Doctor Faustus

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Lucifer Character Analysis

Marlowe's Lucifer is distant. His interests in Faustus's affairs are usually represented by Mephastophilis, who does his bidding above all else, and who does not have the authority to make a deal for Faustus's soul without Lucifer's permission. This Lucifer may be powerful, but he is also a practical businessman who is aware of his weaknesses. He is offended when Faustus calls out to God, and he insists on an official blood oath from Faustus as a guarantee of loyalty.

Lucifer Quotes in Doctor Faustus

The Doctor Faustus quotes below are all either spoken by Lucifer or refer to Lucifer. 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 3 Quotes

I am a servant to great Lucifer,
And may not follow thee without his leave;
No more than he commands must we perform. (40-42)

Related Characters: Mephastophilis (speaker), Doctor Faustus, Lucifer
Page Number: 1.3.40-42
Explanation and Analysis:

Doctor Faustus has conjured devils by profanely writing God's name backwards and by uttering incantations. Such a scene would have been extremely shocking to Renaissance audiences, who in general believed wholly in Christianity and would have perceived the performance itself as blasphemous and even dangerous. There are stories of audience members fainting during the play, and even of extra, unaccounted-for devils appearing on the stage. Mephistophilis first entered as a hideous devil, but Faustus instructed him to leave and return dressed ironically as a Franciscan friar. When Mephastophilis asks what is desired of him, Faustus gives the instruction to obey all commands.

In the quote, Mephastophilis responds that he is a servant to Lucifer, and that he cannot obey Faustus unless he is given permission. In this way, Mephastophilis introduces Lucifer and initiates the tempting conversation that will even lead to Faustus signing away his soul.

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Go bear these tidings to great Lucifer,
Seeing Faustus hath incurred eternal death
By desperate thoughts against Jove's deity:
Say, he surrenders up to him his soul
So he will spare him four and twenty years,
Letting him live in all voluptuousness,
Having thee ever to attend on me,
To give me whatsoever I ask,
To tell me whatsoever I demand,
To slay mine enemies, and aid my friends,
And always be obedient to my will. (87-89)

Related Characters: Doctor Faustus (speaker), Mephastophilis, Lucifer
Page Number: 1.3.87-97
Explanation and Analysis:

Pressed by his thirst for knowledge, Faustus has learned about hell and Lucifer's fall from Mephistophilis. Now, he instructs the devil to bring a deal proposal to Lucifer. Here Faustus speaks as though his death and damnation are secured and fated, speaking of them as a matter of fact. The bargain he offers Lucifer is that he will give up his soul if Mephistophilis will be his servant for 24 years, doing whatever he demands, even killing for him, "ever obedient to [Faustus's] will." Faustus wants power over Mephistophilis, and through him, immense necromantic power and knowledge. He is so willing to part with his soul that he proposes the terms to Lucifer, believing that the 24 years of power will be well worth the price of his eternal soul. Striking evidence that Faustus believes this bargain is a good one can be found in the quote below.

Scene 5 Quotes

But Faustus, thou must bequeath it solemnly,
And write a deed of gift with thine own blood,
For that security craves great Lucifer. (34-36)

Related Characters: Mephastophilis (speaker), Doctor Faustus, Lucifer
Related Symbols: Blood
Page Number: 2.1.34-36
Explanation and Analysis:

Though the Good Angel has tried to convince him to turn back towards heaven, faustus has resolved to continue with his deal, excitedly imagining all the wealth and power he will gain. He summons Mephistophils, and asks whether Lucifer has accepted the deal. Mephistophilis tells Faustus that Lucifer has in fact accepted, and in the quote he describes the gruesome detail that will make the bargain official. Faustus must "write a deed of gift" with his "own blood." Only this step will make the deal secure enough for Lucifer to accept it. Faustus stabs his arm and begins writing, though there are a few opportunities for him to stop. His blood congeals, and he receives a divine warning, "Homo Fuge"—"flee, man"—in his very flesh. But ultimately, he still signs away his soul.

This bargain brings up the question that Faustus himself asks: is your soul your own? Can a person even sign it away? Ultimately, it may be that the deal is meaningless, and it is Faustus's refusal to repent that brings about his damnation, not any signature or bargain. Also note the intense, ironic symbolism of blood: Faustus uses his own blood to sign away his soul and secure his own damnation, but even one drop of the most powerful blood of all, Christ's saving blood, would be enough to bring Faustus mercy and salvation.

Scene 12 Quotes

Sweet Mephastophilis, entreat thy lord
To pardon my unjust presumption;
And with my blood again I will confirm
My former vow I made to Lucifer. (60-63)

Related Characters: Doctor Faustus (speaker), Mephastophilis, Lucifer
Related Symbols: Blood
Page Number: 5.1.70-73
Explanation and Analysis:

As mentioned above, Faustus has uttered the words "I do repent," causing Mephastophilis to rage against him and threaten to tear him to pieces. Seeing how angry Mephastophilis is, Faustus speaks the lines in this quote, saying he will reaffirm his vow to Lucifer. Sacred and profane are inverted for Faustus, so repentance is "unjust," and he asks the devil to "pardon him." The extremity of this quote demonstrates the power that his above "I do repent" carried. To cancel out the repentance, Faustus must confirm the vow he made to Lucifer with "blood again." All of his sins are washed away by the simple utterance of repentance, and he must be made to make more deadly sins if Lucifer hopes to retain his soul.

