Summary of Faustus in His Study:
Faustus is introduced in his study performing a soliloquy; Act I, scene i, lines 1 through 60: During the soliloquy, Faustus discloses a desire for knowledge of all disciplines, and to live and die in Aristotle’s work. Faustus considers being a physician for the gold. Faustus considers this with a rhetorical question, is it not my prescriptions that “thousand desperate maladies been cured,” thousand desperate illnesses and sicknesses, ailments and diseases have been cured?
Faustus concludes that a physician is merely a mortal man; he ponders immortality, and bringing the dead back to life: “Then this profession were to be esteemed,” held in esteem, valued and respected. Faustus decides to say goodbye to physics and medicine.
Faustus considers the study of the law, which “fits a mercenary drudge,” a person who works merely for money or other material reward. Faustus decides law is “Too servile and illiberal for [him],” befitting a slave, unworthy of a free man. Law is base, vulgar, rude and sordid.
Faustus decides “When all is done, divinity is best.” The word “divinity” is the quality of being divine and godlike, Deity and Godhead, a Supreme Being, God. Faustus thinks that when all is considered, being a Supreme Being is best. Faustus reads a Latin verse from 1 John 1:8, “Si pecasse negamus, fallimur, et nulla est in nobis veritas,” which means “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and there is no truth in us.” Faustus then asks, “Why, then belike” why then try to resemble divinity? Faustus says, “Divinity, adieu.”
Faustus considers “These metaphysics,” subjects lying beyond or studied after physics, “of magicians.” As well, “negromantic,” black magical and concerns with raising the spirits of the dead, “are heavenly. “Faustus elates about his potential “world of profit and delight,” “Of power, of honor, and omnipotence is promised to the studious artisan!” Faustus elates about his potential “world of profit and delight,” “Of power, of honor, and omnipotence is promised to the studious artisan!” Faustus asks his “brains to get a deity.”
Analysis of Faustus in His Study:
During the last lines, the Chorus draws back the curtain at the rear of the stage, disclosing Faustus in his study; Act I, scene i, lines 1 through 60: Doctor Faustus performs a soliloquy he speaks to himself. Faustus says, “Settle thy studies Faustus,” figure out what you wish to study (1). Faustus you must “Begin to sound the depth of that thou wilt profess” begin to measure the extent of your capacity, depth of intellect, understanding and comprehension (2). Faustus admits he has already “commenced,” taken a degree (3). Faustus desires to “be a divine in show,” a diviner, a prophet and seer in action to view and be noticed (3). I want to be “level at the end of every art,” aim at the goal of every discipline or study (4). As well, I wish to “live and die in Aristotle’s works” (5).
“Aristotle” was born in 384 B.C. and died in 322 B.C. Aristotle was a Greek philosopher, a teacher of Alexander the Great, and a learned student of Plato (5). “Aristotle” wrote on many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, politics, government, ethics, biology and zoology (5). “Aristotle” was the first to create a comprehensive system of Western philosophy, encompassing morality and aesthetics, logic and science, politics and metaphysics.
Faustus refers to Aristotle’s book “Sweet Analytics,” title of two treatises on logic (6). Faustus believes it was “thou hast ravished me,” the book has transported in spirit or with some strong emotion, entranced and enraptured, captivated me (6). Faustus recall a Latin proverb, “Bene disserere est finis logices,” the objective of logic is to argue well (7). He asks, “Is to dispute well logic’s chiefest end,” is to argue well logics most important goal? (8) This logic “Affords this art no greater miracle,” is to argue well logics greatest miracle? (9) “Then read no more, [Faustus] has attained that end,” Faustus does not need to study logic for he has already attained the goal, to argue well (10). He wonders if “A greater subject fitteth Faustus wit,” a more difficult subject may fit my intellect (11). Faustus decides, “Bid on kai me on farewell” being and not being Greek goodbye, “and Galen come,” Greek authority on medicine in 2nd century A.D., may come in, enter my mind (12).
