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Doctor Faustus

Doctor Faustus


by Christopher Marlowe

Doctor Faustus Cunning and Cleverness Quotes

How we cite our quotes: (Act.Scene.Line)

Quote #1

So much he profits in divinity
That shortly he was graced with doctor's name,
Excelling all, and sweetly can dispute
In th'heavenly matters of theology;
Till swoll'n with cunning, of a self-conceit,
His waxen wings did mount above his reach,
And melting, heavens conspired his overthrow. (Prologue.15-20)

Ever heard of Icarus? He's the figure from Greek mythology who tried to fly too close to the sun and fell to Earth and died when its rays melted the wax holding his hand-crafted wings together (to make a long story short). The implication is that the gods are jealous when Icarus (and Faustus) tries to do things beyond the normal abilities of humankind. And, boy, do they get punished for it.

Quote #2

Is to dispute well logic's chiefest end?
Affords this art no greater miracle?
Then read no more; thou hast attained that end. (1.1.7-10)

Well we already know that Faustus can dispute well; the Chorus told us he's an awesome debater (Chorus.17). All the same, Faustus could be making a mistake by assuming that the study of logic is only useful for learning how to win debates. Isn't knowledge for its own sake a worthwhile goal? We'd say so.

Quote #3

The end of physic is our body's health.
Why, Faustus, hast thou not attained that end?
Are not thy bills hung up as monuments,
Whereby whole cities have escaped the plague
And thousand desperate maladies been cured? (1.1.16-20)

Here Faustus is talking about public health measures against the plague that he has apparently put into place. These are probably recommendations like isolating the sick and poisoning the rodent population. By referring to such recommendations as "monuments," Faustus emphasizes their public nature and his view of himself as an important public figure, whose wits have an impact.

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