Kirschbaum and Greg considered the A-text a " bad quarto ", and thought that the B-text was linked to Marlowe himself.
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Since then scholarship has swung the other way, most scholars now considering the A-text more authoritative, even if "abbreviated and corrupt", according to Charles Nicholl. The version omits 36 lines but adds new lines, making it roughly one third longer than the version. Among the lines shared by both versions, there are some small but significant changes in wording; for example, "Never too late, if Faustus can repent" in the text becomes "Never too late, if Faustus will repent" in the text, a change that offers a very different possibility for Faustus's hope and repentance.
Another difference between texts A and B is the name of the devil summoned by Faustus. Text A states the name is generally "Mephistopheles",  while the version of text B commonly states "Mephostophilis". The relationship between the texts is uncertain and many modern editions print both. As an Elizabethan playwright, Marlowe had nothing to do with the publication and had no control over the play in performance, so it was possible for scenes to be dropped or shortened, or for new scenes to be added, so that the resulting publications may be modified versions of the original script.
In the past, it was assumed that the comic scenes were additions by other writers. However, most scholars today consider the comic interludes an integral part of the play, regardless of their author, and so they continue to be included in print. Doctor Faustus is based on an older tale; it is believed to be the first dramatization of the Faust legend.
Johann Fausten , which itself may have been influenced by even earlier, equally ill-preserved pamphlets in Latin such as those that likely inspired Jacob Bidermann 's treatment of the damnation of the doctor of Paris, Cenodoxus Several soothsayers or necromancers of the late fifteenth century adopted the name Faustus , a reference to the Latin for "favored" or "auspicious"; typical was Georgius Faustus Helmstetensis , calling himself astrologer and chiromancer , who was expelled from the town of Ingolstadt for such practices.
Subsequent commentators have identified this individual as the prototypical Faustus of the legend. Whatever the inspiration, the development of Marlowe's play is very faithful to the Faust Book , especially in the way it mixes comedy with tragedy. However, Marlowe also introduced some changes to make it more original. He made three main additions:.
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He also emphasised Faustus' intellectual aspirations and curiosity, and minimised the vices in the character, to lend a Renaissance aura to the story. The play is in blank verse and prose in thirteen scenes or twenty scenes Blank verse is largely reserved for the main scenes while prose is used in the comic scenes. Modern texts divide the play into five acts; act 5 being the shortest. As in many Elizabethan plays, there is a chorus which functions as a narrator , that does not interact with the other characters but rather provides an introduction and conclusion to the play and, at the beginning of some Acts, introduces events that have unfolded.
Along with its history and language style, scholars have critiqued and analysed the structure of the play. Leonard H. Frey wrote a document entitled In the Opening and Close of Doctor Faustus , which mainly focuses on Faustus's opening and closing soliloquies. He stresses the importance of the soliloquies in the play, saying: "the soliloquy, perhaps more than any other dramatic device, involved the audience in an imaginative concern with the happenings on stage". The soliloquies also have parallel concepts.
In the introductory soliloquy, Faustus begins by pondering the fate of his life and what he wants his career to be.
He ends his soliloquy with the solution and decision to give his soul to the devil. Similarly in the closing soliloquy, Faustus begins pondering, and finally comes to terms with the fate he created for himself. Frey also explains: "The whole pattern of this final soliloquy is thus a grim parody of the opening one, where decision is reached after, not prior to, the survey". In the prologue, the Chorus introduces the reader to Faustus and his story. He is described as being "base of stock"; however, his intelligence and scholarship eventually earns him the degree of a Doctor at the University of Wittenburg.
During this opening, the reader also gets a first clue to the source of Faustus's downfall. Faustus's tale is likened to that of Icarus , who flew too close to the sun and fell to his death when the sun melted his waxen wings. This is a hint to Faustus's end as well as bringing to the reader's attention the idea of hubris excessive pride , which is represented in the Icarus story and ultimately Faustus'. Faustus comments that he has mastered every subject he has studied. He depreciates Logic as merely being a tool for arguing; Medicine as being unvalued unless it allowed raising the dead and immortality ; Law as being mercenary and beneath him; and Divinity as useless because he feels that all humans commit sin, and thus to have sins punishable by death complicates the logic of Divinity.
