Study Guide

Doctor Faustus Wealth

By Christopher Marlowe


Act 1, Scene 1

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. (1.1.90-92)

Okay, now he's not so charitable. Here, Faustus's desire for wealth is strongly linked to his desire for power. Many of Faustus's fellow citizens would be pumped if he ran the Prince of Parma out of out town, since they no doubt believe he rules them unjustly. But Faustus would do this not out of the goodness of his heart, but out of a desire to rule over them, himself.

I'll have them fill the public schools with silk,
Wherewith the students shall be bravely clad. (1.1.88-89)

Hey, that's not such a bad goal, right? Faustus seems downright charitable here. Silk is an expensive fabric, which tells us that Faustus wants to help impoverished scholars enjoy a life more luxurious than the one to which they're accustomed. Sounds good to Shmoop.

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. (1.1.80-84)

The riches that Faustus imagines are all from exotic, foreign lands, and ones that had all recently been discovered by Europeans: India, the Orient (Asia), and the "new-found world" (the Americas). These riches would've been tough to get and, therefore, more expensive, but Faustus's desire for them also suggests that he wants to be like a conqueror or explorer. Could that mean he's also power hungry, too?

The spirits tell me they can dry the sea
And fetch the treasure of all foreign wrecks,
Yea, all the wealth that our forefathers hid
Within the massy entrails of the earth.
Then tell me Faustus, what shall we three want? (1.1.137-141)

Like pirates, Faustus and his friends want to search for buried treasure. While that sounds like fun, we have to say that his description of it is more than a little violent. Massy entrails? Yuck.

From Venice shall they drag huge argosies,
And from America the golden fleece
That yearly stuffed Philip's treasury,
If learnèd Faustus shall be resolute. (1.1.123-126)

Faustus's friend Valdes echoes his desire to be like an explorer by exploiting the wealth of the new world. Like Faustus's desire to chase the Prince of Parma out of the region, Valdes's proposal to rob King Phillip of Spain reveals the way both men imagine wealth to be the means by which they can help their homeland excel above all other nations.

Act 1, Scene 4

Well, sirrah, leave your jesting and take these guilders.
          [Gives money.]
Yes, marry, sir, and I thank you too.
So, now thou at to be at an hour's warning whensoever and wheresoever the devil shall fetch thee.
Here, take your guilders; I'll none of 'em.
          [Tries to return money.] (1.4.25-30)

This scene occurs just after Faustus has declared his intention to give his soul for Mephistopheles. But unlike Faustus, Robin is not so easily bought. Even though he desperately needs some cash flow, he does not want to belong to Wagner. In a way, even though he's a bit of a doofus, Robin is a lot stronger than Faustus, at least, for now.

Act 2, Scene 3

I am Covetousness, begotten of an old churl in a leather bag; and, might I now obtain my wish, this house, you, and all should turn to gold, that I might lock you safe into my chest. O my sweet gold! (2.3.120-123)

Ah Covetousness, you're so eloquent, able to capture the essence of greed in just a few words. According to this Sin, truly greedy people view their whole world in terms of wealth. A house is worth gold and can be turned into gold, but for the truly greedy, so can people. Talk about a one-track mind.

Act 4, Scene 4

Ha, ha, ha! Faustus hath his leg again, and the horse-courser a bundle of hay for his forty dollars. (4.4.40-42)

Faustus's interaction with the horse-dealer doesn't exactly make him look like a good person. He has tricked the poor guy into paying forty bucks for an enchanted bundle of hay (that currently looks like a horse) for no other reason than he thought it was funny. You know what, Dr. F? You're a bully.

Act 5, Scene 1

I think my master means to die shortly.
He has made his will and given me his wealth:
His house, his goods, and store of golden plate,
Besides two thousand ducats ready coined.
I wonder what he means. (5.1.1-5)

Rich guys like Faustus usually willed their belongings to family members. The fact that Faustus's servant inherits his estate shows just how topsy turvy everything has become since Mephistopheles came around. The little devil told Faustus to avoid marriage, and now here he is, heirless and dying. Well, he made his bed. Now Wagner will get to lie in it.