Study Questions & Essay Topics
1. Is Doctor Faustus a Christian tragedy? Why or why not?
2. Scholar R.M. Dawkins once called Faustus “a Renaissance man who had to pay the medieval price for being one.” Do you think this is an accurate characterization of Marlowe’s tragic hero?
3. Discuss the character of Mephastophilis. How much of a role does he play in Faustus’s damnation? How does Marlowe complicate his character and inspire our sympathy?
Suggested Essay Topics
1. How does Faustus use the magical gifts that he receives? How are the uses to which he puts his powers significant? What do they suggest about his character or about the nature of unlimited power?
2. What is the role of the comic characters—Robin, Rafe, the horse-courser, and the clown, for example? How does Marlowe use them to illuminate Faustus’s decline?
3. When does Faustus have misgivings about his pact with Lucifer? What makes him desire to repent? Why do you think he fails to repent?
4. Is God present in the play? If so, where? If not, what does God’s absence suggest?
5. Discuss the role of Faustus’s soliloquies—particularly his speeches about the different kinds of knowledge in scene 1 and his long soliloquies in scene 12—in shaping our understanding of his character.
6. Is Faustus misled by the devils, or is he willfully blind to the reality of his situation?
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