Doctor Faustus

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Good Angel and Evil Angel Character Analysis

A pair of angels who appear onstage every time Faustus wavers in his resolve or considers repenting. They usually deliver contradictory messages, one promising God's forgiveness and the other swearing that Faustus is irrevocably damned and so should embrace the powers and treasures of dark magic. One can see these two spirits as representing the two conflicting impulses of Faustus's conscience, but in the religious world of the play (in which actual devils appear on the stage), they should also be seen as real, literal angels.

Good Angel and Evil Angel Quotes in Doctor Faustus

The Doctor Faustus quotes below are all either spoken by Good Angel and Evil Angel or refer to Good Angel and Evil Angel. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Temptation, Sin, and Redemption Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. edition of Doctor Faustus published in 2005.
Scene 1 Quotes

O Faustus, lay that damned book aside,
And gaze not on it, lest it tempt thy soul,
And heap God's heavy wrath upon thy head. (70-72)

Related Characters: Good Angel and Evil Angel (speaker), Doctor Faustus
Related Symbols: The Good and Evil Angels
Page Number: 1.1.70-72
Explanation and Analysis:

Having decided to pursue magic, Faustus has invited magicians to help him in his quest. As he awaits their arrival, two angels appear: The Good Angel and the Evil Angel. These two figures are prototypes for the modern (and usually cartoonish) conception of a competing angel and devil on one's shoulders. Here, the Good Angel tells Faustus to resist temptation and refuse to look at the necromantic books he so desires. The angel warns that such a sin will "heap God's heavy wrath upon" his head. The Evil Angel encourages Faustus to proceed, promising power and treasure. The two angels will return throughout the play to advise and tempt Faustus respectively. As Faustus has already accepted that "What will be, shall be," and decided to pursue magic, the Good Angel's attempt to dissuade him here is unsuccessful.

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Scene 5 Quotes

Never too late, if Faustus will repent. (254)

Related Characters: Good Angel and Evil Angel (speaker), Doctor Faustus
Related Symbols: The Good and Evil Angels
Page Number: 2.3.76
Explanation and Analysis:

As the discussion turns to the universe and astrology, Faustus asks who made the world. The answer, of course, is God, and so Faustus begins to think on Creation and heaven once again. These thoughts cause him to curse Mephastophilis for damning him, at which point Faustus asks up to heaven, "Is't too late?" The Evil Angel responds with devastating brevity: "Too late." But the Good Angel responds with the essential truth in the quote above. It is never too late, if only Faustus is willing to repent. At this profound statement, Faustus makes a leap and shouts out to Christ in a moment of earnest repentance.

If the play ended at this moment, it is likely that Faustus would have been saved. Instead, Lucifer himself enters and tries to convince Faustus that Christ cannot save him. Lucifer, unsurprisingly, lies to Faustus, and convinces him to think about the devil instead of God. Ultimately, Faustus promises never to turn back to God in repentance again, and after a fantastical show of the Seven Deadly Sins, Faustus wishes for hell and continues to sin, damning himself once again.

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Good Angel and Evil Angel Character Timeline in Doctor Faustus

The timeline below shows where the character Good Angel and Evil Angel appears in Doctor Faustus. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Scene 1
Temptation, Sin, and Redemption Theme Icon
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
As Faustus waits for Valdes and Cornelius to arrive, the Good Angel and Bad Angel enter. The Good Angel begs Faustus not to be tempted by the... (full context)
Scene 5
Temptation, Sin, and Redemption Theme Icon
The Bargain Theme Icon
The Good Angel and Evil Angel appear. The Good Angel tries to convince Faustus to repent and seek... (full context)
Temptation, Sin, and Redemption Theme Icon
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
...Faustus to think of heaven and he debates repenting and renouncing magic. At this, the Good Angel and Evil Angel appear. The Good Angel encourages Faustus to repent and promises God's forgiveness,... (full context)
Temptation, Sin, and Redemption Theme Icon
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
As soon as Faustus mentions possibly repenting, the angels appear again. The Evil Angel tells him it is too late to repent, but the Good Angel says that it... (full context)