Doctor Faustus

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Temptation, Sin, and Redemption Theme Analysis

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Temptation, Sin, and Redemption Theme Icon

Deeply immersed in Christianity, Marlowe's play explores the alluring temptation of sin, its consequences, and the possibility of redemption for a sinner like Doctor Faustus. Faustus's journey can be seen in relation to the possible trajectory from temptation to sin to redemption: Faustus' ambition is tempted by the prospect of limitless knowledge and power, he sins in order to achieve it, and then he rejects possible redemption. He is so caught up in his desire for power that he neglects the consequences of his deal with Lucifer. Giving into his temptations, he rejects God in favor of Lucifer and Mephastophilis, a sin if there ever was one.

In portraying Faustus' sinful behavior, Marlowe reveals the negative effects of sin on Faustus himself. Despite his originally lofty ambitions, Faustus ends up using his magic for practical jokes, parlor tricks, and the summoning of a beautiful woman (Helen of Troy). As the play's scholars lament, Faustus was once an esteemed scholar but after his deal with the devil he seems a mere shade of his former self.

While Faustus hurts himself and others through sin, he still has the possibility of redemption throughout the play. As the Good Angel tells him, it is never too late to repent and thereby gain God's mercy. But Faustus is persuaded by the Evil Angel not to repent, primarily by convincing Faustus that he's so damned already that he would never actually be able to return to God. These two angels can be seen as representing the opposing pulls of redemption and the temptation to sin even more. Faustus listens to the Evil Angel for the most of the play, but seems to repent in the final scene. Or does he? The question of whether Faustus really repents at the end of the tragedy is debatable and has important implications for whether the play suggests that at some moment it really is too late for a sinner like Faustus to repent and be redeemed. In any case, whether because he repented too late or didn't repent truly, Faustus rejects the possibility of redemption and is ultimately damned for his sins.

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Temptation, Sin, and Redemption ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Temptation, Sin, and Redemption appears in each scene of Doctor Faustus. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Temptation, Sin, and Redemption Quotes in Doctor Faustus

Below you will find the important quotes in Doctor Faustus related to the theme of Temptation, Sin, and Redemption.
Prologue Quotes

...Till, swollen with cunning, of a self-conceit,
His waxen wings did mount above his reach,
And melting heavens conspired his overthrow.
For falling to a devilish exercise,
And glutted more with learning's golden gifts,
He surfeits upon cursed necromancy. (20-25)

Related Characters: Chorus (speaker), Doctor Faustus
Page Number: Pro.20-25
Explanation and Analysis:

In the Prologue, Chorus gives a brief introduction to Doctor Faustus, telling his history before the start of the play. Faustus, like Marlowe himself, was of low birth, and his rise to power and scholarship are an echo of the playwright's own career. He says that the play will merely contain the subject of "Faustus's fortunes, good or bad." The Chorus then details how Faustus rose as an academic and became lifted up by his excellence in divinity, until, as the quote asserts, Faustus became prideful and obsessed with learning more and more. Compared to the Greek myth of Icarus (who flew too close to the sun, which melted his wings and caused him to fall to his death), Faustus flies too high, reaching above what is natural and normal, and then he falls, committing himself to the "devilish exercise" of necromancy (black magic dealing with death).

Already we are made aware of Faustus's sinfulness: he is prideful (self-conceit) and devotes himself to the cursed, sinful arts. We see another one of the seven deadly sins in his desire for knowledge, power, and learning: gluttony. His excessive search for knowledge and books is the source of his temptation, and when he falls prey to it he "surfeits" (overindulges) on the new, dark knowledge he achieves. The Chorus tells us that Faustus will turn to magic, which is sweeter to him than his "chiefest bliss," but the Prologue does not tell us what Faustus's fate will ultimately be (though the appearance of "Tragical" in the title is a good indicator that it will not be a good one).


