Handout on Marlowe's Doctor Faustus

English 203

Dr. Fike


First Hour


  1. The ars moriendi tradition:

        Professor's Remarks:  many treatises, psychomachia, works, other facts.

        Discussion:  What do you see in the two woodcuts?

o       "The devil's temptation to despair"

o       "The angel's good inspiration against despair"


  1. As you read the play, look for passages that relate to one of the temptations listed below.  Work in pairs outside of class and come prepared to make a brief presentation to the class.







  1. Construction of a chart:  Faustus's psychomachia clearly includes the five temptations and the opposing virtues, but can we also include other paired oppositions to illustrate his choices? 


  1. What can we say about Faustus's damnation in connection with the ars moriendi tradition?

        Consider the reference to the thief on the cross from the ars moriendi tradition in relation to Faustus's certainty that he is damned:  is he or isn't he?

        What is the role of delight in Faustus's damnation?

        See the Old Man's speech, especially the two lines beginning "Yet, yet" for a connection to the ars moriendi tradition.     



Second Hour


  1.  What are the stages of Faustus's journey?  Put the following in the correct order:

        The challenge to religious power

        The reckoning

        The disintegration of power

        The contract

        The decision


  1. What warnings does Faustus receive?


  1. How is he cheated?


  1. Do Faustus's achievements measure up to his intentions?


  1. Why did Marlowe include Wagner, Robin, and Dick?  What scenes illustrate your answer?  How would you respond to the claim that the middle of the play is irrelevant?Why did Marlowe include Wagner, Robin, and Dick?  What scenes illustrate your answer?


  1. What is up with all the allusions to Helen?  How are these a commentary on Faustus?