Doctor Faustus

by: Christopher Marlowe

Power and Ambition

Quotes Power and Ambition
Shall I make spirits fetch me what I please? Resolve me of all ambiguities? Perform what desperate enterprise I will? I’ll have them fly to India for gold, Ransack the ocean for orient pearl, And search all corners of the new-found world . . . I’ll levy soldiers with the coin they bring And chase the Prince of Parma from our land And reign sole king of all the provinces!

Faustus reveals one of the text’s main themes—power and ambition—when he responds to the Good Angel’s and Bad Angel’s arguments by declaring his desire for power and wealth. Despite the Good Angel’s attempts to persuade Faustus to look toward god and redemption, Faustus is blinded by the power, fame, and wealth that the Bad Angel reminds him he will have with Lucifer. In Faustus’s lines, he describes all the ways he can control the spirits to do what he wants, revealing his greedy and power-hungry side.

Had I as many souls as there be stars I’d give them all for Mephostophilis. By him I’ll be great emperor of the world, And make a bridge through the moving air To pass the ocean with a band of men; I’ll join the hills that bind the Afric shore And make that country continent to Spain, And both contributory to my crown; The Emperor shall not live but by my leave, Nor any potentate of Germany. Now that I have obtained what I desired I’ll live in speculation of this art Till Mephostophilis return again.

After Faustus declares his intentions of surrendering his soul for twenty-four years of living with power, Mephostophilis agrees to take his bargain to Lucifer. In these lines, Faustus responds to Mephostophilis’ agreement by describing how much power and wealth he will gain through this deal with the devil. When Faustus lists how far he will go with Mephostophilis’ help, he demonstrates the toxic effects of power and ambition on a man because he freely gives up his good soul for his blinding greed.

Bad Angel. Gave ear to me, And now must taste hell’s pains perpetually. Good Angel. O, what will all thy riches, pleasures, Pomps Avail thee now? Bad Angel. Nothing but vex thee more, To want in hell, that had on earth such store.

Here, the Good Angel and the Bad Angel discuss the fallout from Faustus’s greedy ambition and need for power. The Good Angel pretty much calls out Faustus, asking him how his wealth and fame will help him now that he faces eternal damnation. Even the Bad Angel comments on how, in hell, Faustus will regret his choices and wish for the grace of divinity that he had and freely gave away for short-lived power and fame. In this section, the theme of power and ambition comes full circle as Faustus’s fate is realized.