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MonkeyNotes-Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe
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Epilogue--Chorus

Summary

The Chorus informs the audience that Faustus, like the branch of a tree that might have grown straight, has died prematurely. Faustus, the devotee of Apollo, the god of wisdom, has died before his learning could truly mature: “(B)urned is Apollo’s laurel bough/ That sometime grew within this learned man.” The Chorus poignantly laments that “Faustus is gone.” The audience is invited to “regard his hellish fall” as a consequence of his error in wasting his abilities and his knowledge on evil goals. The Chorus says that Faustus’ life teaches a moral lesson, namely, that “forward wit” should not dare to do more than what “heaven permits.”


Notes

The Epilogue spoken by the Chorus underlines the premature and tragic death of Faustus: “Cut is the branch that might have grown full straight.” The next line, “And burned is Apollo’s laurel bough,” alludes to the destruction that Faustus’ desire for knowledge has caused. The final lines are a weighty warning against those who would go beyond mankind’s natural limits. The Epilogue, therefore, reinforces the moral of the entire play. The Chorus laments the senseless waste of Faustus’ life. Some critics have remarked that the Epilogue spoken by the Chorus is trite and insincere. This interpretation may be due to an overall lack of consistency and purpose in the Chorus of this play.

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MonkeyNotes-Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe
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