Below you will find five outstanding thesis statements for “Doctor Faustus” by Christopher Marlowe that can be used as essay starters or paper topics. All five incorporate at least one of the themes found in “Doctor Faustus” and are broad enough so that it will be easy to find textual support, yet narrow enough to provide a focused clear thesis statement. These thesis statements offer a short summary of “Doctor Faustus” by Christopher Marlowe in terms of different elements that could be important in an essay. You are, of course, free to add your own analysis and understanding of the plot or themes to them for your essay. Using the essay topics below in conjunction with the list of important quotes from “Doctor Faustus” at the bottom of the page, you should have no trouble connecting with the text and writing an excellent essay.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #1 : The Limits of Knowledge in Doctor Faustus
Dr. Faustus makes his deal with the devil because he is frustrated with the limits of human science, reason, understanding, and knowledge. One could argue, however, that Dr. Faustus did not really give science, reason, understanding and knowledge a chance. In fact, Dr. Faustus’s chief character flaw is that he wants the limits of knowledge and humanity to be expanded beyond what is reasonable. Marlowe’s play is a morality tale about wanting more than what is given to us. Through the character of Dr. Faustus, the reader learns that we must be satisfied with what is, rather than what we would like the world to be. For a more thorough examination of the forbidden quest for knowledge, check out on the limits and quest for knowledge in Doctor Faustus compared with Paradise Lost by Milton.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #2 : The Consequences of the Deal with the Devil
Dr. Faustus’s deal with the devil is characterized by Faustus’ rejection of God and Christian ideals. Despite numerous opportunities to turn back and seek redemption, Dr. Faustus is consumed by his desire to know and learn more than the boundaries of human knowledge permit. Each decision to move forward in the fulfillment of the dark pact pushes Dr. Faustus further away from the possibility of redemption. By examining the exact nature of their agreement, however, the reader sees that the pact is one that can never actually be beneficial for Dr. Faustus. Marlowe cautions the reader against such trade-offs, showing in the fate of Dr. Faustus that a pact with the devil will never reap true rewards. For more on this topic, you might want to read the freely accessible essay on sin and villainy in Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe and also, in conjunction with this, look at the essay on the presence of atheism in Doctor Faustus and forming a synthesis of these two ideas.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #3 : Magic Versus Science in Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe
One of the themes in Doctor Faustus involves the tension between magic and science. Dr. Faustus possesses all of the knowledge and skills to know the world as fully as a human being can, but he decides to immerse himself in the dark arts of magic in the hopes of learning more. The outcome of the play clearly asserts Marlowe’s belief that magic is inferior to science and the true mysteries of the Christian life. In this essay, the writer will examine the specific conflicts that Marlowe establishes between magic and science.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #4 : The Theme of The Divided Self in Doctor Faustus
Dr. Faustus is a divided soul, pulled between competing curiosities, needs, and interests. There are many binaries that are established in Marlowe’s play that reinforce this notion of the divided self. Some of these binaries include the good angel and the bad angel, God and the devil, and magic versus science. In this essay, the writer will examine the different binaries that Marlowe includes in his play, their functions, and the challenge that Dr. Faustus experiences—and which he never resolves—in trying to negotiate the divided self.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #5 The Decline and Depravity of Dr. Faustus
When Dr. Faustus acquires the magical powers that fascinate him so much and for which he was willing to sell his soul, what is compelling is the fact that he does not use these powers in the advancement of knowledge and understanding. Instead, Faustus uses his magical powers to play jokes and create trouble for others. The corruptibility of evil forces is evident. In this essay, the writer examines how Dr. Faustus experiences a fall from grace as an acclaimed scholar to a depraved individual.
Freely Accessible Articles that might interest you include : Paradise Lost by Milton : Is Satan as an Epic Hero? The Forbidden Quest for Knowledge in Doctor Faustus and Paradise Lost • The Theme of Atheism in Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe • The Role of Hypocrisy in Doctor Faustus and The Importance of Being Earnest • The Presence of Sin and Villainy in Doctor Faustus and Othello
This list of important quotations from “Doctor Faustus” by Christopher Marlowe will help you work with the essay topics and thesis statements above by allowing you to support your claims. All of the important quotes from Dr. Faustus listed here correspond, at least in some way, to the paper topics above and by themselves can give you great ideas for an essay by offering quotes and explanations about other themes, symbols, imagery, and motifs than those already mentioned and explained. Aside from the thesis statements above, these quotes alone can act as essay questions or study questions as they are all relevant to the text in an important way. All quotes from “Doctor Faustus” by Christopher Marlowe contain page numbers as well. Look at the bottom of the page to identify which edition of the text they are referring to.
“So much he profits in divinity/That shortly he was graced with doctor’s name/Excelling all, and sweetly can dispute/In th’ heavenly matters of theology…." (3)
“And glutted now with learning’s golden gifts/He surfeits upon cursed necromancy/Nothing so sweet as magic is to him/Which he prefers before his chiefest bliss/And this the man that in his study sits…." (4)
“The end of physic is our body’s health./Why Faustus hast thou not achieved that end?" (4)
“When all is done, divinity is best." (5)
“What will be, shall be. Divinity adieu!" (5)
“These metaphysics of magicians and negromantic books are heavenly." (6)"
“How pliant is this Mephostophilis, Full of obedience and humility. Such is the force of magic…." (13)
“I charge thee wait upon me whilst I live To do whatever Faustus shall command, Be it to make the moon drop from her sphere or the ocean to overwhelm the world." (13)
“Tell me, where is the place that men call hell?" (22)
“Ugly hell, gape not!" (82)
Marlowe, Christopher. Doctor Faustus. New York: Signet, 2001.