Notes on Dr. Faustus Themes

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Dr. Faustus Topic Tracking: Sin & Repentance

Scene 1

Sin & Repentance 1: Faustus reads a bible passage on sin and its consequence, death. If all men sin and must die, thinks Faustus, then it is best to live on earth as one desires. By casting aside the bible to embrace books on magic, Faustus rejects the prospects of salvation in order to invite the punishment of sin, death.

Sin & Repentance 2: The Good Angel continually encourages Faustus to repent and seek salvation. The Evil Angel tries to turn Faustus away from God by keeping him interested in magic. Throughout the story, the two angels battle for Faustus' soul.

Scene 3

Sin & Repentance 3: Mephistophilis says he came mainly because he heard Faustus blaspheme the name of God. When he hears men say such things, he comes opportunistically to claim their souls to hell. The quickest way to be damned, Mephistophilis confesses, is to forswear the Trinity. Faustus is unaffected. Instead, he dismisses hell as an old wives tale, and makes a bargain with the devil, thereby rejecting God (salvation) in the most conspicuous way.

Scene 5

Sin & Repentance 4: Faustus considers contrition, prayer, and repentance, but eventually rejects them. As he has turned away from thoughts of heavenly things, he wonders about the kingdom of hell and why Lucifer would want his soul. Mephistophilis explains that Lucifer wants to enlarge his kingdom. When Faustus tries to sign the deed in blood, the wound on his arm congeals, which makes him pause and consider whether to continue. But he decides to go through with it, and with a sense of defiant irony, says "It is finished," the same words Jesus says on the cross before he dies (John 19:30). Faustus has essentially killed his spiritual self for the glories of the earth. An inscription on his arm appears, warning Faustus to flee, but Mephistophilis distracts Faustus with a promenade of worldly things.

Scene 6

Sin & Repentance 5: Faustus comes close to repentance when he calls on the name of Christ, but Lucifer interferes and reminds Faustus to keep his promise of not bringing up anything related to God. Then, Faustus is interrupted from thoughts of repentance by the Seven Deadly Sins.

Scene 11

Sin & Repentance 6: As Faustus realizes that he is near death, he begins to think again about whether he can be forgiven. With the thought that Jesus forgave the thief even on the cross, Faustus falls asleep.

Scene 13

Sin & Repentance 7: Faustus takes a step toward repentance, but still hesitates to fully trust in the mercy of God. Before he can fully repent, Mephistophilis comes to stop him. Faustus misses another chance and instead, repents to Lucifer for turning from his vow. In another ironic gesture, Faustus damns the Old Man for trying to turn him away from Lucifer.

Sin & Repentance 8: The Old Man stands in contrast to Faustus. Even as devils come to torment him, the Old Man remains steadfast in faith. He heeds the words that appeared on Faustus' arm-Man, fly! He flies unto the arms of God.

Scene 14

Sin & Repentance 9: As the time draws near for his departure from the world, Faustus regrets living his life as he did. Even at the last hour, he wishes he was a beast or a drop of water so as to avoid eternal damnation.

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