How much would one man be willing to give up for earthly power? Would he forfeit his soul? In Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, the protagonist Doctor Faustus forfeits his soul to Lucifer in exchange for 24 years with Lucifer’s powerful servant Mephistophilis under his control. Marlowe wrote the play in the 16th century, a time when religion was important in society (DelVecchio web). Marlowe focuses on this topic in the play, especially with Faustus. “Doctor Faustus is a play about religion” (DelVecchio web). He shows the moral decay of Faustus after accepting a deal with the devil. Doctor Faustus goes against the religious values of his time period and makes a deal with Lucifer for power. Marlowe makes it apparent through the questionable use of this power that Faustus is not a man that should control it. Marlowe uses the character Faustus to warn others of the seven deadly sins.
One of the most apparent sins Marlowe emphasizes in Faustus is his greed. His greed is the reason he is able to overcome his feelings of guilt and accept Lucifer’s deal. Faustus openly admits how he will use his newfound power to satiate his greed when he says, “I’ll have them fly to India for gold, / Ransack the ocean for orient pearl, / And search all corners of the new-found world / For pleasant fruits and princely delicates” (Marlowe 5). Marlowe shows that even though Faustus pretends his reasons are noble, his real concerns are riches and luxuries. These riches and luxuries are more important to him than his soul or a chance at an eternal life in heaven. According to Mebane, “The ‘delight’ he experiences in his worldly pleasures has the bewitching power to delude him into seeing the things of this world as more valuable, more generally real, than those of the next” (127).
This delight also leads him into another sin, gluttony, which Marlowe uses him to display. Although gluttony is often looked at as eating to excess, it also involves selfishness, and Faustus is undeniably selfish. “From a moral point of view, Faustus’s will is viciously egocentric” (Brockbank 112). Faustus cares only about himself and how he can better his life. He obtains powers that could be used in a number of beneficial ways. Faustus, however, never uses them to help another person.
Faustus actually often uses his powers in the opposite way. “There is something magnificent in Faustus, but his magnificence is corrupt because it is founded on egoism rather than on love and service.” (Barnet xviii). When he has opportunities to help, he works against or even harms others. This harm leads to his next sin, wrath. The wrath of Faustus is best seen in his encounter with the knight Benvolio. Faustus says to the demons under his control, “Go, horse these traitors on your fiery backs, / And mount aloft with them as high as heav’n; / Thence pitch them headlong to the lowest hell . . .” (Marlowe 41). Marlowe shows that Faustus is unable to control his anger and need for...