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Doctor Faustus is a play that was written by Christopher Marlowe in the 17th century. The play is based on a story of a man who sold his soul to the devil in exchange of power, wealth and knowledge. Marlowe’s play was published ten years after the death of Marlowe and at least twelve years after its first performance. The play was later played twenty five times by the admiral’s men between 1594 and 1597. It is recorded that actual devils used to appear on stage during the performances and some people were driven mad. This is believed to have made Edward Alleyn who was the main actor of admiral’s men to spend the rest of his life in charitable activities.
In the play Faustus is a popular, respected man who is fed up with the knowledge of science, mathematics and religion. His plan is to learn some magic and use it in healing people and his other personal interests. Cornelius and Valdes are his friends who advice him to seek magic power in the black art. Mephastophilis is one of the servants of the devil who helps Faustus to contact the Lucifer who is the king of the devils. Faustus asks Mephastophilis to tell Lucifer that he wants to sell his soul to him for twenty four years in exchange of knowledge and power. Afterwards Faustus thinks of repenting in order to save his soul from the devil but Mephastophilis blinds him with numerous gifts convincing Faustus to continue serving the devil (Shepherd-Barr 97). Meanwhile, Faustus’s servant named Wagner picks some of Faustus magic presses a clown himself and name it robin. When Faustus agrees to sign the contract between him and Lucifer with blood, immediately homo fuge a Latin name appears on his arm which mean o man fly. Again he is showered with gifts by Mephastophilis until he accepts to serve Lucifer who is the devil as his master for twenty four years. Even though devil is the root of this play God is also mentioned severally in many occasions within the play by Faustus, Mephastophilis the devil’s servant and other people as well.
God is mentioned at first by Faustus when he is not sure of working for the devil and he want to repent in order to save his soul from Lucifer and seek forgiveness from God. Faustus regrets of having sent Mephastophilis to the devil to ask for the contract. He is afraid that he will not only sell his soul to the devil but live in hell forever. He was warned by Mephastophilis of the horror and pain in hell but he didn’t listen, all he wanted was to satisfy his dream by acquiring knowledge and power from Lucifer at any price. He regrets the idea of consulting his friends Valdes and Cornelius who directed him to the black art which led to all his problems. Faustus was wrong to think that he was looking for an answer and acquired life imprisonment instead (Marlowe 67).
Mephastophilis also mentions the idea God when he tries to blind Faustus with plenty of gifts to prevent him from rejecting God after he has signed the contract with Lucifer. Mephastophilis gives Faustus a book with the magic and spells that he has ever wanted to learn. He also answers all the questions asked by Faustus concerning the nature of the universe but refuses to answer when he is asked the creator of the universe. This creates doubts in Faustus mind and understands that God is the only creator of the earth has power over everything in the whole world. This time Mephastophilis refuses to soothe Faustus with rich gifts and instead he warns him of the plagues that would follow him when he tries to break the covenant they created with Lucifer. Faustus has no otherwise rather than to serve the devil for twenty four year as agreed in their covenant.
God presence is also seen when Faustus decides to use his magic powers to go to Rome to disturb the court’s pope. He distracts the pope in court by making himself invisible and goes ahead stealing the food kept in a banquet and continues by boxing pope’s ear when there are proceedings in court. Faustus becomes famous all over Europe and at one time he is invited in court of the German empire to defend pope against Charles V. when Charles V says he want to see Alexander Faustus conjure a picture that impresses him very much. Faustus uses his power to punish knight for scoffing at him by making his head sprout antlers. Faustus is bored by the magic power he has because it didn’t change his life as he thought it would. In the other hand, Wagner who was his servant uses the magic power he got from him to make people laugh. He is later warned by Mephastophilis to stop or else he is transformed to an animal. Faustus also uses his powers again in the court of duke vanholt and later casts spell on them (Lee 64).
God’s presence is again seen when two angels appear to Faustus and begs him to quit working with the devil and repent, he all over sudden becomes and drives them away. Faustus is scared to break the covenant the made with Lucifer because he is afraid of the consequences that might follow him as described by Mephastophilis. He even admits that collaborating with the devil was the worst mistake he has ever done in his whole life. The two angels that appeared to him signified the kingdom of God and it was ready to take Faustus back if he was ready to repent and stop working with magic powers. This shows how the kingdom of God gives a person many chances unlike the devil’s that only takes advantage of weak mind. Faustus realizes that the devil was there to use him and not the vice versa.
When the twenty four years were almost over it was time to close the deal or renew it. Faustus’s powers were gone and he starting becoming weak to a point that people saw that he was dying. People begun disserting him and he asked Mephastophilis to bring him Helen who was the most beautiful lady from the ancient world and uses her to bring people back to him. Amongst the crowd an old man comes and begs Faustus to repent but he refuses and sends him away. This shows how persistent God is when he is trying to get back his lost sheep. One night before the deal expired Faustus accepted to repent and asked some scholar to pray for him. Later in the night the devil came and carried his soul to hell. The next day the scholar found the dead body of Faustus and begun organizing his funeral (Häuser 25).
In this play God’s presences is indirectly seen in several scenes trying to acknowledge Faustus through people. Faustus is very stubborn although he at last decides to repent. The play has brought the involvement of the bad and the good, the magic and supernatural, and also the dividing nature of human being. This is used to bring out clear difference between the kingdom of God and that of the devil.