Marlow's Use of Language in Dr Faustus

Q. Discuss Marlow’s use of language in this passage and how it contributes to the characterisation of Faustus.

Christopher Marlow was an educated man who rose from humble beginnings.   He became one of the most famous writers of the Elizabethan period.   His plays were written in blank verse, a skill greatly admired. (A100 Book 1 Reputations, P. 35)   Doctor Faustus adapted from ‘The History of the Damnable Life, and Deserved Death of Doctor John Faustus’, is his most famous play. (Doctor Faustus the A text p 137).   In this essay Marlow’s use of language to establish Faustus character will be discussed.

As the play unfolds Marlow reveals flaws in Faustus character. The word ‘damnation’ (line 60) in inverted commas gives emphasise.   The sentence concludes ‘terrifies not him’.   Christianity, the most prevalent religion during this period taught a fear of damnation.   Faustus declares the opposite, revealing arrogance.   Marlow further demonstrates Faustus arrogance. In line 61 a classical reference is used.   ‘For he confounds hell in Elysium’.   Indicating that Faustus does not fear hell.   His arrogance is again revealed in line 63, ‘But leaving these vain trifles of men’s souls’. Suggesting that one’s soul is too unimportant for Faustus to worry about.  

The use of an antitheses in (line 64), ‘Lucifer thy lord’.   The term normally applied to God, suggests that Faustus considers Lucifer equal to God.   Marlow is implying Faustus thinks he comprehends the most important theological questions of the day.

The tone of the passage changes when Mephistopheles recounts his experience of being banished from heaven and dammed.   A role reversal evolves with Faustus becoming the student, and Mephistopheles the teacher.   A naivety in Faustus character is exposed.

'O, by aspiring pride and insolence. For which God threw him from the face of heaven’ (line 69).   This sentence is divided by a comma drawing a division between Lucifer’s and God’s actions. Mephistopheles...