Q. Discuss Marlow’s use of language in this passage and how it contributes to the characterisation of Faustus.
Christopher Marlow was an educated man who rose from humble beginnings. He became one of the most famous writers of the Elizabethan period. His plays were written in blank verse, a skill greatly admired. (A100 Book 1 Reputations, P. 35) Doctor Faustus adapted from ‘The History of the Damnable Life, and Deserved Death of Doctor John Faustus’, is his most famous play. (Doctor Faustus the A text p 137). In this essay Marlow’s use of language to establish Faustus character will be discussed.
As the play unfolds Marlow reveals flaws in Faustus character. The word ‘damnation’ (line 60) in inverted commas gives emphasise. The sentence concludes ‘terrifies not him’. Christianity, the most prevalent religion during this period taught a fear of damnation. Faustus declares the opposite, revealing arrogance. Marlow further demonstrates ...view middle of the document...
A role reversal evolves with Faustus becoming the student, and Mephistopheles the teacher. A naivety in Faustus character is exposed.
'O, by aspiring pride and insolence. For which God threw him from the face of heaven’ (line 69). This sentence is divided by a comma drawing a division between Lucifer’s and God’s actions. Mephistopheles delivers the sentences as an accusation of Lucifer that could also be levelled at Faustus. The fact that Faustus cannot recognise this again demonstrates foolish and naive characteristics.
The shortest line in the passage ‘In hell’ (line 76) breaks the consistency of blank verse and immediately draws attention to it. Mephistopheles is offering Faustus proof of heaven and hell.
Faustus glibly responds ‘How come it then that thou are out of hell’ (line 77). Faustus reply indicates he has little understanding of the gravity of the situation he may be facing.
Two enjambements are used (line 79 – 80 and 81 – 82). These sentences flow on to show the passage of time as the words ‘eternity’ and ‘everlasting’ within them represent.
The final sentence of the act (line 83), said by Mephistopheles is divided into three using commas. ‘O Faustus’ to gain Faustus attention ‘leave these frivolous demands’, he tries to dissuade Faustus from continuing to practise necromancy. ‘Which strike a terror to my fainting soul’! Mephistopheles fear is literal in this context emphasised with an exclamation mark. Revealing Mephistopheles opinion, that Faustus is foolish. This comment also indicates a contradiction in Mephastophilis with the mention of his soul.
The passage reflects the theme of the entire play. The conflict between Faustus ambitions, and his human limitations. He holds Christianity responsible for enforcing these limitations.
Conflict is also apparent in the character of Mephistopheles. He acknowledges his damnation but with regret. Mephistopheles inner turmoil is reflected in Faustus as the play progresses.
Word count 545
The Open University (2008) AA100 Reputations Book, Milton Keynes, The Open University.
Doctor Faustus the A text (2003) Henry ling Limited, The Dorset Press, Dorchester