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In what ways and with what effects does 'Dr. Faustus' question the acquisition and the use of power?

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Introduction

In what ways and with what effects does 'Dr. Faustus' question the acquisition and the use of power? 'Dr. Faustus' is a play which deals with the two greatest powers prevailing in the mind of humanity, those of good and evil. It presents the audience with an account of the natural human tendency for transgression and warns against individualism with the message that every human has to serve somebody, be it God or the Devil. It is tragic because it presents a human figure greatly respected by others and how his potential to live in eternal bliss in the realm of heaven is lost by his own pride and insolence, similar to the story of Lucifer's fall from heaven into Hell. The character of Dr. Faustus is essentially tragic because he fails to see the obvious flaw in his pact with the devil. However, when Faustus is persuading himself into thinking that the advantages of his rewards outweigh giving his soul to the Devil, he reads a verse from the Bible in scene one: 'Si peccasse negamus, fallimur, et nulla est in nobis veritas'1 (i. 41), its not until later on in the play that we find out that it may have been Mephastophilis who prevented him from reading the full verse about repentance and the forgiveness of sins. ...read more.

Middle

36) rides the horse into the water and finds the horse has vanished. This scene seems to have no real deeply moral message, apart from the obvious warning of succumbing to curiosity of danger or transgression. This seems ironic to me as the story is all about the succumbing of Faustus to the temptation of twenty-four years of voluptuousness in return for his soul. The vanishing horse is like the vanishing of Faustus' soul and fantasies of powers when he is taken into Hell and left with nothing, it also echoes the possibly psychological and physical trickery of Mephastophilis when he persuades Faustus to sign the deal knowing he does not realize the full extent of what he is signing. The scene does serve some comical purpose and is similar to scene seven when he uses his power to wreck havoc on the pope and all his friars. Due to the distinctively divided nature of the play many have described 'Dr. Faustus' as puzzling in structure and have often criticized the middle section. It is not known how much of the middle section is Marlowe's own work and how much was written by another hand. W. W. Greg writes in his essay 'The Damnation of Faustus': 'I do not believe that as originally written it differed to any material extent from what we are able to reconstruct from a comparison of the two versions in which it comes down to us.' ...read more.

Conclusion

When Faustus asks "How comes it then that thou are out of hell?" 13 (iii. 76) Mephastophilis explains: Why this is hell, nor am I out of it: Think'st thou that I, that saw the face of God, And tasted the eternal joys of heaven, Am not tormented with ten thousand hells, In being deprived of everlasting bliss? 14 (iii. 78-82) Power corrupts and I think that the way Faustus uses his powers for his own gain, and falls tragically because of it shows this notion clearly. This message has been used time and time again when man tries to step up and challenges the supremacy of God and I found one instance particularly striking in the lyrics of the contemporary songwriter, Bob Dylan: Well, God is in his heaven And we all want what's his But power and greed and corruptible seed Seem to be all that there is" 15 This warning of corruption from power and the idea of challenging God or nature is still relevant today, maybe more than ever, with the rise of unstoppable political leaders with seemingly god-like powers and constitutions rapidly replacing religion. These kinds of warnings and insights into human nature, regarding particularly the use and abuse of power, are timeless and will stand as valuable lessons for anyone willing to listen. After all, we all have our good angel and our bad angel. ...read more.

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