Annotated Bibliography: "The Nature of Evil in Doctor Faustus"

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Smith, Warren D. "The Nature of Evil in Doctor Faustus." Modern Humanities Research Association 60.2 (1965): 171-75. JSTOR. Web.

This article looks mainly at the frivolity of Faust's actions in his 24-years. It posits that Faust's actions suggest that sin is trivial, that Faust's illusions of grandeur about all the things he'll be able to do with this power reveal that the act of sinning is never as weighty, or important, or fun as we think it might be.
The author responds to suggestions of others that the middle part of Faust, especially parts that involve the silly pranks he plays on people, weren't actually written by Marlowe. That they so starkly contrast the beautiful rhetoric and poetry and the weight of the ideas in the beginning and end of the play, that they must be written by a different author. Smith, however, posits that Marlowe's point is that sin is petty in nature. That the act of sinning should be in stark contrast to the heavy theological questions implied at the beginning and end.
The author also suggests that the smallness of scope of the 7 deadly sins is central to the play. That the parade of the sins reveals their small desires, and then Faust manifests this smallness throughout the play, expressing each of the sins in 24-year journey. And it is through this journey as well that Faust learns the smallness strength that the power provided by a pact with the devil allows, and that it is perhaps at this realization that Faust chooses to repent. All this, Smith argues, serves to suggest that the middle part of Faust is an important and purposeful representation of Marlowe's ideas about sin.

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