Now hast thou but one bare hour
And then thou must be damned perpetually.
The stars move still, time runs, the
clock will strike,
The devil will come, and
Faustus must be damned.
O I’ll leap up to
my God! Who pulls me down?
See, see where
Christ’s blood streams in the firmament!
drop would save my soul, half a drop: ah my Christ—
rend not my heart for naming of my Christ;
will I call on him—O spare me, Lucifer!
Earth, gape! O no, it will not harbor
You stars that reigned at my nativity,
influence hath allotted death and hell,
draw up Faustus like a foggy mist
entrails of yon laboring cloud,
you vomit forth into the air
My limbs may
issue from your smoky mouths,
So that my soul
may but ascend to heaven.
. . .
God, if thou wilt not have mercy on my soul,
Let Faustus live in hell a thousand years,
hundred thousand, and at last be saved.
Cursed be the parents that engendered
No, Faustus, curse thy self, curse Lucifer,
hath deprived thee of the joys of heaven.
My God, my God, look not so fierce on
. . .
gape not! Come not, Lucifer!
I’ll burn my
These lines come from Faustus’s final
speech, just before the devils take him down to hell. It is easily
the most dramatic moment in the play, and Marlowe uses some of his
finest rhetoric to create an unforgettable portrait of the mind
of a man about to carried off to a horrific doom. Faustus goes from
one idea to another, desperately seeking a way out. But no escape
is available, and he ends by reaching an understanding of his own
guilt: “No, Faustus, curse thy self, curse Lucifer, / That hath
deprived thee of the joys of heaven.” This final speech raises the
question of why Faustus does not repent earlier and, more importantly,
why his desperate cries to Christ for mercy are not heard. In a
truly Christian framework, Faustus would be allowed a chance at
redemption even at the very end. But Marlowe’s play ultimately proves
more tragic than Christian, and so there comes a point beyond which
Faustus can no longer be saved. He is damned, in other words, while
he is still alive.
Faustus’s last line aptly expresses the play’s representation
of a clash between Renaissance and medieval values. “I’ll burn my books,”
Faustus cries as the devils come for him, suggesting, for the first
time since scene 2, when his slide into mediocrity
begins, that his pact with Lucifer is about gaining limitless knowledge,
an ambition that the Renaissance spirit celebrated but that medieval
Christianity denounced as an expression of sinful human pride. As
he is carried off to hell, Faustus seems to give in to the Christian
worldview, denouncing, in a desperate attempt to save himself, the
quest for knowledge that has defined most of his life.