Doctor Faustus Contents
- The Faust figure in European culture
- Social / political context
- Religious / philosophical context
- The theatrical context
- The texts of Doctor Faustus
- Prologue: Chorus one
- Scene one
- Scene two
- Scene three
- Scene four
- Scene five
- Chorus two
- Scene six
- Scene six, version B
- Scene seven
- Scene seven, version B
- Scene eight
- Scene eight, version B
- Chorus three
- Scene nine
- Scene nine, version B
- Scene ten
- Scene eleven
- Chorus four
- Scene twelve
- Scene thirteen
Necromancy a source of power
Faustus' sense of what magic and his pact with Lucifer may bring him is intimately linked to the notion of power. This appears in the play's very first scene:
Lord and commander of these elements.
Scene 1, 76-77
Power in the world
Faustus conceives of this power as extending over the known world, as in the passage at Scene 1, lines 121-132, beginning ‘As Indian Moors obey their Spanish lords' and ending at ‘That yearly stuffs old Philip's treasury'.
These lines are packed with allusions to travel, discovery, conquest, trade and acquisition. Faustus sees the inhabitants of all countries as being at the command of himself, Mephastophilis and Lucifer. There are references to numerous countries and continents: the Arab world (‘Indian Moors'), Spain, Germany (‘Almaine'), Lapland, Italy (‘Venice') and America.
The use of terms like ‘obey', ‘subjects', ‘serviceable', ‘guard us when we please' and the references to soldiers (‘Almaine rutters', ‘Lapland giants') refer to earthly power.
The passage also draws on Greek mythology: the Queen of Love is Venus, while the argosies and golden fleece allude to the story of Jason. Also, in the reference to beautiful ‘women or unwedded maids' and Venus' ‘white breasts', we see Faustus slipping into his characteristic sensuality.
A later expression of Faustus' desire for worldly power can be found in this speech, with its sense of extending his empire over the whole world and thus bringing it together under his control. He imagines transcending physical boundaries by making a bridge over the sea and joining Africa to Spain.
The passage opens with a typically extravagant image from Faustus, suggesting his eagerness to surrender to Mephastophilis and to attain the power he desires:
I'd give them all for Mephastophilis.
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 land continent to Spain
And both contributory to my crown –
The emperor shall not live but by my leave,
Nor any potentate of Germany.
Scene 3, 101-11
Pleasure in power
Finally, here is an example of Faustus revelling in his ability to call up great musicians and poets from the past for his own pleasure: again, the word ‘ravishing' is significant:
Of Alexander's love and Oenon's death?
And hath not he that built the walls of Thebes
With ravishing sound of his melodious harp.
Made music with my Mephastophilis?
Scene 7, 26-30
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