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Overreachers, A Look At Doctor Faustus And Satan

1264 words - 5 pages

Free will creates in angels and humanity the capacity to becoming an overreacher (Bakeless, 34). The inherent over-reaching quality leads Faustus of Christopher Marlowe’s “The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus’’ and John Milton’s ‘‘Paradise Lost’s Satan’’ both to hell (Boas and Marlowe, 23). However, if the “hell” concept was eliminated from these texts, both Faustus and Satan might still be considered overreachers who are ambitious and exercise their free will in detrimental ways. This is due to, “Before man is death and life, evil and good, that which he shall choose shall be given to him” (Marlowe). In Paradise Lost, it is seen that Satan had to exercise his own will, and this was in contrary to the will of God, “thou against his thy will/ chose freely” (Eliot, 8). All creatures of God who fall in Paradise Lost are “sufficient to have stood, though free to fall (Fluchere and Henri, 32).

Faustus, a man who is brilliant, tends to have reached the natural knowledge limits. He is an early sixteenth century scholar in the German city of Wittenburg (Gregg, 5). He is fiery, arrogant and has a thirst for knowledge. Faustus is an intellectual, who is familiar with issues such as demon astrology and summoning that is usually not taken to be an academic subject by the current universities. Faustus makes the decision of selling his soul to the devil in exchange for knowledge and earthly power, as well as twenty-four years of an additional life. He goes on to waste his time on low tricks and self-indulgence. Faustus is seen to be the key character in the play, which consists of few characters that are seen to be truly developed. Mephastophilis is the devil who appears at the summoning of Faustus', as well as the devil that has the role of serving Faustus for the twenty-four years in his pact.
In Marlowe’s play, Mephastophilis seems to have layers to his personality. He openly admits that ‘‘separation from God is anguish,’’ and is capable of pain and fear. But he is known to be a joyously evil, who participates at every level in the destruction of Faustus. Not only does Mephastophilis influence Faustus to go on to sell his soul; but he as well encourages him to waste his twenty-four years of power. It is also seen that the Servant to Faustus steals the books of Faustus, to learn how he can summon demons on his own. He tends to be concerned about the fate of his master at the end of the play. Inner turmoil of Faustus suggests contradicting advice to him at major points. The characters reflect the Christian belief that humans have guardian angels assigned to them. But in this play, the devil has the capacity of influencing the human thoughts.

In Christian context, Lucifer is sometimes believed to be another name of Satan. Some traditions believe that Lucifer was the name of Satan before the fall from Heaven, while the Catholic Church Fathers held that Lucifer was not the proper name of Satan, but instead a word indicating “the beauty and...

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