Doctor Faustus

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The Good and Evil Angels Symbol Analysis

The Good and Evil Angels Symbol Icon
These two angels appear on-stage when Faustus wavers in his decision to give his soul to Lucifer and considers repenting. The Good Angel encourages him to seek God's mercy and tells him that it is never too late to do so. The Evil Angel persuades Faustus not to repent, arguing that he is too damned to ever be able to return to god and so he should just keep indulging his desire for knowledge, power, and enjoyment. The angels can be seen as symbolizing the opposing pulls of sin and repentance, or the opposing sides of Faustus' own conscience. However, they also have a presence as actual entities, real angels on the stage.

The Good and Evil Angels Quotes in Doctor Faustus

The Doctor Faustus quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Good and Evil Angels. 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.

Scene 12 Quotes

Ah stay, good Faustus, stay thy desperate steps!
I see an angel hovers o'er thy head
And with a vial full of precious grace
Offers to pour the same into thy soul!
Then call for mercy, and avoid despair. (42-47)

Related Characters: Old Man (speaker), Doctor Faustus
Related Symbols: The Good and Evil Angels, Blood
Page Number: 5.1.52-56
Explanation and Analysis:

It has been years now, and Faustus and Mephistophilis have done lots of magic and mischief, including terrifying the Pope and prompting an exorcism attempt. Faustus recently showed off for several scholars by conjuring Helen of Troy. Now an Old Man has entered and is attempting to convince Faustus to repent, telling him that only Christ's mercy can save him. Faustus becomes enraged and grabs a dagger from Mephastophilis, when the Old Man speaks the quote above.

The Old Man tells Faustus to stop, and that he sees an angel hovering above (most likely, the Good Angel which Faustus can no longer see). The Old Man describes a "vial full of precious grace" held by the angel, which could be poured into Faustus's soul to save him. This grace fluid undoubtably refers to Christ's saving blood, for which Faustus will eventually cry out in his final soliloquies. 

Accursed Faustus, where is mercy now?
I do repent, and yet I do despair:
Hell strives with grace for conquest in my breast! (53-55)

Related Characters: Doctor Faustus (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Good and Evil Angels
Page Number: 5.1.62-65
Explanation and Analysis:

Faustus struggles with the ideals that the Good and Evil Angels argued, though he cannot experience them in the same way he used to. Here he describes their arguments with "Hell strives with grace for conquest in my breast." In this moment, though he calls himself "accursed" and is in "despair," Faustus utters the key lines "I do repent." Despite his confusion, his genuine desire to repent and these words are also enough to save him, so much the case that Mephastophilis threatens Faustus and calls him a traitor in order to convince him to turn back to Lucifer and sin once more.

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