Close Reading of Dr. Faustus
Paper 1: Evaluation of Faustus’s internal dispute Faust. My heart’s so hard’ned I can not repent.|20|Scarce can I call redemption, faith, or heaven,|| However fearful echoes thunder in mine ears|| “Faustus, thou art damn ‘d!” Then swords and knives,|| Toxin, weapon, halters, and poison ‘d steel|| Are laid prior to me to despatch myself,|25|And long ere this I ought to have killed myself,|| Had not sweet satisfaction conquer ‘d deep misery.|| Have I not made blind Homer sing to me|| Of Alexander’s love and Oenon’s death?||
And hath not he that developed the walls of Thebes|30|With ravishing noise of his melodious harp,|| Made music with my Mephistophilis?|| Why should I pass away then, or basely anguish?|| I am resolv ‘d: Faustus will ne’er repent.|| Come, Mephistophilis, let us contest again,|35|And argue of divine astrology.|| Inform me, exist many paradises above the moon?|| Are all heavenly bodies however one world,|| As is the substance of this centric earth?|| Excerpt: Dr. Faustus scene VI There are three main ideas we can draw out to summarize this whole passage.
We see Faustus’s fear as he is haunted by the reality that he is damned. He believes that his heart has hardened to a point where he can’t repent and briefly contemplates suicide through different weapons (toxin, gun, envenomed steel). Faustus then reveals that it was being able to listen to Homer recite for him tales of Alexander, Oenon and the story of the building and construction of Thebes’s wall that save him from his deep despair. It is then that Faustus relents and fixes himself to arguing about the divine and seeking truths of the natural world around him.
The Parallels between Paris (typically referred to as Alexander or Alexandros son of Priam) and Faustus that can be drawn from the poetic musings of Homer give a total foreshadowing of the conclusion of the play disallowing any Major modification in Faustus’s character. The referral to “Alexander’s love” is supposed to make us consider the Odyssey specifically Paris’s fascination with Helen of Troy, which is the primary reason for non-divine inspired conflict in the Greek disaster. This serves as a direct parallel to Dr.
Faustus’s total fascination with knowledge and power at the beginning of the play; it is this fixation that leads Faustus to make his pact with the devil which leads him on his path to damnation. We even see further evidence of an implied connection in Scene 14, as Faustus asks “Helen, come, provide me my soul again. Here will I dwell, for Heaven remains in these lips, And all is dross that is not Helena. I will be Paris, and for love of thee” (14. 92-96) Here Faustus utilizes his power to summon Helen and states that he is Paris. The allusions to “Oenon’s death?” likewise foreshadow the consequences of Faustus’s fascination.
Oenon was Paris’s first wife and according to Homeric mythos, a water nymph with healing powers. It was throughout the Trojan War that Paris left Oenon for Helen. Throughout the war he was seriously injured and crawled to Oenon and pleaded for her to recover him; she declined, letting him die, and proceeds to commit suicide in her grief. This once again perfectly mirrors Dr. Faustus and his relationship with God: He severs his relationship with a divine in order to chase his fascination. It is only after his soul is significantly polluted in the last scene that Faustus repents to God, feigning remorse for his choice.
As Paris was refused by Oenon, Faustus too is declined his plea and is damned to Hell following his death. Homer recites for Faustus the story of the building of the wall of Thebes. According to Euripides there where two kids of Zeus, Amphion and Zethus. Though, they were twins, they had different skills and mindsets. Zethus was the strongest man at the time, and took pleasure in manly actions that needed physical strength, such as fighting and hunting. Zethus could not understand Amphion’s love for music, who excelled with the lyre and singing.
It was Amphion and Zethus who had constructed the walls and the 7 gates of Thebes. When the wall of Thebes was under construction, Zethus brought the heavy stones to construct the wall from the mountains of Cithaeron. Here, Amphion showed what his music could do. While playing his lyre, the stones were charmed by the music that they followed Amphion. The declaration: “And hath not he that developed the walls of Thebes With ravishing sound of his sweet-sounding harp Made music with my Mephistophilis?” compares the seductive power of Mephistophilis’ to that of Amphion and his harp.
Before Mephistophilis, Faustus attempts to attain his life objective under his own power similar to Zethus developing the wall of Thebe’s in the standard manner. Mephistophilis then came and had the ability to provide Faustus what he wanted through his pact in a manner really comparable to Amphion captivating the stone into location. The danger is the difference in between Amphion and Mephistophilis and the aspiration of Faustus. Amphion’s music was indicated as a metaphor to reveal that a city is absolutely nothing however a lot of rocks without the defining culture of its citizens to hold it together, Mephistophilis “music” is a seductive force suggested to damages Faustus’s ambitions.
We see that unlike the other examples recited by Homer, Faustus himself draws this contrast and acknowledges the capacity of his arguments with Mephistophilis. Faustus gets a Pavlovian reaction of Mephistophilis “music” resolving his issues which can be shown with Faustus goading a dispute saying “come Mephistophilis let us dispute once again”. Irony can be discovered in Faustus using these examples of “sweet satisfaction” as validation of his joy with his pact. Faustus stating: “Why should I pass away then, or basely anguish?
I am resolv ‘d: Faustus will ne’er repent.” shows his complete satisfaction with the occasions and the apparent adequacy to compensate the anguish brought on by his “solidified soul”. The symbolic importance of the context of the passages recited by homer seems lost on Faustus. This absence of desire to listen to the wisdom of old, to the excellent angel, to him self, to theology; will ultimately result in his failure yet he continues to just listen to his books and Mephistophilis. This lack of desire to listen however can be due to the human condition.
Throughout the play Faustus questions Mephistophilis on issues of the human condition. Who made the world? What is the function of human life? Why does evil exist? These are all questions raised by Faustus that are overlooked Mephistophilis. The concern in this passage “Inform me, exist many heavens above the moon? Are all celestial bodies however one world, As is the substance of this centric earth” is mostly crucial in addressing this problem as it shows that Faustus does not consider paradise and hell as psychological or spiritual state however as a physical place.
Hence the line preceding this passage” When I see the heavens, then I repent, And curse thee, wicked Mephistopheles, Due to the fact that thou hast depriv ‘d me of those happiness.” Too ends up being more pertinent as he thinks he can physically the happiness outside of spiritual satisfaction. This puts these physical tangible enjoyments he received from Mephistophilis as more relevant than the warnings he got from Homer and the Angels.