Dr. Faustus

Dr. Faustus - Self Projections of a Torn Conscience: The...

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Self Projections of a Torn Conscience: The Good and Bad Angels in Doctor Faustus We watch Donald Duck contemplate playing hooky; an angel version of Donald cajoles the Duck to arise and dress, while a devil-Donald encourages the Duck to stay in bed, for another minute or two (or however long he desires). Donald’s struggle between morality and selfish desires as manifested by an angel and devil perched atop either shoulder is a common allegory because of its universal relevance for all of humanity. Faustus, protagonist of Christopher Marlowe’s play Doctor Faustus , confronts his own conflicting angel and devil consciences – or Good Angel and Bad Angel, as Marlowe deems them – throughout the progression of his fateful story. The apparitions of the Good and the Bad Angel represent Faustus’ own implicit indecisiveness of which path, virtuous or self-serving, to repeatedly choose. Appearing in times of only guilt or regret – or crucial choices – on Faustus’ behalf, the contrasting Good and Bad Angels serve to establish Faustus’ own wavering opinions, and further, choices. A further exploration into Faustus’ petulant attitude about God (a perceived mutual rejection of each other), and the sinful ways in which Faustus conducts himself, will clarify and make definitive the Good and Bad Angels as merely Faustus’ own creations and projections – representative of no one but himself. Deeming conventional religion unjust and scholarly work unsatisfactory, Faustus is incredibly aroused by the power that a mastery of magic has to offer. Although he is a doctor, he is unable to resurrect the dead, or provide an antidote to man’s inevitable mortality as “Yet art thou still but Faustus and a man” (p. 5). He seeks to surpass the capabilities of man, dismissing them as impeding limitations associated with being but a lowly mortal. Upon conclusively (and excitedly) settling on a pursuit of magic, the good
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and bad angels (introduced as the Good Angel and the Evil Spirit) make their first appearance by way of visitation to Faustus, previously alone in his study. The first to address him, the Good Angel attempts to thwart Faustus’ undertaking of magic by citing
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This essay was uploaded on 04/10/2008 for the course ENGL 195 taught by Professor Wright during the Spring '08 term at Beloit.

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Dr. Faustus - Self Projections of a Torn Conscience: The...

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