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Scene 1 Quotes

Why then belike we must sin,
And so consequently die.
Ay, we must die an everlasting death.
What doctrine call you this? Che sara, sara
What will be, shall be! Divinity, adieu!
These metaphysics of magicians,
And necromantic books are heavenly! (44-50)

Related Characters: Doctor Faustus (speaker)
Page Number: 1.1.45-50
Explanation and Analysis:

Faustus has gone through many of his books of various subjects but remains unsatisfied by their content; he has achieved the peak of human academia and is bored by it. Reading Jerome's Bible, Faustus recites and translates Latin phrases. The passages immediately preceding the quote can be summarized as "If you sin, you die" and "everybody sins." Rather than giving the interpretation that his divinity training might suggest, Faustus concludes that we have to sin, and we have to die "an everlasting death." From this logic he concludes that the doctrine can be further simplified to "What will be, shall be." Everyone sins, everyone dies, and everything is predetermined. Thus Faustus decides to depart from divinity, instead focusing on magic and necromancy.

Here Faustus makes the critical inversion that results in his damnation. "Necromantic books are heavenly." He has replaced the holy book of God, the Bible, with the most unholy books he can find. Throughout the play, we will see Faustus reach the ultimate heights of the profane by substituting or perverting the sacred. For now, Faustus substitutes unholy books for a holy one, but soon he will use the holy book itself for his evil doings.

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.

How am I glutted with conceit of this!
Shall I make spirits fetch me what I please,
Resolve me of all ambiguities,
Perform what desperate enterprise I will?
I'll have them fly to India for gold,
Ransack the ocean for orient pearl,
And search all corners of the new-found world
For pleasant fruits and princely delicates. (78-85)

Related Characters: Doctor Faustus (speaker)
Page Number: 1.1.78-85
Explanation and Analysis:

After the Good and Evil Angels depart, Faustus makes clear his intention to proceed. In this soliloquy he acknowledges the gluttony that the Chorus described in the Prologue, but does not seem to understand or care about the consequences of this deadly sin. Faustus instead imagines what he will do when he conjures spirits: make them get things for him, make them tell him everything he wants to know, make them fetch him gold and riches and find all of the "princely delicates" of the world. While he imagines here that he will receive the fruits of education and material objects, Faustus soon reveals that his biggest desire is power. He is focused on his personal glory, and the powers he can amass as an individual, both politically and other-worldly.

Scene 3 Quotes

For when we hear one rack the name of God,
Abjure the Scriptures, and his savior Christ,
We fly in hope to get his glorious soul. (47-49)

Related Characters: Mephastophilis (speaker), Doctor Faustus
Page Number: 1.3.47-49
Explanation and Analysis:

After learning that Mephastophilis must obey Lucifer, Faustus asks if Mephastophilis came out of obedience or his own accord. Mephastophilis responds that he came because of Faustus's conjuring, though not because the spells had any magical effect. Instead, as he says in the quote, devils fly up whenever they hear someone take God's name in vain, profane the scriptures, or deny Christ—in the hope that they will be able to obtain his soul. Note that even Mephastophilis describes the soul as "glorious." It is clearly a thing to be desired and kept sacred and safe. Yet Faustus, blinded by his pride and gluttonous desire, is immediately willing to trade away his soul. It is also significant that thus far Faustus's magic is powerless. Though magic has "ravished" him, it is most truly his sinfulness and denial of Christianity that affects his fate and summons Mephastophilis.

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.

Had I as many souls as there be stars,
I'd give them all for Mephastophilis.
By him I'll be great emperor of the world. (102-104)

Related Characters: Doctor Faustus (speaker), Mephastophilis
Page Number: 1.3.102-104
Explanation and Analysis:

After Mephastophilis leaves, planning to go to Lucifer with the bargain terms and to return at midnight, Faustus delivers another brief soliloquy, which begins with this quote. He claims that if he had "as many souls as there be stars," he would still trade all of them for Mephastophilis's service. The reason? Power: with Mephastophilis's help Faustus can become "great emperor of the world." These lines reveal the extent of Faustus's perversion and vast underestimation of the worth of his soul. Though devils flock to any opportunity to obtain a "glorious soul," Faustus devalues his soul. In conjunction with the shift he made above, switching necromantic books for heavenly ones, he now lives for this black magic instead of living for God.