One thing, good servant, let me crave of thee,
To glut the longing of my heart's desire:
That I might have unto my paramour
That heavenly Helen which I saw of late,
Whose sweet embracings may extinguish clean
These thoughts that do dissuade me from my vow:
And keep mine oath I made to Lucifer. (72-78)

Related Characters: Doctor Faustus (speaker), Mephastophilis, Lucifer
Page Number: 5.1.81-87
Explanation and Analysis:

Having reaffirmed his vow to Lucifer, once again in blood, Faustus now requests that Mephastophilis fulfill his usually gluttonous desire with an unusual object. Instead of asking for more books, Faustus asks Mephastophilis to produce again the Helen of Troy that he recently conjured to impress the Scholars. He reasons that Helen's "sweet embracings" will distract him from his thoughts of repentance and allow him to keep the oath he made to Lucifer. When Mephastophilis brings forth Helen, Faustus utters the play's most famous line (and possibly the best-known line that Marlowe ever wrote): "Was this the face that launched a thousand ships?" Faustus then delivers a famous, seemingly romantic monologue about Helen.

This famous scene, however, should not be taken at face value. Recall that this is not Helen of Troy, but is instead a devil in her shape. This fact would be easy to remember during a contemporary performance of the play, as theatrical productions had all male casts during the English Renaissance. Thus a male actor would have played a male devil dressed as Helen of Troy. And Faustus have been as aware of this strange, demonic cross-dressing as the audience. Recall that when Faustus asks for a wife, Mephastophilis produces a devil dressed as a woman, which Faustus immediately rejects with disgust. His response to Helen here can then be seen as indicative of his dramatic change from the start of the play. He is now so steeped in necromancy and sin that he no longer cares what or who the false Helen really is.

Scene 13 Quotes

Ugly hell gape not! Come not, Lucifer!
I'll burn my books—ah, Mephastophilis! (112-113)

Related Characters: Doctor Faustus (speaker), Mephastophilis, Lucifer
Page Number: 5.2.115-116
Explanation and Analysis:

These are Faustus's final lines in the play, after which he is carried off to hell. He has cried to Lucifer, to the earth, and to God himself, but he has not repented, and thus he is damned. He now cries out to hell, begging it not to open, and asks Lucifer not to come, offering even to burn his books, the treasures for which he offered his soul in the first place. Filled with regret and fear, he seems to recognize what a terrible mistake he has made, and how foolish he was to sell his soul for any price. We also have seen some evidence that he understands that such a sale was preposterous, and that God's mercy and power could overwrite any deed, written in blood or no. But for a final time, Faustus does not take the final step. If his last lines were, "I repent!" his fate might have been different, but instead he is carried to hell to be tortured as the sinner that he is.

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Lucifer Character Timeline in Doctor Faustus

The timeline below shows where the character Lucifer appears in Doctor Faustus. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Scene 3
Temptation, Sin, and Redemption Theme Icon
Education, Knowledge, and Power Theme Icon
...do whatever he tells him to do, but Mephastophilis replies that he can't obey without Lucifer's permission. Faustus asks if Mephastophilis came because Lucifer ordered him to. Mephastophilis says no. Faustus... (full context)
Temptation, Sin, and Redemption Theme Icon
Education, Knowledge, and Power Theme Icon
Faustus asks Mephastophilis about Lucifer and the fallen angels: why they fell, where they are damned, and how they can... (full context)
The Bargain Theme Icon
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Faustus tells Mephastophilis to propose a deal to Lucifer: Faustus will give Lucifer his soul in return for 24 years with Mephastophilis as his... (full context)
Scene 5
The Bargain Theme Icon
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
...wealth he will amass. He summons up Mephastophilis and asks if there is news from Lucifer. Mephastophilis announces that Lucifer has accepted the deal, and that Faustus must sign an agreement... (full context)
Temptation, Sin, and Redemption Theme Icon
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Faustus asks what Lucifer wants with his soul. Mephastophilis informs him that Lucifer seeks to enlarge his kingdom and... (full context)
Temptation, Sin, and Redemption Theme Icon
Education, Knowledge, and Power Theme Icon
...believe in hell and is therefore not worried that he has given his soul to Lucifer and will be damned to hell. Mephastophilis says that he himself is proof of hell's... (full context)
Temptation, Sin, and Redemption Theme Icon
At Faustus' invocation of Christ, Mephastophilis appears with Lucifer and Belzebub (another devil). Lucifer tells Faustus that Christ cannot save him and that his... (full context)
Temptation, Sin, and Redemption Theme Icon
Lucifer announces that he has come to show Faustus the Seven Deadly Sins “in their proper... (full context)
Temptation, Sin, and Redemption Theme Icon
Education, Knowledge, and Power Theme Icon
Faustus is pleased at seeing the sins, and eagerly asks Lucifer to see hell. Lucifer says that he will send for Faustus at midnight and encourages... (full context)
Scene 12
Temptation, Sin, and Redemption Theme Icon
The Bargain Theme Icon
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
...tear thy flesh,” (12, 59). Faustus apologizes and says he will re-confirm his vow to Lucifer. Faustus tells Mephastophilis to torment the old man for making him doubt his bargain, and... (full context)
Scene 13
Temptation, Sin, and Redemption Theme Icon
The Bargain Theme Icon
Education, Knowledge, and Power Theme Icon
...the scholars from earlier. Faustus is in despair, as the end of his deal with Lucifer is approaching. Faustus laments his sins, and the scholars tell him to seek God's mercy.... (full context)
Temptation, Sin, and Redemption Theme Icon
...at the name of God he feels pain in his heart (because he has given Lucifer his soul). He begs Lucifer to spare him, then asks the earth to gape open... (full context)
Temptation, Sin, and Redemption Theme Icon
The Bargain Theme Icon
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
Education, Knowledge, and Power Theme Icon
...a hundred thousand years and then be saved, rather than being eternally damned. He curses Lucifer and himself. Midnight comes, and Faustus despairs. Devils enter and carry Faustus off as he... (full context)