Notes on Dr. Faustus Themes

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Dr. Faustus Topic Tracking: Duality of Man


Duality of Man 1: Faustus is a doctor of divinity. But despite his great knowledge about the nature of God, he finds the dark powers of magic alluring. Ironically, it is his dissatisfaction with the limits of his knowledge of God that tempts Faustus to seek knowledge forbidden by God.

Scene 1

Duality of Man 2: Even as Faustus rejects the study of the academic disciplines, he realizes the limitations of man, especially the inevitable reality of death. In the bible, he finds that the reward for sin is death. For Faustus, it is difficult for him to reconcile the reality of death with his vague theological notions of eternal life; thus, he rejects divinity altogether.

Duality of Man 3: The Good Angel and the Evil Angel represent the voices of good and evil. As a literary device, the contrasts of the two angels reveal Faustus’ internal struggles and the conflict between choosing what is right (soul or conscience) and following his fleshly (body) desires.

Scene 5

Duality of Man 4: Faustus begins to waver, as he hears a voice telling him to turn to God again. But Faustus flips the condition on its head by convincing himself that God does not love him, therefore, he will serve the god that truly loves him—his own appetite. Faustus’ fleshly desires overcome his spiritual struggles.

Duality of Man 5: Just when Faustus seems to be focused on wealth and earthly desires, he continues to come back to supernatural matters. After having signed over his soul and body in blood, the first question he asks Mephistophilis is about hell. Even though Mephistophilis confirms the reality of hell, Faustus refuses to believe in it.

Scene 6

Duality of Man 6: Faustus contradicts himself many times. Before, he rebukes Mephistophilis for regretting having been cast out of heaven. This time, he accuses Mephistophilis of depriving him of the joys of heaven. Within a short time span, Faustus’ soul moves back and forth between repenting before God and rejecting God.

Scene 13

Duality of Man 7: Here, there is not only a distinction between man’s body and soul, but even in the way the two are treated. The devils can afflict a person’s body, but they cannot touch the soul. The Old Man knows this, and therefore, he is confident that even though he might be persecuted in body, his soul will be able to stand against the devils if he remains strong in his faith.

Scene 14

Duality of Man 8: Faustus admits that his life of sin has taken its toll on both his body and soul. Not only is his body old and weary, but his soul has been tarnished to the point where Faustus feels he cannot repent.

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