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Wagner announces that Faustus must be about to die because he has given Wagner all of his wealth. But he remains unsure, since Faustus is not acting like a dying man—rather, he is out carousing with scholars.
Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss:
Her lips sucks forth my soul, see where it flies!
Come Helen, come, give me my soul again.
Here will I dwell, for heaven be in these lips,
And all is dross that is not Helena!
Faustus enters with some of the scholars. One of them asks Faustus if he can produce Helen of Greece (also known as Helen of Troy), who they have decided was “the admirablest lady / that ever lived” (12.3–4). Faustus agrees to produce her, and gives the order to Mephastophilis: immediately, Helen herself crosses the stage, to the delight of the scholars.
The scholars leave, and an old man enters and tries to persuade Faustus to repent. Faustus becomes distraught, and Mephastophilis hands him a dagger. However, the old man persuades him to appeal to God for mercy, saying, “I see an angel hovers o’er thy head / And with a vial full of precious grace / Offers to pour the same into thy soul!” (12.44–46). Once the old man leaves, Mephastophilis threatens to shred Faustus to pieces if he does not reconfirm his vow to Lucifer. Faustus complies, sealing his vow by once again stabbing his arm and inscribing it in blood. He asks Mephastophilis to punish the old man for trying to dissuade him from continuing in Lucifer’s service; Mephastophilis says that he cannot touch the old man’s soul but that he will scourge his body. Faustus then asks Mephastophilis to let him see Helen again. Helen enters, and Faustus makes a great speech about her beauty and kisses her.
Now hast thou but one bare hour to live,
And then thou must be damned perpetually.
Ugly hell gape not! Come not, Lucifer!
I’ll burn my books—ah, Mephastophilis!
The final night of Faustus’s life has come, and he tells the scholars of the deal he has made with Lucifer. They are horrified and ask what they can do to save him, but he tells them that there is nothing to be done. Reluctantly, they leave to pray for Faustus. A vision of hell opens before Faustus’s horrified eyes as the clock strikes eleven. The last hour passes by quickly, and Faustus exhorts the clocks to slow and time to stop, so that he might live a little longer and have a chance to repent. He then begs God to reduce his time in hell to a thousand years or a hundred thousand years, so long as he is eventually saved. He wishes that he were a beast and would simply cease to exist when he dies instead of face damnation. He curses his parents and himself, and the clock strikes midnight. Devils enter and carry Faustus away as he screams, “Ugly hell gape not! Come not, Lucifer! / I’ll burn my books—ah, Mephastophilis!” (13.112–113).
The Chorus enters and warns the wise “[o]nly to wonder at unlawful things” and not to trade their souls for forbidden knowledge (Epilogue.6).
The final scenes contain some of the most noteworthy speeches in the play, especially Faustus’s speech to Helen and his final soliloquy. His address to Helen begins with the famous line “Was this the face that launched a thousand ships,” referring to the Trojan War, which was fought over Helen, and goes on to list all the great things that Faustus would do to win her love (12.81). He compares himself to the heroes of Greek mythology, who went to war for her hand, and he ends with a lengthy praise of her beauty. In its flowery language and emotional power, the speech marks a return to the eloquence that marks Faustus’s words in earlier scenes, before his language and behavior become mediocre and petty. Having squandered his powers in pranks and childish entertainments, Faustus regains his eloquence and tragic grandeur in the final scene, as his doom approaches. Still, asimpressive as this speech is, Faustus maintains the same blind spots that lead him down his dark road in the first place. Earlier, he seeks transcendence through magic instead of religion. Now, he seeks it through sex and female beauty, as he asks Helen to make him “immortal” by kissing him (12.83). Moreover, it is not even clear that Helen is real, since Faustus’s earlier conjuring of historical figures evokes only illusions and not physical beings. If Helen too is just an illusion, then Faustus is wasting his last hours dallying with a fantasy image, an apt symbol for his entire life.
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