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Doctor Faustus

Doctor Faustus

by Christopher Marlowe

Power Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

FAUSTUS
O, what a world of profit and delight,
Of power, of honor and omnipotence,
Is promised to the studious artisan!
All things that move between the quiet poles
Shall be at my command. Emperors and kings
Are but obeyed in their several provinces,
but his dominion that exceeds in this
Stretcheth as far as doth the mind of man.
A sound magician is a demigod. (1.1.52-59)

Notice that Faustus isn't asking for just any power: he's asking for power over everything between the poles—In other words, in the whole stinkin' world. This kind of power is not the kind that emperors and kings have, as Faustus makes clear. Of course, only God has that kind of power, which is precisely the point. Faustus believes that "a sound magician is a demigod," or little god. It's ironic that Faustus calls the magician a "studious artisan." The word "artisan," or craftsman, refers to one who creates something (and in this way is like God). But after Faustus achieves his powers, he never creates anything new with them. He is, therefore, not actually like God at all.

Quote #2

FAUSTUS
I'll levy soldiers with the coin they bring,
And chase the Prince of Parma from our land,
And reign sole king of all the provinces.
Yea, stranger engines for the brunt of war
Than was the fiery keel at Antwerp bridge,
I'll make my servile spirits to invent. (1.1.90-95)

Faustus is quite the nationalist here, focused totally on what his power can get his nation—Germany. Faustus does not like being ruled by an Italian, the Prince of Parma, and it brings out his more violent side. He imagines his spirits inventing war-weapons to rival the burning ship that Dutch forces sent against the Parmese blockade of the Belgian port city of Antwerp in 1585. But when Faustus actually uses his spirits to help him in war, against the forces of Benvolio (in Act 4, Scene 2), it's over an individual matter of honor rather than one of nationalist pride. So his actions fall just a wee bit shy of his ambitions. Okay, a lot shy.

Quote #3

VALDES
Faustus, these books, thy wit, and our experience
Shall make all nations to canonize us.
As Indian moors obey their Spanish lords,
So shall the spirits of every element
Be always serviceable to us three. (1.1.111-115)

Valdes uses a strange combo of comparisons here to express the power that's waiting in the wings for him, Cornelius, and Faustus. He says that their skills will make the nations "canonize" them. Canonization is a word that describes the declaration of a Catholic saint. He expects that everyone will soon honor and admire them. Yet, he also looks forward to being obeyed as defeated people obey their colonizers. These two expectations are somewhat contradictory: a group of people that has been forced to submit through violence (the colonized) will probably not honor and admire their vanquishers. Nice try, buddy.

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