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Almost There

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Greenlee 1
Aiesha Greenlee
Mrs. Parker
English 102
08/11/2010
Christopher Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus:
Knowledge is Powerful or Fatal

Everyone has heard of the old saying, “knowledge is power” which is true in some cases. There is some knowledge that should not be obtained. This is known as the forbidden knowledge. It is described as books or any other information that is restricted. Christopher Marlowe’s, “Dr. Faustus,” is a prime example of taken forbidden knowledge. There is a reason why this knowledge is forbidden. The consequences of using the knowledge are usually fatal. Nothing good comes out of it. Throughout the drama of “Dr. Faustus,” the main character experiences his rise with the forbidden knowledge but this hero also is lead to a fatal damnation because of the journey he chooses. Faustus plan to learn the power of black magic also known as the forbidden knowledge leads the tragic hero to his path of corruption and soon to be damnation to hell. The decision for Faustus is merely based on Faustus own character flaw of pride. “Considers logic…but notes that disputing well seems to be the only good of logic…considers medicine…he has achieved great renown as a doctor already…considers law…but dismisses law
Greenlee 2 as to petty…religion and theology seems to offer wider vistas and finds the Bible’s assertion ‘the reward of sin is death’ and unacceptable doctrine (sparknotes). After dismissing all these studies, he choose magic because he believe that this is a “world of profit and delight/ of power, of honor, and omnipotence,/ is promised to the studious artisan (Marlowe, Dr. Faustus 1.1) The use of forbidden knowledge in “Dr. Faustus” is used throughout the entire play. In the third scene of act one, you get and understanding of why Faustus decision on black magic is of forbidden knowledge: MEPHISTOPHILIS. That was the cause, but yet per accidens; For, when we hear one rack the name of God, Abjure the scriptures and his savior Christ, We fly, in hope to get his soul; Nor will we come, unless he use such means Whereby he is in danger to be damned. Therefore the shortest cut for conjuring is stoutly to abjure all godliness, And pray devoutly to the prince of hell (Marlowe, Dr. Faustus 1.3).
With his study of necromancy, he gains twenty-four years of time to experience and learn the forbidden knowledge when he sells his soul to Lucifer. This knowledge of dark arts is all fun and appealing at first. “The main characters in ‘Doctor Faustus’…strive to attain knowledge and understand that they have been forbidden and this eventual gaining of knowledge leads to a dramatic downfall (articlemyriad). Faustus use his new found powers to do multiple things like conjure up dead spirits and play practical jokes on people. “When he performs magic, the audience gets the impression that
Greenlee 3 he is a practical joker…” (pinkmonkey). One joke that Faustus do in the drama is playing tricks on the Pope of Rome during a dinner. He and Mephistophilis are invited to the place of emperor, Charles X, because Faustus now has developed fame from the power. He conjures up Alexander the Great for the Emperor. When a knight does not believe Faustus and powers, Faustus grows horn on the Knights head. Faustus later on plays a joke on a horse-courser by giving him a horse that will turn into straw when it touches water. Faustus laughs and says, “Faustus hath his leg again, and the Horse-courser a bundle of hay/ for his forty-dollars (Marlowe, Dr. Faustus, 4.5).
The last usage of Faustus power is when he produces Helen of Greece, who to the scholars is “the admirablest lady that ever lived” (Marlowe, Dr. Faustus, 5.1). Before he does that, he also produces grapes out of season for the pregnant Duchess of Vanholt. Even with all his fame he has from his new found powers, “Faustus never accomplishes the lofty goals he initially sets for himself (bookrags). In the beginning of the drama, you can already predict what type of person Faustus is. He is obviously very arrogant. “Til swollen with cunning or self conceit,/ His waxen wings did mount above his reach (Marlowe, Dr. Faustus, Prologue). During this time period of twenty-four years, Faustus does change but not for the best. Instead of the confident man he shown to be in the beginning, he starts to waver back and forth. He wonders if he should repent for his sins or not. By the end of the drama, “his soul has been tarnished to the point where Faustus feels he cannot repent (bookrags). You can tell when Faustus starts to feel like this when he kisses Helen of Greece. “Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss-/ [Kisser her.]/ Her lips

Greenlee 4 suck forth my soul: see, where it flies!-/ Come, Helen, come give me my soul again (Marlowe, Dr. Faustus, 5.1). Dr. Faustus was doomed to fall when he set his sights out to learn the forbidden knowledge of magic. This dark magic is not supposed to be studied at all because it goes against God and the Spiritual realm. Just like Adam and Eve eating from the Tree of Knowledge, Faustus meets a similar fate which is to never dwell in the heavens above. With this power of his, he lived a life of sin but in the end, he still did not obtain the goals he set out in the beginning. The black magic changed him from the inside out. As he grew old into this study of black magic, so did his heart. He could not even bring his self to repent in the end. To go after forbidden knowledge is to have a set fate of damnation.

Greenlee 5
Works Cited
Smith, Nicole. “The Forbidden Quest for Knowledge in Doctor Faustus and Paradise Lost.”
Article Myriad. 2010. Web. November 9, 2010.
<http://www.articlemyriad.com/91.htm.>
“Major Characters.” Book Rags Notes. 2000-2009. Web. November 9, 2010. <http://www.bookrags.com/notes/fau/CHR.htm>
“Topic Tracking: Duality of Men.” Book Rags Notes. 2000-2009. Web. November 9, 2010. <http://www.bookrags.com/notes/fau/TOP1.htm>
SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on Doctor Faustus.” SparkNotes.com. SparkNotes LLC. 2003.
Web. 8 Nov. 2010.
<http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/doctorfaustus/citing.html>
SparkNotes Editors. “Dr. Faustus.” SparkNotes.com. SparkNotes LLC. 2003. Web. 8 Nov. 2010. <http://pd.sparknotes.com/lit/doctorfaustus/>…...

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