this the face that launched a thousand ships,
burnt the topless towers of Ilium?
Helen, make me immortal with a kiss:
sucks forth my soul, see where it flies!
Helen, come, give me my soul again.
will I dwell, for heaven be in these lips,
all is dross that is not Helena!
These lines come from a speech that
Faustus makes as he nears the end of his life and begins to realize
the terrible nature of the bargain he has made. Despite his sense
of foreboding, Faustus enjoys his powers, as the delight he takes
in conjuring up Helen makes clear. While the speech marks a return
to the eloquence that he shows early in the play, Faustus continues
to display the same blind spots and wishful thinking that characterize
his behavior throughout the drama. At the beginning of the play,
he dismisses religious transcendence in favor of magic; now, after
squandering his powers in petty, self-indulgent behavior, he looks
for transcendence in a woman, one who may be an illusion and not
even real flesh and blood. He seeks heavenly grace in Helen’s lips,
which can, at best, offer only earthly pleasure. “[M]ake me immortal
with a kiss,” he cries, even as he continues to keep his back turned
to his only hope for escaping damnation—namely, repentance.