Scene 5 Quotes

Now Faustus, must thou needs be damned,
And canst thou not be saved.
What boots it then to think of God or heaven? (1-3)

Related Characters: Doctor Faustus (speaker)
Page Number: 2.1.1-3
Explanation and Analysis:

Waiting for Mephastophilis to return with Lucifer, Faustus seems to consider repentance, thinking of God and heaven and questioning his deal. But he begins the scene by suggesting that he has to be damned, and will be damned no matter what he does. He claims that he cannot be saved, and so it is useless for him to think of God or heaven. Here he exposes a huge misunderstanding, both of God and of Fate. His claim that he is fated to be damned seems reasonable, since he does ultimately go to hell. But the claim that he cannot be saved is preposterous, suggesting a limit to God's power and forgiveness. This is a crucial detail that Faustus constantly forgets. He can be saved, if he repents. It is his own free will and his refusal to repent that causes his damnation, not any predetermined fate or fault of God's. At any point during the play, Faustus can repent and receive Christ's mercy. The problem is that he won't.

Thanks, Mephastophilis, yet fain would I have a book wherein I might behold all spells and incantations, that I might raise up spirits when I please. [...] Nay, let me have one book more, and then I have done, wherein I might see all plants, herbs, and trees that grow upon the earth. (163-173)

Related Characters: Doctor Faustus (speaker), Mephastophilis
Page Number: 2.1.161-171
Explanation and Analysis:

Faustus has signed the contract and now officially has the service of Mephistophilis, who has provided a show of devils and fireworks and informed Faustus that he will have the powers of a spirit. When Faustus asks for a wife, Mephistophilis denies him, saying that marriage is a holy sacrament. Instead Mephistophilis provides a devil dressed as a woman, but when this does not please Faustus, Mephistophilis instead provides magic books. This quote shows Faustus asking for more and more texts, unsatisfied and always wanting more. Though he appears unsatisfied, is is interesting to note the way that his desire has been diverted: his desire for a woman and sexuality has been replaced with the desire for books and intellectualism. Recall that magic "ravished" Faustus; books and dark knowledge are what he desires most, and are intimately connected to lust and sexuality for him.

When I behold the heavens, then I repent,
And curse thee, wicked Mephastophilis,
Because thou hast deprived me of those joys. (177-179)

Related Characters: Doctor Faustus (speaker), Mephastophilis
Page Number: 2.3.1-3
Explanation and Analysis:

After mentioning his desire for books that contain information about the heavens, Faustus considers repentance. Here he says that when he thinks about heaven, he repents and curses Mephastophilis, saying that it's his fault that Faustus will be deprived of the joys of heaven. Mephastophilis tries to argue that Faustus is greater than heaven, since heaven was made for men, but Faustus concludes that since he is a man, he will repent and go to heaven. Now that he desires to repent, the Good and Evil Angels re-enter. Faustus says that he will repent, and even acknowledges that if he does repent, God will forgive him. But, as the Evil Angel predicts, Faustus does not. This moment is exemplary of the numerous opportunities Faustus misses to save himself. Even when he makes the right conclusions about what he needs to do, and seems to correctly understand the limitless power of God's love and forgiveness, Faustus continuously makes the wrong choice and sins again.

Why should I die then, or basely despair?
I am resolved! Faustus shall ne'er repent.
Come, Mephastophilis, let us dispute again,
And argue of divine astrology. (207-210)

Related Characters: Doctor Faustus (speaker), Mephastophilis
Page Number: 2.3.31-34
Explanation and Analysis:

Though he has just decided to repent and seek heaven, and the Good Angel has convinced him that repentance will bring God's pity and forgiveness, Faustus almost immediately decides that he "shall ne'er repent." He believes his heart too hardened to be capable of repentance, and then decides that his power is so great that he has no reason to die or despair. The same insistence on fate as opposed to free will and the implied limitation on God's forgiving love leave Faustus stuck: he won't repent because he thinks it's too late and he is predestined to go to hell. But it is only too late because he thinks it is, and he only goes to hell because of his refusal to repent. Resolved in this faulty logic, he goes back to his obsession with knowledge and begins asking Mephastophilis questions about the universe.

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.

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

Yet Faustus, look up to heaven; remember God's mercies are infinite. (13-14)

Related Characters: Three Scholars (speaker), Doctor Faustus
Page Number: 5.2.13-14
Explanation and Analysis:

Faustus's contract with Lucifer is nearing its end; he is about to die and lose his soul forever. He speaks with Scholars, lamenting his sins and telling them about his deal with Lucifer. The Scholars are shocked about the deal, and attempt to help Faustus. They tell him that he should repent, and that all is not lost. In the quote, they remind him of the crucial detail he keeps forgetting or denying, and that the Good Angel and the Old Man kept trying to tell him: "God's mercies are infinite." They assure Faustus that if he repents, he will be saved. It is extremely simple and powerful, but it is also exactly what Faustus cannot hear. 

