Doctor Faustus, Christopher Marlowe: Key Quotes & Analysis

"What doctrine call you this? Che serà, serà? What will be, shall be? Divinity, adieu!"

At the play's outset, Faustus rejects the concept of predestination and mocks the idea that his fate is predetermined. His dismissal of divine intervention highlights his desire to take control of his own destiny, setting the stage for his subsequent pursuit of power and knowledge.

"O, what a world of profit and delight, Of power, of honor and omnipotence, Is promised to the studious artisan!"

Faustus's yearning for power and omnipotence underscores his deep-seated pride and ambition. His fixation on the rewards of knowledge suggests that his pursuit is driven more by the thirst for personal glory than genuine intellectual curiosity.

"Now, Faustus, must thou needs be damned? Canst thou not be saved? What boots it, then, to think on God or heaven? Away with such vain fancies, and despair. Despair in God and trust in Beelzebub."

In this pivotal moment, Faustus grapples with the possibility of salvation and ultimately chooses to abandon all hope of redemption. His decision to align with Beelzebub solidifies his path toward damnation, illustrating his tragic fall from grace.

"Come, Mephistopheles, let us dispute again And reason of divine astrology. Speak; are there many spheres above the moon? Are all celestial bodies but one globe, As is the substance of this centric earth?"

Faustus's deep-seated curiosity about the universe reflects his insatiable thirst for knowledge. His intense engagement with Mephistopheles underscores his increasing detachment from conventional religious beliefs, emphasizing his shift toward the pursuit of worldly wisdom.

"I am Covetousness, begotten of an old churl 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!"

Covetousness's obsession with wealth epitomizes Faustus's own fixation on material gain. The portrayal of greed as an insatiable force highlights the dangers of prioritizing earthly desires over spiritual fulfillment, a theme that underpins Faustus's downfall.

"But new exploits do hale him out again, And, mounted then upon a dragon's back, That with his wings did part the subtle air, He now is gone to prove cosmography, That measures coasts and kingdoms of the earth."

Through the Chorus's narration, Faustus's transformation into an ambitious and daring figure is depicted. His pursuit of cosmography and exploration symbolizes his reckless ambition, foreshadowing his eventual downfall as he oversteps the boundaries of mortal capability.

"Know you not, traitors, I was limited For four-and-twenty years to breathe on earth?"

Faustus's recognition of the brevity of his life underscores the tragic consequences of his pact with the Devil. His poignant acknowledgment of his limited time on earth signifies his growing realization of the true cost of his reckless pursuit of power and knowledge.

"Was this the face that launched a thousand ships, And burnt the topless towers of Ilium? Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss: Her lips suck forth my soul, see where it flies! Come Helen, come, give me my soul again. Here will I dwell, for heaven be in these lips, And all is dross that is not Helena!"

Faustus's plea to Helen of Troy for eternal life reflects his desperate and misguided attempt to find salvation in earthly beauty. His misguided pursuit of immortality through an ephemeral entity signifies his tragic misunderstanding of true spiritual redemption.

"I think my master means to die shortly. He has made his will and given me his wealth: His house, his goods, and store of golden plate, Besides two thousand ducats ready coined. I wonder what he means."

Wagner's revelation about Faustus's imminent death highlights the abrupt end to Faustus's pursuit of power and knowledge. Faustus's bequest of his possessions to his servant symbolizes his ultimate isolation and disillusionment, emphasizing the profound consequences of his tragic choices.

Study Guide
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