Aristotle coined the phrase 'fatal
flaw' - the idea that the protagonist
should have a flaw or make a
mistake. In the case of Faustus his
hubris is pride - desires to become a
God ("try thy brains to gain a deity")
Faustus wants to be more powerful than God - "to
practise more than heavenly power emits".
Faustus is a very arrogant character. Despite Mephastophilis
warnings he dismisses hell as a "fable" and is very
disrespectful to God - he humiliates the Pope, a man believed
to be God's representative on Earth' and ignores his chances
This is very different to Shakespeare's
protagonist Prospero - who is very respectful
of God's power - "I find my zenith doth
depend upon/A most auspicious star".
Victim of human flaw. Arnold
Schmidt "Most people have wanted
something so badly that, in moments
of desperation, they imagined they
would do anything to have it".
Faustus has been described to be an atheist, like
Marlowe, and the conflict between belief and
unbelief is a dominant theme in the play.
Faustus' disbelief in God is accompanied, for
a time, by a disbelief in hell. Mep. encourages
this disbelief in hell with the parial truth that
hell is the state of mind of being without God.
By the end of the play Faustus
believes in God but it is too late to
repent. In his last hour, Faustus see's
an angry, unforgivable God. Thomas
McAlindon argues that this image of
an angry God is an attack on the
unforgiving harshness of
contemporary Christian theology.
Power could be seen as
corrupting force. In the opening
he describes his aims to achieve
"honour and wealth" - he aspires
to plumb the mysteries of the
universe. These plans are awe
inspiring - they make his quest
for power seem heroic, which is
reiterated by the eloquence of
his opening soliloquy.
Yet once he achieves power
he uses his powers
dishonourably - using them
for his own gratification - to
humilate the pope and for
his own sexual fulfilments.
Suggesting despite being a
man 'glutted' with learning
and of a higher class he is no
different to the peasants,
notably Wagner and Robin,
who use their powers for
mischief and their own
Similarly with Prospero, once
he has power he treats
Caliban and Ariel very cruelly.
It could be argued that Faustus never
holds true power. He may believe
Mephistopheles is his servant -
rewarding him with kindness and
compliments "Had I as many souls as
there be stars/ I'd give them all for
Meph. is the source of never ending delight - he brings
him wealth, women, enables him to conjure up Helen of
Troy and shows him the wonders of the universe.
HOWEVER it may be Meph. in control! He
manipulates Faustus, and dissuades him
from repenting by either threatening him
or seducing him with his sorcerc and
F. only has his powers because of
Meph. This differs to Prospero who is in
total control - F. cannot save himself
whilst Prospero is in total control of the