Emily Kolb Blog Entry 1

So the story of Faustus immediately reminded me of the story of Adam and Eve, their stories are very similar. Looking at Faust and Eve, the fundamental similarities are all there: both make the mistake of wanting more knowledge, both are tempted by the devil, both are cast out of paradise.

So thinking about this in terms of the rebel, Eve could certainly called the first rebel. But then this brings up the old questions about that story: Could Eve done wrong if sin hadn't been introduced to the world yet? Isn't sin wrongness? Then how could she have known what she was doing was wrong? Is she then innocent?

Which makes me wonder about our definition of rebel. Does the term rebel imply intention? Can someone rebel inadvertently, or do they have to make that choice? Is rebellion an act or an intention? And furthermore, is someone a rebel if they attempt rebellion and that is fruitless, are they still a rebel? (How this relates to Marlowe: ??????)

The other thing I'm curious about is Faust's theism. It seems obvious that he is a theist (there's the devil, right in front of him) but then he doubts the existence of hell? If he has genuine doubt, does this doubt in God take him further away from God or actually closer? Where this becomes interesting to me is when Mephistophalis is answering Faust's questions about astronomy. He stops short of telling Faust who created the universe (obviously, in the world of this play, God). Why would he do this? Would his answering truthfully be a deal-breaker in Faust selling his soul? Does Mephistophalis see Faust's doubt and is this not answering an attempt to keep him doubting? That seems kind of weak. (Mostly because the answer seems apparent, and also because Faust struggling with doubt of the existence of God, if there were a God, would likely bring him closer to heaven rather than farther)
Another reason might be that this answer would reveal the limit of Faust's powers, should he agree. He can seek to be as powerful as God, but he will never make the cosmos. Would answering this question reveal the (we eventually learn) illusory nature of the power Lucifer is able to give Faustus? (Or is it that Mepthistophalis can't utter God's name?)

I'm definitely interested in how Faust's desire is a desire to be more like God, and then the implications of this act.

There is an idea bouncing around in my head about Marlowe possibly trying to make a point about God's nature (if there is a God). If man is made in God's image, and then man is given the power of God- then what man does must be what God does. They are one in the same. Is Marlowe saying something about someone with all this knowledge just picking on people? Is he suggesting that belief in God is belief in a malicious (or at least not all-benevolent) being?
What happens to Faust's lofty goals? Is it the gaining of power that makes them go away? Why? Is it because it seems that the powers he was promised are really just illusory, so he becomes bored?

Is it a painting of a cruel and confusing God? Both with the story of being cast out of Eden and of Faust (and others? Tower of Babel comes to mind). Perhaps Marlowe is suggesting that knowledge is not really power, to know everything in the world doesn't do much. When then is God so unforgiving about the thirst for knowledge? Is it a picture of a childish God? Unsure of himself? Why is knowledge what casts us out of heaven?

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Lots of good questions in this post. I'll be interested to see which questions you eventually answer, which ones fall by the wayside, and which ones remain unanswered. Once you reveal the historical context of theatre at Marlowe's time, I think you'll find several compelling (possibly contradictory) answers to some of these questions. For example, perhaps knowledge is power, but knowledge of what? Power over what? Why does Marlowe want power? Does he really have any power? Does the knowledge he gained from his education make him different, or more powerful, from Shakespeare (who never went to college and certainly didn't have a formal Masters degree)?

GRADE: 100%

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