Study Guide

Doctor Faustus Act 2, Scene 1

By Christopher Marlowe

Act 2, Scene 1

  • Back in Faustus land, our main man wonders if he hasn't made a Big Fat Mistake. Should he return to God?
  • Probably not, he thinks. God doesn't love him, and he'll probably be better off continuing to serve the devil instead. 
  • That pesky Bad Angel encourages him to keep pursuing the dark arts, while Good Angel thinks Faustus should be focusing on heaven. 
  • But think of the honor and wealth, Bad Angel tells him. At which Faustus's ears perk right up. 
  • Enter Mephistopheles, who's back with the news that Lucifer has agreed to Faustus's terms, as long as Faustus will sign a legal document giving Lucifer his soul. Oh, and it has to be written in blood. Ouch. 
  • What's that all about, Faustus wants to know. 
  • Misery loves company, that's what. Mephistopheles tells Faustus that Lucifer likes to win souls so he can have someone to hang with, down in Hell.
  • Sounds about right. So Faustus cuts his arm in an attempt to write the document, but his blood congeals. Gross.
  • You know what's a really great idea when you're bleeding profusely from the arm? Fire. 
  • Okay, that's only a good idea if the blood gushing from your arm has congealed and needs to be melted. Luckily, that's exactly what has happened here. So Meph goes for some fire. 
  • While he's tracking down some flames, Faustus is left alone with his thoughts. And they aren't good. 
  • He wonders if the whole blood-congealing-so-he-can't-sign-away-his-soul-in-legalese thing is an omen, or a sign. Maybe his blood doesn't want him to sell his soul. 
  • Faustus signs the document anyway. Good move, dude.
  • A mysterious inscription, homo fuge—"man, flee"—appears on his arm. Uh, flee? 
  • Where exactly is Faustus supposed to flee to? He knows that if he flies to heaven, God will throw him down to hell.
  • Well this isn't good. Mephistopheles fetches a parade of devils to distract Faustus.
  • Which of course works (our Faustus sure is an easy target). Enchanted by what he has seen, he reads aloud his contract with Lucifer, gives it to Mephistopheles, and asks the devil to tell him the quickest way to hell. And they say men don't like to ask for directions!
  • Mephistopheles is all, duh, dude, hell is where the damned are. When the world ends, all places that are not heaven will be hell.
  • And when Faustus tells good ol' Meph that hell sounds like an old fable to him, Meph's all, hello? I'm a devil. Of course hell exists. Where do you think I came from? 
  • Time to change the subject: Faustus commands Mephistopheles to fetch him a wife.
  • Then, when Mephistopheles comes back with a "woman devil" Faustus rejects her, prompting Meph to tell Faustus to forget about marriage in favor of sex. 
  • Then he gives Faustus a book of magic spells.