He dismisses it as "What doctrine call you this? Que sera, sera" What will be, shall be. Faustus instructs his servant Wagner to summon Valdes and Cornelius, a famous witchcrafter and a famous magician, respectively.
Two angels, called the Good Angel and the Bad Angel, appear to Faustus and dispense their own perspectives of his interest in magic and necromancy. Though Faustus seems momentarily dissuaded, he is apparently won over by the Bad Angel, proclaiming, "How am I glutted with conceit of this" "conceit" meaning the possibilities magic offers to him. Valdes and Cornnelius declare that if Faustus devotes himself to magic, great things are indeed possible with someone of Faustus' learning and intelligence. Faustus' absence is noted by two scholars who are less accomplished than Faustus himself.
They request that Wagner reveal Faustus' present location, a request which Wagner at first haughtily denies, then bombastically reveals. The two scholars worry about Faustus being corrupted by the art of Magic and leave to inform the rector of the university. That night, Faustus begins his attempt to summon a devil in the presence of Lucifer and other devils although Faustus is unaware of their presence. After he creates a magic circle and speaks an incantation through which he revokes his baptism, a demon a representative of the devil himself named Mephistophilis appears before him, but Faustus is unable to tolerate the hideous looks of the demon and commands it to change its appearance.
Faustus, seeing the obedience of the demon in changing its form, takes pride in his skill. He tries to bind the demon to his service, but is unable to because Mephistophilis already serves Lucifer, who is also called the Prince of Devils. Mephistophilis also reveals that it was not Faustus' power that summoned him but rather his abjuration of scriptures that results in the Devil coming in the hope of claiming Faustus' soul. Mephistophilis introduces the history of Lucifer and the other devils while indirectly telling Faustus that Hell has no circumference nor limit and is more of a state of mind than a physical location.
Faustus' inquiries into the nature of hell lead to Mephistophilis saying: "Oh, Faustus, leave these frivolous demands, which strikes a terror to my fainting soul". Using Mephistophilis as a messenger, Faustus strikes a deal with Lucifer: he is to be allotted 24 years of life on Earth, during which time he will have Mephistophilis as his personal servant and the ability to use magic; however, at the end he will give his body and soul over to Lucifer as payment and spend the rest of time as one damned to Hell. This deal is to be sealed in the form of a contract written in Faustus' own blood.
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After cutting his arm, the wound is divinely healed and the Latin words Homo, fuge! Mephistophilis brings coals to break the wound open again, and thus Faustus is able to take his oath written in his own blood. Faustus begins by asking Mephistophilis a series of science-related questions. However, the demon seems to be quite evasive and finishes with a Latin phrase, Per inoequalem motum respect totes "through unequal motion with respect to the whole thing".
This sentence has not the slightest scientific value, thus giving the impression that Mephistophilis is not trustworthy. Faustus then asks who made the world, a question which Mephistophilis refuses to answer Mephistophilis knows that God made the world. When Faustus announces his intention to renounce magic and repent, Mephistophilis storms away. The good and evil angels return to Faustus: the Good Angel urges him to repent and recant his oath to Lucifer, but the Evil Angel sneers that Faustus will never repent.
This is the largest fault of Faustus throughout the play: he is blind to his own salvation and remains set on his soul's damnation. Lucifer, accompanied by Beelzebub and Mephistophilis, appears to Faustus and frightens him into obedience to their pact. Lucifer then, as an entertainment, brings to Faustus the personification of the seven deadly sins.
Faustus fails to see them as warnings and ignores their implication. From this point until the end of the play, although he gains great fame for his powers, Dr.
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Faustus does nothing worthwhile, having begun his pact with the attitude that he would be able to do anything. Instead, he merely uses his temporary powers for practical jokes and frivolous demonstrations to the nobility. Finally, with his allotted 24 years mostly expired and realizing that he has given up his soul for no good reason, Faustus appears to scholars and warns them that he is damned and will not be long on the Earth. He gives a speech about how he is damned and eventually seems to repent for his deeds.