Doctor Faustus

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Doctor Faustus Scene 5 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Faustus begins to doubt whether he has made a good deal. He considers turning back to God, but ultimately rejects the idea, telling himself, “The god thou servest is thine own appetite,” (5, 11).
Faustus considers the path of redemption, but continues to give into his own temptations and desires. Here he is literally saying that his own desire—that he himself—will be his god.
Themes
Temptation, Sin, and Redemption Theme Icon
The Good Angel and Evil Angel appear. The Good Angel tries to convince Faustus to repent and seek God again, asking him to think of heaven. The Evil Angel counters by telling Faustus to think of wealth, which excites Faustus. The angels leave.
The angels again make their cases to Faustus. Faustus values material wealth over the spiritual wealth of heaven. In continuing to follow the Evil Angel, he is essentially exchanging one for the other.
Themes
Temptation, Sin, and Redemption Theme Icon
The Bargain Theme Icon
Faustus resolves to go with his deal, thinking of all the 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 with his own blood to finalize the deal.
All of this deliberation seems to imply that Faustus is making decisions based on his own free will. Lucifer insists on a formal, legalistic document for their bargain, with Faustus' blood symbolizing his total commitment to the agreement.
Themes
The Bargain 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 make others suffer as he does. Faustus eagerly cuts his arm and prepares to sign a deed of gift to give his soul to Lucifer. His blood congeals almost immediately, though, and Faustus wonders, “What might the staying of my blood portend?” (5, 64)
Faustus realizes that his congealing blood does not bode well. It seems to signify that his body, and to the extent that his blood represents his very essence, his soul, are trying to stop him from damning himself. He has another opportunity to freely repent and seek redemption.
Themes
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Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
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After Mephastophilis brings hot coals to warm his blood back into liquid, Faustus signs the agreement. Immediately, he sees written on his arm the words homo fuge (Latin for “Flee, man”). He panics and wonders where he could flee to: “if unto God, he'll throw me down to hell.” (5, 77)
The critical moment has passed, and the agreement is signed. Note how Faustus' reasons for not repenting now change: before signing the agreement he followed the bad angel because of the temptation of wealth and power. Now that he has signed the agreement, now that he is a damned sinner, he finds it hard to believe that God would actually take him back. This is a classic torment of the sinner, who (with the same sort of aggrandizement of himself that led him to sin in the first place) believes that his sin is so uniquely awful that repentance is impossible. Put another way, he loses faith in God's infinite love.
Themes
Temptation, Sin, and Redemption Theme Icon
Mephastophilis leaves and re-enters with more devils, bringing Faustus crowns and expensive clothing. Mephastophilis promises Faustus that he now has access to riches and the ability to call forth spirits. This comforts Faustus' anxieties about the deal, and he gives Mephastophilis the signed agreement. He reads the contract, which states that, in return for his soul, Faustus will have the powers of a spirit, while Mephastophilis will be at his service, doing and bringing him whatever he wants. Mephastophilis will appear whenever Faustus calls him and will be invisible. Mephastophilis accepts the agreement.
Faustus' anxieties are assuaged by his desire for riches and power, for the ability to order Mephastophilis around. The contract is read out in full, emphasizing its status as a binding, legal document to which Faustus willingly assented.
Themes
Temptation, Sin, and Redemption Theme Icon
The Bargain Theme Icon
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
With his newfound power, Faustus first seeks to increase his knowledge. He asks Mephastophilis exactly where hell is. Mephastophilis answers that hell “hath no limits” (5, 120) and is wherever devils are. Faustus says he doesn't 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 existence, since he is damned and in hell.
Faustus immediately sets about acquiring knowledge. Once again, he does not heed the example of Mephastophilis and other devils, who demonstrate the painful consequences of unrepentant sinning.
Themes
Temptation, Sin, and Redemption Theme Icon
Education, Knowledge, and Power Theme Icon
Faustus orders Mephastophilis to get him a wife and he returns with a devil in women's clothing, which Faustus angrily rejects. Mephastophilis gives Faustus a book filled with magic spells. He tells Faustus that the book contains spells to raise up spirits, as well as knowledge of the planets, the heavens, and all plants, herbs, and trees.
The spell-book is almost like a text-book for magic. The realm of magic thus seems just like the other things Faustus has studied over the course of his life. The book contains a wealth of knowledge for the eager Faustus.
Themes
Temptation, Sin, and Redemption Theme Icon
Education, Knowledge, and Power Theme Icon
The mention of the heavens causes 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, but the Evil Angel says that God would not pity Faustus. The angels leave and Faustus says he cannot repent.
Faustus continues to have opportunities to repent, but he continues to listen to the Evil Angel, who claims that it is too late. There are two alternate but related paradoxes at work here. First: it is only too late for Faustus to repent because he thinks it's too late. At the same time, if Faustus was predestined to go to hell, then he thinks it's too late and can't repent because he's fated not to be able to repent.
Themes
Temptation, Sin, and Redemption Theme Icon
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
After resolving not to repent, Faustus continues asking Mephastophilis questions. He asks him about astronomy, the planets, and the universe. He asks who made the world and Mephastophilis refuses to answer, saying that giving the answer would be “against our kingdom,” (5, 245). Mephastophilis leaves and Faustus again questions whether he should repent.
Faustus continues to seek more knowledge from Mephastophilis. Mephastophilis can tell him all about the universe, but will not mention God. Again, Faustus' seems unable to take a hint from Mephastophilis' suffering and repent.
Themes
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Education, Knowledge, and Power 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 is never too late. The angels leave and Faustus cries out for Christ to save his soul.
This is one of the moments where Faustus is the closest to actually repenting his sins and voluntarily seeking redemption through God.
Themes
Temptation, Sin, and Redemption Theme Icon
Fate vs. Free Will 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 talk of Christ “injures” the devils. He tells Faustus not to think of God, but rather of the devil, with whom he has made his agreement. Faustus vows not to speak of God or heaven anymore.
However, Faustus' about-face is quickly reversed, as Lucifer convinces him to continue sinning. Is Lucifer right that Christ cannot save him now that he has given away his soul, or is he merely lying to keep Faustus in tow? He is, after all, the devil. Note how Lucifer resorts to a kind of legalese here, reminding Faustus of his agreement, of the bargain. The thing about repentance, in contrast, is that it isn't the same sort of bargain. Instead it is total, complete—you give yourself freely to God, and God gives you grace (i.e. everything) in return. There is no exploitation in the "deal" with God.
Themes
Temptation, Sin, and Redemption Theme Icon
Lucifer announces that he has come to show Faustus the Seven Deadly Sins “in their proper shapes,” (5, 274) for which Faustus is excited. As each personified sin enters, Faustus questions them. The sins are Pride, Covetousness, Wrath, Envy, Gluttony, Sloth, and Lechery. Each describes the qualities of their own sin.
Faustus is entertained by seeing these sins right in front of him, but still does not think of his own sins. It seems not to register that he is committing the same sins.
Themes
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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 him to peruse the book of spells in the meantime, from which he can learn how to change his shape.
Faustus' insatiable desire to know includes even a desire to see hell. Lucifer keeps playing into Faustus' desires by encouraging him to learn more and more spells.
Themes
Temptation, Sin, and Redemption Theme Icon
Education, Knowledge, and Power Theme Icon