Fateful acceptance

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The first time I read Faustus, it was pretty much completely lost on me (as were most things I read in high school). I enjoyed the read this time around, although to be honest I found the footnotes distracting to my comprehension of the text (by stopping to read the footnotes I’d lose my flow in a soliloquy and have to start again, etc). Marlowe writes some good stuff, but he’s just not Shakespeare …

Format-wise, these questions are going to be half question, half reflection because that’s just the way I think … so here it goes into the foray of Faustus.

1. What function do the quotes in the play serve? (When I say ‘quotes’, I mean the italicized print – for instance, Faustus says¬†que sera, sera¬†(p. 79) and the first scene is full of textual references in their original language. So I guess what I’m really asking is, was it customary for scholars to refer to other texts? Or is it a character trait?

2. What role does the Chorus/Wagner play in our understanding of the play? Apart from conversing with other characters, Wagner also opens some scenes with a speech about Faustus’ actions…

3. The end of the play struck me as strange the first time I read it years ago and still strikes me as strange today. I could ask any number of questions but Charlotte brought up a really interesting point when she said there was no struggle, they simply ‘exeunt’. In the A version the play ends with the chorus making a short speech about Faustus’ fall, but the B version has a little post-death dialogue between the scholars which I actually really like. I suppose the actual question here is, what stylistic choices has Marlowe made at the end of this dramatic play? Are they intended to bring the story to a close, or to shock readers, or a bit of both?

4. The one thing that really stuck out to me was Faustus’ full knowledge and eventual acceptance of his fate. This ties into his lack of struggle before he dies as well – he knows what’s going to happen, but my question is, why doesn’t he try to fight it? This may seem like a somewhat shallow question but I think there’s something more behind it. Faustus is an educated man – for him to just lose hope and give in to his fate seems questionable.

That’s all I have tonight! This is only a few hours late …