History of Doctor Faustus (ca. 1592-93)
Things to Consider:
- Norton Overview
- Alternate Scene 9 and ending(s)
Characteristics of the Morality Play:
- Historical Context: Humanism and the Renaissance
- cf. Luther, Galileo, Machiavelli, Francis Bacon
- Ambition and Overreaching
- Forbidden Knowledge
- "Good" and "Bad" Angels: What is their role?
- Does Faustus get all that he desires?
- Does he get all that he deserves?
Terms to Know:
- the chorus/narrator
- pageant of the Seven Deadly Sins
- Temptation, Salvation, Damnation
- the entertaining, comical Vice (or devil)
- concern with ultimate spiritual issues
- crude, farcical humor grafted on to solemn story
Discussion Questions (See Part
- dramatic irony
- How does the Chorus function here? Explain the opening
- Why does Faustus reject Divinity in favor of Necromancy
- What is the Delphian oracle (1.143)?
- Explain the offer Faustus makes to Lucifer. (See also 527-28).
- Why does Lucifer want Faustus's soul?
- What does "Consummatum est" mean (5.74)? Why is this
- Where is Hell?
- Why can't Mephastophilis procure a wife for Faustus?
- Why is calling on Christ contrary to his promise to Lucifer?
Other Discussion Questions:
- Why does Faustus reject Logic/Philosophy (1.8-10)?
- Why does he reject Medicine/Physics (1.18-27)?
- Why does he reject Law (1.34-36)?
- Explain lines 1.121-23. What historical phenomenon is
- How does Wagner "triumph" over the other two students?
- What is the significance of lines 3.8-10?
- Why does Faustus call men's souls "vain trifles" (3.62)?
- Why does Wagner hire the clown?
- How is Wagner able to conjure devils?
- Why does Faustus's blood congeal (5.62)?
- What does "Homo, fuge!" mean (5.77)?
- Why does Faustus not care about giving his soul to Lucifer?
- Why does Faustus want to repent?
- Why "can't" he?
- Why do the Seven Deadly Sins appear?
- Why does the sight of the Seven Deadly Sins feed Faustus's
- What does Faustus do once he procures the power he seeks?
- How does the Cardinal of Lorraine explain the pranks Faustus
- Could this explanation be considered ironic? Explain.
- What is the purpose of this scene? How does it relate
to Scene Six?
- Who is Actaeon? Explain Faustus's comments about him
- Does Faustus really repent? If so, shouldn't he be
- Explain: "Was this the face that launched a thousand
ships,/And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?" (12.81-82).
- Why does Faustus want to kiss Helen? What does
this desire reveal about him?
- Why can't Faustus be saved?
- What moral/lesson does the Chorus impart at the end?
Other Discussion Questions:
- What is the purpose of this scene?
- What do horns signify (6.14-16)?
- Why do Faustus and Mephastophilis go to visit the Pope?
- What do the bell, book, and candle signify (7.81)?
- How can Robin summon Mephastophilis?
- Why does Faustus appear before Charles V (the Emperor)?
- Why is the horse-courser upset with Faustus? Has
Faustus treated him fairly? Explain.
- Explain the discussion of the grapes.
- How was Helen "raped" (12.19)?
- What is the purpose of the Old Man at this point?
- How do the scholars explain Faustus's strange behavior?
- Explain lines 80-85.
- Explain lines 89-94. Is Faustus asking God for
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