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Remind yourself of Scene 12 (pages 59-63)

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Introduction

Christopher Marlowe's 'Dr Faustus' Remind yourself of Scene 12 (pages 59-63). What is the importance of this scene in the context of the whole play? At the beginning of Scene 12, Marlowe introduces a number of scholars and Faustus conferring about the 'beautifullest' lady in the world. After deciding this is Helen of Troy, the scholars ask Faustus to conjure the 'peerless dame of Greece'. Faustus does not need much persuasion from the scholars to conjure Helen of Troy and once she appears, although she does not speak, her presence 'passeth over the stage'. The scholars, amazed at the 'pride of Nature's works', exit with Helen as an old man enters on stage. In line 24 of the scholar's speech, we see much irony when-after practising necromancy-the scholar states he is happy and 'blest'. Marlowe introduces the Old Man to represent Christian faith. He does not need a name for he is only representational. ...read more.

Middle

Throughout Faustus' speech however, we see much irony as he describes Helen who will evidently give Faustus his soul again. Obviously this is ironic for the audience as he has already sold his soul to Lucifer. This is continued in line 86 when Faustus comments that 'heaven be in these lips'. Of course, beauty is a major aspect of Helen of Troy's character, but is ironic for the viewers as it will not be heaven for Faustus, but hell; in eternity. Faustus also compares himself to Greek heroes who fought for Helen's beauty from lines 88-100-evidently implying he feels as superior to Greek hero such as Paris. When looking at the language and structure Faustus uses throughout Scene 12, his speech to the scholars-which is very blunt and arrogant-is extremely different of that of his description of Helen of Troy which is an extremely beautiful and elegant portrayal of Helen who is 'fairer than the evening air'. ...read more.

Conclusion

Although we are told at the beginning of the play that Faustus is a doctor of theology, his attitude and loyalty towards this faith is extremely corrupted when faced with Helen of Troy. Helen represents all the weaknesses in Faustus' character; greed, sex, money and power. Faustus finds comfort in the kiss from Helen, but at the same time, he seals his fate as she 'sucks forth' his soul. Overall, the penultimate scene of 'Dr Faustus' is an extremely important scene for both Faustus and the audience. Still attempting to change Faustus' mind about hell, Marlowe introduces the Old Man to represent Christian faith and persuade Faustus to 'call for mercy' once again. For the audience, the scene is the final scene before Faustus finally gives his soul to Lucifer. Even though the audience are aware Faustus does 'surfeit upon cursed necromancy' and does not call for forgiveness from God, the tension in the scene builds up when Faustus is given the opportunity to 'call for mercy' if he wants. The scene is extremely important and leads to the final scene and the final stage of Faustus' story. Hayley Cook L63 ...read more.

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