Doctor Faustus Scene 6
Within this scene is a new character, Robin by name, who steals one of Faustus’ books of black magic. Marlowe is a bit clever with names here since Robin essentially means a mischievous character. How typical. This play never seems to lack any kind of bawdiness in any of its scenes; this scene has a couple examples of it as young Robin wishes to conjure up the young women of the village and have them dance naked before him. He also speaks of having the wife of his master “born to bear me” or have a child by him. While Robin says he can read, I seriously doubt that and wonder if he will try to conjure up anything later which might backfire on him.
In this scene, Mephastophilis takes Faustus to Rome, a city which is bursting with sin and vice. As Mephastophilis describes the city to Faustus, the reader imagines not some Renaisannce city (though the cannons in the text are the only hint its still in that time period) but the old Roman Rome, the Rome of Julius Caesar. This is due to the usage of the term seven hills; it is only in classical literature that one hears of the seven hills of Rome. There are plenty of other classical themes in this scene that also suggest so. One cannot help but laugh in this scene as Faustus interrupts the pope and the cardinal of Lorraine and steals his food and drink and hits the Pope without being seen.
Well it does seem like poor young Robin can read and speak Latin too, by all accounts! This is indeed another comic scene where Robin and Rafe make fun of a vintner and cast spells on him. I think Robin wasn’t quite so sure he could actually conjure up a real devil to haunt the vintner because he says, “What shall I do? Good devil, forgive me now, and I’ll never rob thy library more”. The ending of that scene is really hilarious as Robin mocks Mephastophilis and then gets turned into a ape and his companion into a dog.
Within this scene, Faustus meets with the Emperor and is bidden to perform magic tricks. The emperor’s desire to have Alexander the Great resurrected for him. Faustus explains he can only resurrect their ghosts. This reminds me that it was only Christ and his disciples who raised men from the dead to life. Christ is also the Lord of Life; this would make sense why Faustus, using the devil’s power, can only conjure up dead men’s ghosts. Of course, Marlowe throws in a comic element into the serious scene where the knight has a pair of antlers upon his head. It seems don’t mess around with a necromancer who’s prone to silly things.
Enter yet another comic scene as Faustus sells his horse to a stranger. It is indeed rather odd that Faustus would tell him that the horse cannot get in water and yet he does not say why. The horse courser’s song is rather silly I think and would definitely get a few laughs from the audience. Once again Faustus speaks to himself as he thinks it is time to die and so he goes back home and sleeps. I would think I would be dying if I hadn’t slept for 8 weeks. It is so comical that the horse convinced the stupid horseman to go into a pond with him and then it turned into a hay bale!
This is a rather mundane scene compared to the rest. In this scene, Faustus and Mephastophilis are brought before a duke and duchess and asked to bring forth grapes for the duchess for it is the dead of winter. This Faustus does easily enough and it may seem like pure magic if it weren’t for the honest and very true statement Faustus makes. I was rather surprised to find this true scientific fact in the 1600’s but yet science was advancing at a rapid rate. I almost half expected the grapes to be poisoned or become some silly prop but yet he brought real grapes.
This scene has some interesting symbolism which aids the decision making of Faustus. Faustus is hard pressed with the choice of heaven and hell and while Mephastophilis tries to aid him in ending his life on a dagger, there enters two characters, each of which represent a Christian life and a wanton life. The first to come into the scene is a ghost of Helen who could be understood as the symbol of wanton lust, of Hell. The Old man, who enters later, is the symbol of Christianity or piety. While the one seems lush and desirous for sensual pleasure, the other is old, uncouth, but yet wise and loving. It is interesting that Marlowe uses these symbols. This contrast also reminds me of a poem Tolkien once wrote: “ All that is gold does not glitter,/Not all those who wander are lost;/ The old that is strong does not wither,/Deep roots are not reached by the frost.” While the old man doesn’t shine or look pleasant, I can assure you, his wisdom is far better.
This is a scene of intense drama as Faustus is dying and deciding whether or not to return to Christ. This is indeed sad as Faustus does not recant his devilish ways and perishes to Hell. This ending reminds me of something that would be in a medieval morality play since the chorus entreats the audience much as a preacher would, to examine their ways and call upon Jesus for salvation. Was there time for him to repent? Perhaps so, no sinner is too bad for Christ to reject if they truthfully repent and turn to Him for salvation. Yet it does not seem that Marlowe wanted to have Faustus repent if he was going to be used as an example not to turn after the devil’s ways and instead turn to Christ.
Sir Walter Raleigh The Nymph’s reply to the Shepherd
This poem is a reply to Marlowe’s poem and a very satirical reply at that. The Nymph argues that she would only marry him were certain things true. Her first argument is if shepherds were truthful then she would marry him. She moves on to talk about how time destroys everything and how only eternal young love could induce her to marry the shepherd. In each verse, the lines of Marlowe’s poem is turned on its head and rejected. Considering that a nymph is replying to a humble shepherd’s call to love, it is really no wonder why she denies him.
Shakespeare sonnet 18
This sonnet of Shakespeare is addressed to a lover whose beauty he compares to summer. This poem is very hopeful as he states that the love of his lover shall never fade or grow undimmed. This is indeed very different from normal sonnets where the author or speaker never receives his love and is pained by love. It seems that Shakespeare does use a rhyme scheme and not blank verse. The speaker also seems to be holding on to this hope by his fingernails when he says that “nor shall death brag thou wander’st in thy shade”. His love shall only live as long as this poem survives.
Ah here is the pitiful state of the lover when crossed in love. It seems that the world looks down upon him when in this lowly state. His howling at heaven is unheard; it is my belief that doesn’t ever happen. The poet is right when he says that when crossed in love, the one who hurts envies others who have their joy. I know exactly how he feels. His joy is only full when he thinks of her but that is only a fleeting pleasure; how true! His last line is very true; how much better is being in love than being like a king. That reminds me of a Patsy Cline song: “A Poor Man’s Roses”. She sung about how she’d rather take a poor man’s love than a rich man’s riches.