Hamlet And Dr. Faustus: Questioning Term Paper


He tests the ghost's word by staging a play that will replicate the method by which Claudius killed his father, and swears he'll "take the ghost's word at a thousand pound," but rather than engage in bloody violence like a savage, he cannot bear to stab Claudius in the back (III.2). Instead, he constructs a feeble excuse as to why he cannot, showing that for Hamlet, the ethics of revenge, if not Claudius' evil are always in doubt. For Faustus, the power of not being seen, of play-acting and pageantry and the ability to have power over another man of life and death are never with a higher purpose, and also never to be ignored and not taken advantage of: "But now, that Faustus may delight his minde,/and by their folly make some merriment,/Sweet Mephasto: so charme me here,/That I may walke inuisible to all, and doe what ere I please, vnseene of any" (III.2). The ability to doubt and to question both the supernatural and his own character above all else is what makes Hamlet a more interesting character, and a more moral individual than Faustus in contemporary as well as Renaissance terms. Faustus, given the power of invisibility, joyfully torments the Pope for fun, while Hamlet's invisibility inspires the prince to muse about the ethics of his apparently duty-bound task to kill. Hamlet goes back and forth, at once whipping himself into a state of vengeance upon the sight of Fortinbras who is going to war for a tiny patch of land in the name of his father's honor, then ruefully recognizing: "That to Laertes I forgot myself; / for, by the image of my cause, I see/the portraiture of his" because of his accidental murder of Laertes' own father Polonius (VI.2). Faustus' selfish quest ultimately reveals him to be a man impressed with shallow beauty and trinkets and power, not insight, although...


Faustus never sought out what was right; he sought only to please himself. With ultimate power, Faustus plays jokes on the Pope and conjures up images of sinfulness, and when given a choice between salvation and desire, he chooses a false image of Helen: "Her lips sucke forth my soule, see where it flies" (5.1)
Hamlet realizes that murder only leads to more murder, thus he says "let be," when called to a duel, and when he enacts vengeance, it is more in self-defense rather than in cold, calculated vengeance, or stabbing a man in the back. Although Hamlet dies, he dies in triumph, knowing that Horatio will reveal the truth to the world of what happened to his father. Caught in an evil world of court intrigue, Hamlet at least dies a moral man, a man who has given his life significance because of his ability to question the ethics that govern his society, even seem to govern the world beyond. Faustus, in contrast, claims not to be satisfied with the rewards of knowledge gained from books, but uses his intellect in a way that leads him down a path of hollow pleasures, and ultimately damnation. His damnation is evident from the first moment he sells his soul, but Hamlet's moral position is always unclear, much like moral decisions in the world outside of the theater.

Works Cited

Marlowe, Christopher. The Tragedie of Doctor Faustus (B text) Edited by Hilary Binda.

Tufts University Retrieved 7 Feb 2008 at http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.03.0011&query=act%3D%231

Shakespeare, William. "The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark." The Shakespeare

Homepage: MIT University. Retrieved 7 Feb 2008 at http://shakespeare.mit.edu/hamlet

Cite this Document:

"Hamlet And Dr Faustus Questioning" (2008, February 07) Retrieved February 22, 2024, from

"Hamlet And Dr Faustus Questioning" 07 February 2008. Web.22 February. 2024. <

"Hamlet And Dr Faustus Questioning", 07 February 2008, Accessed.22 February. 2024,

Related Documents

That is, Ophelia is limited to seeing herself through the eyes of others, and men in particular, having achieved no core identity of her own. Her brother Laertes could easily today also be a modern-day "organization man," as could have been his father Polonius before him), that is, listening to higher authority and then acting to please that authority, without thinking or reflecting on the wisdom or efficacy, generally

Of course, Hamlet would then likely assume the throne, but Hamlet seems to have little interest in ruling, as he scoffs when Guildenstern and Rosencrantz say that it is his frustrated ambition that makes him melancholic. Hamlet is a rational and philosophical individual, hence his constant self-searching about the nature of the ghost, about the possibility of an afterlife that no traveler may return (if the ghost is a

Hamlet" by William Shakespeare The play "Hamlet" by William Shakespeare has a story that revolves around the main themes of revenge and search for the truth. Shakespeare's male characters, in particular, are portrayed somewhat villainously because of the element of revenge inherent in each character's motivations in the play. Among the male characters in the play, the characters of Hamlet, Laertes, and Fortinbras emerge as the most remarkable among the

Hamlet The play "Hamlet" by William Shakespeare contains a rich diversity of issues and relationships, some of the greatest of which concern those between father and son. These relationships, most notably those between Hamlet and the late King Hamlet, Fortinbras and Old Fortinbras, and Polonius and Laertes, demonstrate a number of significant, unique characteristics as well as several themes that are both timeless and universal. The first evidence of father/son conversation occurs

The gravediggers are named clowns but they jest upon the macabre issue of Ophelia's Christian burial. They highlight once more the existential issue of death, only that they question man's freedom to choose life or death. Comic relief is needed, because the play is coming towards its end and in order for readers to experience catharsis they should not be burdened excessively with emotional tension. The scene in the cemetery shows

Hamlet in the Play Hamlet

A hop'd thou shouldst have been my Hamlet's wife; thought thy bride-bed to have deck'd, sweet maid, And not have strew'd thy grave (V.1.244-247). When Hamlet is feigning madness and wishes to tweak Laertes, he claims to have loved Ophelia, though his actions previously have not shown much love for her: lov'd Ophelia. Forty thousand brothers Could not (with all their quantity of love) Make up my sum. What wilt thou do for her? (V.1.280-282). Laertes