The Ignorance and Arrogance of Dr Faustus

Something peculiar piqued my interest upon reflection on
Marlowe’s Dr Faustus: the seeming obliviousness
of Faustus. It was strange to me that although this man was well aware of the
Biblical teachings, the religious implications and theological foundations of
Christian doctrine, he tended to eschew the veracity of these paradigms whilst
in pursuits of necromancy and deviant practices. Being cognizant and knowledgeable
of the Biblical facts that angels and demons exist, he nevertheless chooses to believe
that “hell’s a fable” (5.125). Furthermore, with the physical presence of
Mephastophilis, Lucifer, the seven summoned personified deadly sins, and the
good and bad angels, Faustus still defies beyond clear and plain evidence of
the reality of hell and damnation, but instead, in sheer arrogance, accepts
these manifestations of devils and demons to be the result of his scholarly
powers through consultations of necromantic and black magic books. This schism
between the obvious realities of demonic and angelic powers and the deranged
state of Faustus’ reasoning portrays the extent of his corruption. Even when
Mephastophilis (an authority of the matter, a witness and participant of the rebellion)
professes to Faustus of the truths intrinsically evident to him, Faustus still
refutes the claims. We see this in lines 60-82 of Scene Three. Is Faustus so blinded
by his obsession for power over spirits that he forgoes the obviously dire consequences
that concern the fate of his soul? Does the arrogance of his hardened will cause
him to warp the rationality of his understanding? Indeed, even after the good
angel’s repeated calls for Faustus to repent, Faustus cannot relent. (Although
the Lucifer, Mephastophilis and co. threaten to rip him to pieces, surely the
good angel did not lie to Faustus in stating that “God will pity thee” (5.188),
and that it is “never too late” (5.253) for repentance of errors done. Ultimately,
Faustus’ ignorance towards the Biblical cruxes on which he based his journey
into ‘dark arts’ and his arrogance to accept and atone become the mechanisms
that fashion his dreadful demise. Also, twenty four years for a soul is a rip


Marlowe, Christopher. “The Tragical History of Dr Faustus”.
Norton Anthology of English Literature. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt. New York: W.W.
Norton and Company, 2012. Print.


John Dieu

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One Response to The Ignorance and Arrogance of Dr Faustus

  1. Athena says:

    I don’t think ignorance is the right word. I got the impression that because Faustus was at times worried or frightened about his decision, instead of repenting (which he didn’t seem to believe would work) he instead became determined to be committed to it to the point of arrogance. He wanted to be blind to the consequences. Hence his behaviour with the pope, and other times where he behaved in an ignorant manner.

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