Faustus's Desire To Be Superhuman Leads Him To Be Inhuman

1002 words - 4 pages

"Faustus's desire to be superhuman leads him to be inhuman."Over the course of the play, Dr Faustus uses superhuman powers granted to him by a devil for his own gain. It could be argued that due to his very human desires (greed, lust, revenge etc) that he isn't superhuman, but inhuman instead. The words "superhuman" and "inhuman" are similar words in what they describe, but ultimately they refer to different things. Superhuman is defined as: "above or beyond what is human; having a higher nature or greater powers than humans have " [1] whereas inhuman is defined as: "lacking qualities of sympathy, pity, warmth, compassion, or the like; cruel; brutal" [2]. This differentiates the two significantly because superhuman describes being 'above' humanity (almost godlike) whereas inhuman refers to not having qualities which make someone human.From the very start of the play, Faustus has believed himself to be better than the rest of humanity. "A greater subject fitteth Faustus' wit" shows his arrogance and his desire to be above the rest of humanity. Since Faustus does actually perform superhuman acts in the play (e.g. turning invisible, making people 'dumb'), it could be argued that he achieves his desire of being above humanity in a way. However, this this does not necessarily mean he is inhuman. It could be argued that what he does with those powers proves that he is actually very human. Most of the power that he uses is to pull pranks on people instead of his hugely ambitious plans to rule the world and have control over everything that he said at the start of the play ("All things that move between the quiet poles shall be at my command"). Faustus seems to be a character who wants immense power but when given that power, he doesn't know what to do with it. This could show that he is unequivocally human because of his lack of knowledge of such powerful forces which would prove why he didn't do anything world-shattering during those twenty four years.On the other hand, it could be argued that actually his desires and his thoughts are what makes him inhuman. Faustus's initial ambitions in the first few scenes of the play are very inhuman. For example, he wants to be better than death itself and be immortal: "Art thou still but Faustus and a man " . Additionally, he rejects subjects such as law, medicine and physics opting instead for black magic. He even goes as far to say that "necromantic books are heavenly" and that religion will only grant us an "everlasting death" which was the complete opposite of the views held in 16 th Century England. Therefore, these radical views could be interpreted as inhuman due to their abhorrent nature. Over the course of the play, Faustus seems to lose his humanity as he becomes more and more acquainted with the devils. He doesn't have any sort of compassion toward anyone but himself and he certainty only thinks about himself. The...

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