• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

"An impressive opening, a marvellous ending, an indifferent middle". Does this twentieth century comment represent to you a fair summary of Dr. Faustus? Support your views by detailed illustrations of the text.

Extracts from this document...


Elena Solaro 13M "An impressive opening, a marvellous ending, an indifferent middle". Does this twentieth century comment represent to you a fair summary of Dr. Faustus? Support your views by detailed illustrations of the text. The narrative patterns of Dr. Faustus can be said to take on a loose, three-part structure, in which the first part involves the serious business of Faustus conjuring the devil, the middle involves trivial entertainment and the final section, in which the play reaches an intense poetic conclusion. It is arguable that compared to the high drama and passion evident at the beginning and end, the middle of the play has little to offer. However, despite the fact that in Faustus, Marlowe intended to portray the tragic downfall of a great man, he also included the apparently frivolous middle scenes for a specific purpose. The play opens with Faustus alone in his study, contemplating the direction in which he should take his future studies. This first speech is energetic and his words are those of a young man. As Faustus continues to reveal his dissatisfaction with the limits of human knowledge, rejecting each of the various scholarly disciplines available to him, the audience begin to become suspicious of his intentions. ...read more.


It is important that the audience can still relate to Faustus and fell that he is able to make conscious decisions about his fate, all be they the wrong ones. Whilst we continue to be thus engaged with Faustus, every move he makes in this scene creates high tension and greatly enhances the dramatic quality. About half way through the scene, we witness Mephastophilis providing a desperate Faustus with a dagger to kill himself (suicide being an offence to heaven and an appropriate means of getting to hell). Although the old man talks him out of it, the audience is still wracked with suspense, particularly whilst witnessing Faustus ponder feverishly as "hell strives with grace for conquest in [his] breast." However, Faustus soon reverts to his former, cowardly self when Mephastophilis threatens to tear his flesh. He instructs "sweet Mephastophilis" to punish the old man instead, ignoring his conviction that "my faith, vile hell, shall triumph over thee". Following this episode, Faustus asks for Helen of Troy as his paramour, and speaks to her, where he advised the scholars strictly not to. We feel that Faustus must realise he has made a fatal choice -he knows that the image he sees before him is a spirit- and watch in compelling revulsion as he kisses the devil. ...read more.


As Faustus begins to age, he too appears to become aware of the consequences of his actions. The amusing trick he plays on the horse-courser in scene ten plunges him into a despondant mood, forcing him to reflect upon his fate. He is now using his powers on even lower forms of entertainment than he did by making a mockery of the Pope in scene seven. He realises that he has done nothing special and is yet "but a man", which is enforced by the horse-courser's callous assumption that he is a "horse doctor". In Elizabethan times, such a profession would not have been highly respected, and Faustus is outraged that this is how he is being perceived. In conclusion, I would say that although the main dramatic events of the play occur either at the beginning or at the end, the middle scenes also have value and interest. Whilst Marlowe's main intention for the comic scenes was to provide amusement for the audience and some respite from the tension of the main plot, they also contribute significantly to some of the main themes of the play by comparing Faustus' behaviour to that of his contemporaries, and thus drawing our attention to the gravity of his actions. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Christopher Marlowe section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Christopher Marlowe essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Explore the presentation of Faustus in the opening scenes.

    3 star(s)

    In Faustus' speeches, Latin is often used. In Marlowe's time Latin was the language of the church and connected to the universities, the educated. Again this is further emphasising Faustus' knowledge but also the connection people at the time would have made would have been to church, where they would have heard Latin being used.

  2. Marked by a teacher

    "Marlowe is not only a great poet but also a great dramatist. His speeches ...

    The next line mirrors this idea of 'drawn out stresses' until the very last "perpetually". This word, the first one so far in his soliloquy to have more then one syllable (excluding "Faustus") is filled with venom and helps to emphasize the eternal nature of Faustus' punishment; the word comes

  1. Dr. Faustus Essay. In Christopher Marlows seventeenth century play, Faustus, hubris leads to ...

    I'faith that's just nothing at all. [Aside.] ... KNIGHT. Thou damned wretch and execrable dog, Bred in the concave of some monstrous rock, How darest thou thus abuse a gentleman? Villain, I say, undo what thou hast done! FAUSTUS.

  2. Free essay

    Compare the first and final soliloquies in Dr Faustus - is Faustus a hero ...

    Hell doesn't exist but he still doesn't repent here even though Hell is moments away. This following quote however could indicate an outside force is preventing Faustus from being able to repent, "O, I'll leap up to my God! Who pulls me down?"

  1. Reread the opening soliloquy of Dr Faustus. In what way does this establish Faustus' ...

    One is also taken back to Renaissance times, as not only is one reminded of the humanist attitude but the subjects which Faustus has studied such as, analytics, medicine, law and religion, are typical Renaissance subjects that, as Faustus often proves, were often learnt in their original texts.

  2. Comment on the relationship between the comic and serious material in Dr Faustus.

    Scenes where the majority of the content is serious but that contain some light comic touches only really appear at the beginning of the play (Scene three etc.) and then not again until much later on (Scene eight onwards). This could be because during Scene Three Faustus lusts after the

  1. In what ways and with what effects does 'Dr. Faustus' question the acquisition and ...

    on me, To give me whatsoever I shall ask, To tell me whatsoever I demand, To slay mine enemies, and aid my friends, And always be obedient to my will." 3 (iii. 91-8) The play shows how his scholarly status, broad-based knowledge and education have given him access to higher

  2. Faustus epitomises the dangers of knowledge without morality. Do you agree?

    He says he would be 'happy' if he 'might see hell,' a juxtaposition that would jar in the minds of a religious audience. I noticed that this is also seen in his skewed attitude towards good and evil: 'Despair in God, and trust in Beelzebub.'

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work