Aa100 Feb 2016 Tma 01 2. Marlowe’s Use of Language in This Passage and How It Contributes to the Characterisation of Faustus.

This extract (Marlowe, 2003 [1604], Act 1.Scene 1. ll. 72-112) begins as Faustus, disillusioned with his studies in law, medicine and theology, realises that however much knowledge he amasses, he will never transcend the limitations of the human condition.

The Good and Bad Angels, whose first appearance opens this extract, are personifications in the tradition of the medieval morality plays with which the audience will have been familiar (Pacheco, 2008, pp49-51). They represent the choice Faustus faces, and also personify his conflicting mind states, using language whose contrasting styles will provide a clue to his character. The Good Angel speaks firmly and didactically in the imperative (ll.72-75), using loaded words: ‘damnèd’, ‘tempt’, ‘wrath’, ‘blasphemy’, and the string of words in 1.1.74, ‘heap’, ‘heavy’, and ‘head’, reminiscent of heavy breathing, suggest to us that Faustus will perceives the advice to focus on salvation as oppressive. By contrast, the Evil Angel’s use of the imperative seems more enabling, encouraging Faustus to aim for the goal to which he is principally attracted: ‘Be thou on earth as Jove is in the sky, Lord and Commander of these elements’(1.1.78-79)

We have been shown a Faustus in two minds as to what to do. Yet in the very next line, Faustus himself speaks, and makes it clear by his language which path appeals to him more, and why: ‘How am I glutted with conceit of this!’ As the Good Angel had predicted, he cannot, and does not even try to, resist the lure of his fantasies, in language that, as Pacheco points out (2008, p.42), constantly reinforces the image of greed, of the grasping for material wealth (‘gold’, ‘orient pearl’, ‘pleasant fruit and princely delicates’, as does his repetition of the phrase ‘I’ll have the …’ .

This phrase serves another purpose too. Repeated use of phrases in which Faustus imagines directing others to bring his dreams to fruition help to create an impression of intellectual laziness as well as...