Literary Devices in Doctor Faustus
Marlowe uses the tension between comedy and drama to underscore the themes of the play. The beginning of the play consists of highly dramatic moments between Faustus, Mephistophilis, and the devil Lucifer as Faustus tries to decide whether or not he will sell his soul. However, as soon as he sells his soul the play becomes comedic. Faustus plays practical jokes on knights and the pope, and comedic low characters Robin and Ralph are introduced in order to parody the Faustian bargain. As the play comes to a close, the high drama of the beginning returns: Faustus falls ill and begins to regret his decisions. In this way, the majority of the play deals with how Faustus distracts himself from his inevitable damnation.
The dramatic scenes represent the main action of the play while the comedic scenes serve to help Faustus, and his audience, forget his inevitable damnation. The tension within the play comes from delaying the main conflict and building anticipation for the moment Faustus is dragged away to hell. Devices such as the use of psychomachia, or externalized struggle between one’s “good” and “bad” angels, add to this tension.
Literary Devices Examples in Doctor Faustus:
"Christ cannot save thy soul, for he is just; There's none but I have interest in the same. ..." See in text (Scene 5)
"extinguish clean These thoughts that do dissuade me from my vow..." See in text (Scene 12)
"let this hour be but A year, a month, a week, a natural day, That Faustus may repent and save his soul..." See in text (Scene 13)