But Faustus' offense can ne'er be pardoned! The serpent that tempted Eve may be saved, but not Faustus. (15-16)

Related Characters: Doctor Faustus (speaker)
Page Number: 5.2.15-16
Explanation and Analysis:

This profound line is offered in response to the above, "God's mercies are infinite." Faustus responds with extreme pride, suggesting that his offense is so horrible that it is beyond all salvation. He believes he cannot be pardoned, and says that Lucifer himself (who in Christian tradition is associated with the serpent that tempted Adam and Eve) might be saved, "but not Faustus." This prideful belief is much of the reason that Faustus is in this position in the first place. He dared to reach beyond the bounds of normal humans, believing himself to be superior and deserving of special powers and wonderful gifts. Now, he is prideful even in his evil, claiming to be worse than the greatest villain of all. In reality, Satan has no chance of salvation, but Faustus could at any moment be forgiven if he wasn't blinded by pride, fear, and lack of faith.

On God, whom Faustus hath blasphemed? Ah my God—I would weep, but the devil draws in my tears! gush forth blood, instead of tears—yea, life and soul! O, he stays my tongue! I would lift up my hands, but see, they hold them, they hold them! (27-31)

Related Characters: Doctor Faustus (speaker)
Related Symbols: Blood
Page Number: 5.2.28-33
Explanation and Analysis:

Continuing to try and help Faustus, the Scholars tell him to call on God. This quote is in Faustus's response. He believes that since he has blasphemed God, he will not be saved. His sins are so great to him that he believes he cannot repent, and that the devils are literally holding him back from doing so. He can't weep, since the devil draws back his tears. He cries out about blood, presumably Christ's, along with regret for using his own blood to sign the bargain, but here he does not formally repent, since the devil "stays his tongue." Similarly, he cannot lift his hands to the heavens, since the devils (his sins and fears) hold them down.

Faustus continues to believe that his agency and free will are meaningless, or simply less powerful than the forces of fate and of the devil. He expresses the desire to repent, but his fear and his constant misunderstanding of God prevents him from doing so. In the end, Faustus is willing to do everything but the thing needed to save himself.

O I'll leap up to my God! Who pulls me down?
See, see where Christ's blood streams in the firmament!
One drop would save my soul, half a drop: ah my Christ. (69-71)

Related Characters: Doctor Faustus (speaker)
Related Symbols: Blood
Page Number: 5.2.73-75
Explanation and Analysis:

The Scholars have left the stage, and Faustus is alone soliloquizing; there is one hour left before the deal expires. After feeling his hands pulled down (in the quote above), here Faustus wants to leap up to God, but cries out "Who pulls me down?" He then sees visions of Christ's blood in the sky. The image overwhelms him, and he recognizes that "One drop" would save his soul, even "half a drop." Faustus recognizes God's saving power and what he needs to do to be saved, but he still does not do it. His cry to Christ is an acknowledgement of power, not of wrongdoing; he has not repented and begged for mercy. Recall also how much of Faustus's own blood was required to damn himself, while even half a drop of merciful Christ's blood will save him.

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.

Epilogue Quotes

Regard his hellish fall,
Whose fiendful fortune may exhort the wise
Only to wonder at unlawful things:
Whose deepness doth entice such forward wits
To practice more than heavenly power permits. (4-8)

Related Characters: Chorus (speaker), Doctor Faustus
Page Number: E.4-8
Explanation and Analysis:

These lines spoken by the Chorus conclude the Epilogue and the play. The Chorus warns viewers to "regard [Faustus's] hellish fall," encouraging them "only to wonder at unlawful things" but not to act upon them. This lesson is a strange one, as it suggests that it is okay to wonder and think about unlawful things like necromancy and deals with the devil, and even to consider them for yourself; it is only bad to act on base desires and to "practice more than heavenly power permits." 

This lesson also stands out because they do not emphasize Faustus's misunderstanding of God's power or crucial error of not repenting. We are left with the question, are some sins so great that they cannot be forgiven? Logic and much of the play suggest that the answer is no— even Faustus could have been forgiven if he repented—but the Epilogue still warns us to stay away from his dark practices, which made repenting for Faustus all but impossible.