Monday November 19, 2012 – DRAMA LECTURE
Time is inexorable in Faustus. When we are in life, we don’t know if we are at the
beginning, the middle of the end.
Endings give meaning to our lives because they give them shape.
Marlowe’s characters tend to be homeless, all places for them are alike -> linked to man’s
interstate. Faustus wants to find the limits of Hell, while Mephistopheles says he is
always in Hell. Anthropologists have said that humans do violence in a way of marking
boundaries. Faustus wants to give his life a clear and fixed shape.
What is Faustus seek? What does he desire? He seeks the limit of the 24 years to live. It
is a limit he places and reiterates. Faustus fears that going to hell is an eternal condition,
there is no end to it. In Act II, Scene 1 he says “No end is limited to damned souls”.
Faustus is a radical consumer.
Each of Faustus’ farewells is an act of destruction (Faustus turns away, leaves behind
medicine, astronomy… After doing this they no longer exist)
Fashioning the self becomes a creative process, and artful process. Marlowe’s plays give
us a powerful sense that there is something to be resisted. We can fashion ourselves not
by embracing Jesus, but in resistance to something. Faustus articulates a new identity
with a new language, a language around him. The theatrical space is somehow vacant.
The moments of most intense time consciousness occur at the end of the play, show that
characters struggle with time.
Who is Faustus? We don’t know his name, he is a self made man (he was born of parents
base of stock). Faustus keeps repeating his name (it is a way to fashion his own identity).
Identity is formed from a subversive identification with the alien (the Devil). Identities
also created by societies around them. The crucial issue is not man’s power to disobey,
but how the characteristics of society lead him to disobey.
P.308: “Consumatum Est” (the bill is ended) -> Most important line in the play. It is
ironic, we are at the beginning of the play. Most important line in Christianity said at his
moment of signing his soul to the devil. To show is subversion, he uses the terms of that
against which he is rebelling.
Boundaries are very important. Faustus shows us that the individual creates his own
identity and his own limits. He can only think of limits in terms of those that exists in the
world. In the play, we come to realize that limits are frustratingly necessary in life, there
is no absolute freedom for everybody. We need boundaries, limits.
For Mephistopheles, Hell is everywhere -> Faustus cannot imagine this, he thinks hell is
an illusion. Mephistopheles says “Experience will change your mind”.
Consumatum est = culmination of Faustus’ fantasies.
Naming oneself is not enough, one has to pursue and end. We constantly wonder what
Time, the idea of fulfillment -> fulfillment or fruition is impossible, you will never be
fulfilled. The crucial issue isn’t the character’s power to disobey.
Open question to think about: Is Faustus a tragic hero? The play is ambivalent about
Faustus at the end. Concluding lines are ambiguous: “Faustus is gone, regard this hellish
fall”. The problem of desire and fulfillment is omnipresent. Helen of Troy, for example, comes on -> we expect something ideal, the most beautiful woman in the world. Faustus
always feels unsatisfied.