Dr. Faustus Themes Part One

Joe Brown
Mind Map by Joe Brown, updated more than 1 year ago
Joe Brown
Created by Joe Brown about 6 years ago
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Mind Map on Dr. Faustus Themes Part One, created by Joe Brown on 10/06/2015.

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Dr. Faustus Themes Part One
  1. Atheism
    1. 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")
      1. Faustus wants to be more powerful than God - "to practise more than heavenly power emits".
        1. 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 of repentance.
          1. 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".
          2. 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".
        2. Faustus has been described to be an atheist, like Marlowe, and the conflict between belief and unbelief is a dominant theme in the play.
          1. 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.
            1. 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.
        3. Power
          1. 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.
            1. 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.
              1. 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 gratification.
              2. Similarly with Prospero, once he has power he treats Caliban and Ariel very cruelly.
              3. 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 Mephistopheles"
                1. 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.
                  1. 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 demons.
                    1. 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 play.
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