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Doctor Faustus

Doctor Faustus


by Christopher Marlowe

Doctor Faustus Theme of Wealth

As Faustus does the whole should-he-or-shouldn't-he-deal-with-the-devil calculation (here's an idea, Faustus: you shouldn't), the wealth that such a deal can bring him factors considerably into his fuzzy math. He knows that, with Mephistopheles's help, he can get his grubby hands on the treasures of exotic places like India, Asia, and the Americas. Plus, he could use his considerable power to cheat peasants out of their money and possessions. Beyond demonstrating the cravenness of his character, Faustus's desire for wealth and his willingness to sell his soul to the devil shows us that in Doctor Faustus wealth and salvation don't exactly go hand in hand.

Questions About Wealth

  1. What kinds of luxury goods do Faustus, Valdes, and Cornelius imagine that their magical spirits will bring them? What does their imagination tell us about their personalities?
  2. What does Faustus imagine himself doing with spirit-produced wealth before he has it? What do these plans reveal about his character and priorities?
  3. How does Faustus use his magic to cheat people out of their money? 
  4. Why does Faustus will all his possessions to Wagner? And what does this have to do with Mephistopheles?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Faustus, Valdes, and Cornelius are all about exploitation and destruction. When they imagine the wealth they'll get with their magic, they don't do anything nice with it, which shows that ill-gotten wealth is bad news.

Faustus's use of magic to deprive peasants of their money emphasizes the importance of honesty and transparency to functioning capitalist economic exchange.

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