What does Faustus really want?

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What does Faustus really want?

Faustus claims to want knowledge, but this desire is secondary to his real longing for power.

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In Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe, the title character claims to desire knowledge. He has studied everything from theology to medicine, logic to law, and he feels that he has exhausted what the world has to offer. Therefore, he begins to dabble in magic and ends up calling forth the demon Mephistophilis. Faustus recognizes an opportunity, and he tells the demon to bring an offer to Lucifer. If Mephistophilis will serve Faustus for twenty-four years, Faustus will give Lucifer his soul.

Already we can see that Faustus is only secondarily interested in knowledge. Certainly Mephistophilis provides Faustus with all sorts of information about the created world, and Faustus learns about history as well, as he conjures up such figures as Alexander the Great and Helen of Troy. But Faustus’s focus is no longer on knowledge. Rather, he wants power.

Faustus is thrilled by the power he has over other people thanks to Mephistophilis’s influence. He can play tricks on everyone, from his fellow academics to a horse courser to the pope. He can show that he is in control and revel in his dominance of any situation. He can even become invisible, and he uses that ability to create significant mischief.

Further, Faustus makes a name for himself with powerful people, including Charles V, for whom he conjures up Alexander the Great, and the noble Duke of Vanholt. Faustus is now in the company he desires. Through their power, he, too, has power. He can even give a knight antlers when the knight criticizes him.

But in the end, Faustus learns that he has no real power at all and that all of his knowledge has come to nothing. No one can help him in the end as the devils carry his soul off to hell.

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