither father nor mother. I leaped out of a lion's mouth when I was scarce an hour old and ever since have run up and down the world with this case of rapiers (Sharpsword), wounding myself when I could get none to fight withal.(2.3.132-134) Wrath
The lesson to be learned from Wrath seems to be that it hurts the angry person as much as the person he's angry at, since Wrath wounds himself when he has no one to fight with
I am Gluttony. My parents are all dead, and the devil a penny they have left me but a small pension, and that buys me thirty meals a day and ten bevers—a small trifle to suffice nature. (2.3.139-142) GLUTTONY
Gluttony is the sin of eating and drinking in excess. Gluttony, for example, eats thirty meals a day and ten "bevers," or snacks, but is still ready for more.
I am Sloth. I was begotten on a sunny bank. Heigh-ho! I'll not speak a word more for a king's ransom. (2.3.152-154) SLOTH
THIRD SCHOLAR'Tis but a surfeit, sir; fear nothing.FAUSTUSA surfeit of deadly sin that hath damned both body and soul. (5.2.36-38)
When Faustus complains that he's sick, the Scholars, drawing upon their medical knowledge, conclude that Faustus probably has an excess of something in his body. Back then, they thought that an excess of something like blood or bile was the root cause of a disease. Faustus turns their idea on its head, though, by acknowledging that he possesses an excess—of deadly sin, that is.
[Enter Devils, giving crowns and rich apparel to Faustus. They dance, and then depart. Enter Mephistopheles.] FAUSTUS What means this show? Speak, Mephistopheles. MEPHISTOPHELES Nothing, Faustus, but to delight thy mind And let thee see what magic can perform. FAUSTUS But may I raise such spirits when I please? MEPHISTOPHELES Ay, Faustus, and do greater things than these. . (2.1.81-89)