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Doctor Faustus


Scenes 10–11

Summary Scenes 10–11

There is no sign that Faustus himself is aware of the gulf between his earlier ambitions and his current state. He seems to take joy in his petty amusements, laughing uproariously when he confounds the horse-courser and leaping at the chance to visit the Duke of Vanholt. Still, his impending doom begins to weigh upon him. As he sits down to fall asleep, he remarks, “What art thou, Faustus, but a man condemned to die?” (10.24). Yet, at this moment at least, he seems convinced that he will repent at the last minute and be saved—a significant change from his earlier attitude, when he either denies the existence of hell or assumes that damnation is inescapable. “Christ did call the thief upon the cross,” he comforts himself, referring to the New Testament story of the thief who was crucified alongside Jesus Christ, repented for his sins, and was promised a place in paradise (10.28). That he compares himself to this figure shows that Faustus assumes that he can wait until the last moment and still escape hell. In other words, he wants to renounce Mephastophilis, but not just yet. We can easily anticipate that his willingness to delay will prove fatal.