Compare Faustus and Robin. Faustus is relatively high up in the class hierarchy and is literate. His unnatural craving for learning sends him down the dark path, yet an implicit God-fearing nature continually paralyzes him and almost makes him seek repentance. This struggle distracts Faustus so much that he can't even seem to come up with any good ideas on how to use his demonic powers. His world tour and attack on The Pope are both instigated by mephistophales.
On the other hand, Robin is base and cannot read, yet he has some very concrete ideas on what he would do with such powers if he could have them. So, essentially, is the revolutionary athiestic Marlowe actually reaffirming the status quo, affirming the goodliness of a God at the top of the social order, as well as the idea that higher status people are closer to this God? It would seem that the real tragedy that his juxtopositions of Faust and Robin is intended to unveil is the fact that a hunger for learning disrupts this order; that the upper class is literate because, theoretically, they can handle the responsibility while those below them cannot. But then is Marlowe also attacking the idea of reading and learning, or is he merely having a go at the power-obsessed university professors that he so often escaped from at Cambridge?
Last Edit: May 14, 2002 22:12:32 GMT -5 by shaxper
"Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments will hum about mine ears; and sometimes voices, that, if I then had wak'd after long sleep, will make me sleep again; and then, in dreaming, the clouds methought would open and show riches ready to drop upon me, that, when I wak'd, I cried to dream again"
I think Faustus is commenting on the danger of knowing too much. As with power, with great knowledge comes great responsibility. Yet, also like power, knowledge brings with it great temptation. Knowing so much often leads people to believe that they know everything. Faustus falls into this trap. Even though Mephistopheles is himself proof of hell's existence, Faustus still holds that hell is only an illusion created by the masses. All Faustus' learning cannot help him with faith. It is his doubt that undoes him, not necessarily his greed. If he was greedy, yet had faith in a real heaven and hell, he would better feel the consequences of his actions and understand his own damnation. It is his doubt that blinds him. And this doubt stems from his excess of knowledge-- knowledge that sheds little light on heaven and hell. Facts cannot prove their existence. (Even the real presence of demons cannot cure Faustus from doubt.) Faith is something that comes from within-- Faustus lacks faith and is ultimately damned because of that.