image imageLiterature Guides

Doctor Faustus Quotes and Analysis

Quotes and Analysis

The reward of sin is death? That’s hard.
Si peccasse negamus, fallimur, et nulla est in nobis veritas.
If we say that we have no sin,
We deceive ourselves, and there’s no truth in us.
Why then belike we must sin,
And so consequently die.
Ay, we must die in everlasting death.
What doctrine call you this? Che sara sara:
What will be, shall be! Divinity, adieu!
These metaphysics of magicians,
And necromantic books are heavenly!

These words are spoken by Faustus towards the end of his opening soliloquy. With this speech, he contemplates multiple fields of study one by one. Starting with logic and moving to medicine and law. A true knowledge seeker, he arrives at theology and begins to read from the Bible and the New Testament, where he quotes Romans and the first book of John.

He reads, “the reward of sin is death,” and that “if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and there is no truth in us.”  The logic of this is that everyone is guilty of sinning, and that all sins lead to death – making it appear that Christianity promises death, resulting in Faustus giving into his own fatality.

“What will be, shall be! Divinity, adieu!” However, he fails to read the following line in John, which reads, “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Why this is hell, nor am I out of it.
Think’st thou that I, who saw the face of God,
And tasted the eternal joys of heaven,
Am not tormented with then thousand hells?
In being deprived of everlasting bliss?
O Faustus, leave these frivolous demands,
Which strike a terror to my fainting soul.

What, is great Mephistopheles so passionate
For being deprived of the joys of heaven?
Learn thou of Faustus manly fortitude,
And scorn those joys though never shalt possess.
(3.76 0 86)

In this exchange, Faustus is willfully blind. He listens as Mephistopheles explains to him how horrible hell really is, and then proceeds to dismiss his warnings, urging that he have manly fortitude. The dialog depicts the devil in an odd light. We understand that he is committed to the damnation of Faustus’s soul and that Faustus will denounce God and pledge his allegiance to Lucifer.

However, he also seems to be urging him to reconsider selling his soul by saying, “leave these frivolous demands, which strike a terror to my fainting soul.” There appears to be a parallel between the things the Mephistopheles has experienced and also the experienced of Faustus.

Ah Faustus
Now hast thou but one bare hour to live,
And then thou must be damned perpetually.

The stars move still, time runs, the clock will strike,
The devil will come, and Faustus will be damned.
O I’ll leap up to my God! Who pulls me down?
See, see where Christ’s blood streams in the firmament!
One drop would save my soul, half a drop: ah my Christ –
Ah, rend not my heart for naming my Christ;
Yet, will I call him – O spare me, Lucifer!

Earth, gape! O no, it will not harbor me.
You starts that reigned at my nativity,
Whose influence hath allotted death and hell,
Now draw up Faustus like a foggy mist
Into the entrails of yon laboring cloud,
That when you vomit forth into the air
My limbs may issue from your smoky mouths<
So that my soul may but ascend to heaven.

O God, if thou will not have mercy on my soul,

Let Faustus live in hell a thousand years,
A hundred thousand, and at last be saved.

Cursed be the parents that engendered me:
No, Faustus, curse thy self, curse Lucifer,
That hath deprived thee of the joys of heaven.

My God, my God, look not so fierce on me!

Ugly hell gape not! Come not, Lucifer!
I’ll burn my books – oh, Mephistopheles.

These lines are spoken in Faustus’s final speech, right before the devils take his soul and descend into hell. It is, without a doubt, the most dramatic moment in the play.

Marlowe calls upon his finest rhetoric to paint an unforgettable picture of the mind of a man who knows the horrors that await him. Faustus shifts from one concept to the next, desperately trying to find a way out. However, there is no escape available to him – he soon realizes and accepts his own guilt “No Faustus, curse they self, curse Lucifer, that hath deprived thee of the joys of heaven.”

This speech raises the question as to why Faustus did not repent sooner, and most importantly, why his desperate pleas for Christ’s mercy are not heard. In the Christian faith, he would have been given a chance for redemption right up to the very end, but the play proves to be more tragic than Christian as Faustus reaches the point where he can no longer be saved.