“Be a physician Faustus, heap up gold,” be a physician Faustus, it will make me rich (13). As well, “be eternized for some wondrous cure,” immortalized for some incredible cure (14). Faustus considers another Latin proverb, “Summon bonum medicinae sanitas,” health is the greatest good of medicine (15). That proverb is translated from Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics. “The end of physic,” medicine, “is our body’s health,” the goal of medicine is the health of our body (16). “Why Faustus hast thou not attained that end,” a rhetorical question, Faustus knows that he already has a healthy body, and therefore achieved that goal (17) Faustus continues the rhetorical question by asking “Are not thy bills,” prescriptions, “hung up as monuments,” are my prescriptions not already displayed as monuments (18) My prescription have allowed “whole cities [to escape] the plague” (19). The “plague” is a deadly infectious disease caused by the enterobacteria (19). The “plague” is carried primarily by rodents and spread to humans via fleas, the disease is notorious, due to the unrivaled scale of death and devastation it brought (19). As well, Faustus concludes with another rhetorical question, is it not my prescriptions that “thousand desperate maladies been cured,” thousand desperate illnesses and sicknesses, ailments and diseases have been cured? (20)
“Yet art thou still but Faustus and a man,” yet are you not still just Faustus, a mere mortal man (21). Faustus wonders if he “Could’st thou make men to live eternally,” couldn’t you make men to live forever? (22) As well, couldn’t Faustus “being dead raise them to life again,” bring the dead back to life? (23) If Faustus could make man live eternally and rise men from the dead, “Then this profession were to be esteemed,” held in esteem, valued and respected (24). Faustus decide to say, “Physic farewell,” goodbye medicine! (25) “Where is Justinian,” Roman emperor and authority on law? (25)
“Justinian” was born in the year 483 and died 565 (25). “Justinian” ordered the compilation of the Institutes (25). Included in the compilation of the Institutes is the following Latin legal phrase, Si una eademque res legatur duobus, alter rem, alter valorem rei, et cetera, if one thing is willed to two persons, one of them shall have the thing itself, the other the value of the thing, and so forth (26-27). Also included, “A petty case of paltry legacies,” of little importance and insignificant matters of petty, worthless rubbish of a small amount, meager (28). Another legal Latin phrase includes “Exhereditare filium non potest pater, nisi,” a father cannot disinherit his son unless (29). Those phrases are “the subject of the Institute” (30). For the Institute, is the “universal body of the law!” (31)
The study of the law “fits a mercenary drudge,” a person who works merely for money or other material reward, hireling. A person whose actions are motivated primarily by personal gain, often at the expense of ethics (32). Law “aims at nothing but external trash,” takes into account only outward form, as opposed to inner nature or spirit, of anything of little or no worth or value, worthless rubbish and dross (33). Faustus decides law is “Too servile and illiberal for [him],” befitting a slave, unworthy of a free man, belonging to the serving class or to the lower orders. Law is not befitting or of the nature of a free man, not pertaining to or acquainted with the liberal arts. Law is without liberal culture, unscholarly, ill-bred, ungentlemanly, unrefined. Law is base, vulgar, rude and sordid.
Faustus decides “When all is done, divinity is best” (35). The word “divinity” is the quality of being divine and godlike, Deity and Godhead, a Supreme Being, God (35). Faustus thinks that when all is considered, being a Supreme Being is best. He begins to view “Jerome’s Bible,” the Latin translation made by St. Jerome (36). As Faustus reads Jerome’s Bible, he comes across a Latin verse “Stipendium peccati mors ets. Ha! Stipendium et cetera (37), which means “The reward of sin is death” (38). Faustus thinks “That’s hard” (38).
He continues reading the Latin verse from 1 John 1:8, “Si pecasse negamus, fallimur, et nulla est in nobis veritas” (39), which means “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and there is no truth in us” (40-41). However, Faustus fails to read the following 1 John 1:8 verse: “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Mistakenly, Faustus then asks, “Why, then belike” why then try to resemble divinity? (42) “We must sin, and so consequently die” (42-43). It is then that Faustus recalls, “Ay, we must die an everlasting death” (44). Faustus asks “What doctrine call you this,” what doctrine is this? (45) The doctrine reads, “Che serà, serà” (45). That doctrine translates into “What will be, shall be! Divinity, adieu!” (46) “Divinity, adieu,” divineness and godhood, Deity and Godhead, a wish of formal civility in the parting of friends, Good-bye and farewell! (46)
Faustus considers “These metaphysics,” subjects lying beyond or studied after physics, “of magicians” (47). As well, “negromantic,” black magical and concerns with raising the spirits of the dead, “are heavenly” (48). Faustus concludes that he wants “Lines, circles, letters, characters” (49). Those are the things “that Faustus most desires” (50). Faustus elates about his potential “world of profit and delight” (51), “Of power, of honor, and omnipotence is promised to the studious artisan!” (52-53) An “artisan” is an expert (53).
Faustus ponders in wonder all the “things that move between the quiet poles shall be at [his] command” (54-55). The reference to the term “quiet poles” means motionless North and South poles (54). Faustus believes that through metaphysics, magic, he shall command all things between the motionless poles. Faustus expand his hypothesis to include “emperors and kings are but obeyed in their several provinces,” emperors and kings are only obeyed within their kingdom (55-56). Faustus believes his “dominion [will] exceed in this,” magic (57). Faustus believes his dominion shall “Stretcheth as far as doth the mind of man,” stretch as far as does the mind of man, infinity (58). Faustus states “A sound magician is a demi-god,” half-god (59). Now “tire [Faustus] brains to get a deity,” work brains to call into being and produce a deity! (60)
Marlowe, Christopher. Doctor Faustus. Ed. by Barnet, Sylvan. New York: Penguin Group, Inc., 1969.
Steane, J.B. Marlowe: A Critical Study. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1964.
Oxford English Dictionary Online. 2nd ed. 1989. Lane Library, Ripon College, Ripon, WI.