Dr. Faustus and The Seven Cardinal Sins

Okay, so it’s been a long, long, long time since I last wrote a post here. But I’ve been busy. You know, studies and PitchWars and writing and participating in NaNoWriMo. Anyway, I was reading The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe (not by choice, the damn Elizabethan plays and their diction of thou and thy and things like that). And while reading it, one scene struck me from others. It was scene VI, where after making a deal with the Devil, Faustus was busy studying stuff with Mephistopheles. 

At ime point, his conscience arrives and tries to get him back to the “path of righteousness” but in vain. The lust avd greediness in him win again. Anyhoo, Mephistopheles realizes what’s happening and so off he goes to fetch distraction for Faustus.

It was the introduction of the Seven Deadly Sins. Lust, Sloth, Gluttony, Pride, Covetousness, Anger, and Jealousy. They, one by one, introduce themselves to Faustus and tell him about themselves. 
And almost like a kick in the groin, Marlowe was showing us how Faustus, despite meeting his own deadly sins, was unable to recognize them. 

Think about it. Faustus had it all. 

  • He had pride because he, at the beginning, was showing pride while pondering over which subject to choose to study in. Not only that, at some points, he boasts himself of being “a conjurer laureate” and vice versa. 
  • He had covetousness aka greed. He, at the beginning, considered taking physic or medical studies. Don’t get carried away, he did not want to take it to do good to others. He wanted it to “heap up gold and fame”. It was also this greed that made him do the deal. He also wished to have books of immense knowledge, gold and fruits in abundande from all over the world.
  • He had wrath for he often showed it to Mephistopheles who, at the beginning, tolerated it. When Benvolio taunted Faustus, he uses his magical power and grows antlers on Benvolio’s head. He also sets demons after the Old Man who advises him not to commit sins and thus angers him.
  • He had lechery for he sought Helen of Troy as his wife and when he wasn’t allowed to get married, he sought a whore. 
  • He had sloth for he, unlike Aristotle whom he revered, wasn’t that hardworking. Aristotle toiled away years after years in researching and studying and that was when he gained knowledge. Faustus wanted it overnight by dealing with the Devil. 
  • He had jealousy for he was jealous of the Emperor, the Pope and once even towards God. How stupid, right?
  • He had gluttony for he, on the last year of his life, arranges a feast with his students and others where he indulges in ‘food and wine enough for an army’. Wow! That’s a whole lot of gluttony!

And from this scene, you can clearly see two things:

01) How Lucifer and others were openly mocking Faustus and his stupidity and shallowness and blindness. He saw all the seven sins and learned about them. They were presented before him like courtiers to a king. Yet he didn’t detect those sins in his actions and thoughts. By this, Lucifer and his demons were ckeatlu mocking and taunting Faustus’s “wisdom”. 

02) How often we see our sims right before us yet are blinded by them so much as to not realize them. When we are yelling and screaming, we are busy yelling and screaming, not realizing how angry we are and how bad it is for us. When we are jealous of someone, we are busy envyinv them and wishing for their ill fortune. Not trying to banish it. 

Through this just one scene, Marlowe said it all. Exceptional, exceptional writing. I haven’t read Macbeth yet but I’m impressed. Damn the Elizabethan dictions but this was pure gold.

That is what writers do. That is what God do too with us. 

After all, isn’t God also a writer?


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