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MonkeyNotes-Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe
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Act II, Scene 2

Summary

Standing near the window of his study, Faustus looks up at the sky. He feels miserable at being deprived of the joys of heaven. Mephistophilis tells him that man is more glorious than the heaven that was made for him. The Good and Bad Angels fight for and against Faustus’ repentance. He despairs, as his heart is unable to repent. Only thoughts of pleasure have prevented him from taking his own life. He questions Mephistophilis about astrology. Their discussion is abruptly interrupted when Faustus asks who made the world and Mephistophilis refuses to answer. Faustus dismisses him harshly.

The Good and Bad Angels resume their struggle for Faustus’ soul. Lucifer, Beelzebub and Mephistophilis enter. Lucifer asserts that Faustus has no hope of salvation. Faustus vows not to think of heaven or of God. Lucifer causes the Seven Deadly Sins (Pride, Covetousness, Wrath, Envy, Gluttony, Sloth and Lust) to appear in order to entertain Faustus. Each in turn speaks to Faustus. Lucifer promises Faustus all kinds of delights in hell and promises to send for him at midnight.


Notes

Again Faustus’ resolution fails as he discovers how little he has gained in exchange for the treasure he has thrown away. Typically, he blames Mephistophilis for this. Faustus may still repent, but he cannot. He thinks of the pleasures open to him, but finds little satisfaction in the replies to his questions about the universe. At the mention of God, Mephistophilis leaves, with Faustus’ sincere but ineffectual curse. This time the Good Angel has the last word. Lucifer’s appearance in person shows that Faustus is in definite danger of escaping back to God: the bargain signed in blood is not as binding as they would have him believe.

Faustus spends his time with Mephistophilis chiefly in discussions about “divine astrology,” rather than in pleasure. But Mephistophilis cannot provide Faustus with the answers to his questions about the universe, just as he could not provide him with a wife.

When Faustus violates his bond by calling upon his savior (Christ), Lucifer, with his attendant devils, appears to rebuke him. Then Lucifer diverts him with the pageant of the seven deadly sins. This pageant is a device derived from the medieval morality plays, but here the personified sins have lost their cautionary nature.

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