Tag Archives: Doctor Faustus

A Literary History of the Insult “Cuck”

“Cuck” has become a favorite insult amongst alt-right types. In today’s post I trace literary references to cuckolds going back to Chaucer.

Posted in Chaucer (Geoffrey), Marlowe (Christopher), Shakespeare (William), Wycherley (William) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trump’s Faustian Emptiness

Donald Trump has a lot in common with Doctor Faustus: both are narcissists who create hells for themselves by being unable to reach out beyond themselves.

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How to Make All Your Fantasies Come True

In high school I learned, from Jacques Offenbach’s opera “Tales of Hoffman,” how to make all my sexual fantasies come true. It took several decades of married life to fully embrace his insight.

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The GOP’s Faustian Bargain with Trump

New York Times columnist David Brooks says that the GOP is striking a Faustian bargain by collaborating with Donald Trump. Christopher Marlowe shows the price that is paid for dealing with the devil and also tells us how one can get one’s soul back.

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Aristotle Changed the Way Europe Thought

In “Aristotle’s Children,” Richard Rubenstein gets us to rethink the Faith-Reason and Religion-Science splits. When Aristotle revolutionized the High Middle Ages, Church leaders and thinkers tried to reconcile the tensions. Knowing this has me rethinking Marlowe, Shakespeare, and Donne.

Posted in Aristotle, Donne (John), Marlowe (Christopher), Plato, Shakespeare (William) | Also tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Shakespeare Was Malvolio

Recent research shows how much of a social climber Shakespeare was. The knowledge gives us new insight into characters like Malvolio and Othello.

Posted in Austen (Jane), Marlowe (Christopher), Shakespeare (William) | Also tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Envy, the Sin That Blinds

In this week’s poker essay by novelist Rachel Kranz, envy is described as the one deadly sin that gives no pleasure at all.

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Doctor Faustus: Lessons in Grieving

After watching two students turn to Marlowe’s “Doctor Faustus” as they grieved the death of parents, I have come to see the play as a powerful meditation upon how we respond to death.

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Please Go Gentle into That Good Night

Dylan Thomas’s “Do Not Go Gentle” can be read as a narcissistic desire by young people that their elders will go out on young people’s terms.

Posted in Marlowe (Christopher), Thomas (Dylan), Tolstoy (Leo) | Also tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Is Don Draper a Modern Faustus?

In the finale of “Mad Men,” Draper may enter into yet another Faustian bargain, trading a vision of peace for a catchy Coca-Cola jingle.

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Lear: Finding Love in Adversity

Both “Doctor Faustus” and “King Lear” teach us the silver lining in adversity, “Faustus” in a negative way, “Lear” in a positive.

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Are the Gods Out to Destroy Manziel?

The epic fail in Johnny Manziel’s first NFL start invites Sophoclean analogies. Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus also comes to mind.

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Robin Williams Made Poetry Cool

Robin Williams gave us one of cinema’s greatest depictions of a literature teacher.

Posted in Marlowe (Christopher), Thoreau (Henry David), Whitman (Walt) | Also tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Manziel: Whom the Gods Would Destroy…

Johnny Manziel has “Greek tragic hero” written all over him.

Posted in Marlowe (Christopher), Sophocles | Also tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

How Teachers Can Make Lit Real

The “so what” question is vital if students are to make their responses to literature real.

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Sin = Separation from Creation

Seeing sin more as human separateness from creation than as disobeying God may be a more powerful way to teach the concept to today’s students.

Posted in Marlowe (Christopher), Milton (John) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Faustus’s Soul and a Grieving Student

This past year I have learned, in a new and powerful way, that the Faustus legend is a powerful exploration of the meaning of life and death. This is thanks to Caitie Harrigan, a senior at St. Mary’s who has been writing her senior project on the legend. As Caitie told me recently, she never […]

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Death, Faustus, and a Search for Meaning

The Faustus story can aid one in an existential search for meaning.

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Is Mitt Romney a Doctor Faustus?

If Mitt Romney sells his soul for the nomination, can he get it back? Christopher Marlowe would say that it doesn’t look good.

Posted in Austen (Jane), Marlowe (Christopher) | Also tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Classic Lit and Transformative Epiphanies

A student wrote, “By forcing myself to examine my ideas and Dr. Faustus more carefully and within the lens of my experience, I had several epiphanies that I feel were transformative both to my essay as well as to my understanding of my experience with depression.”

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Faustus, Case Study of a Depressive

Today I share the story of a student making the case that Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus is a case study of a depressive.

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Hell, an Inner Emptiness that Can’t Be Filled

“I think Hell is a fable,” Doctor Faustus tells Mephastophilis at one point in Marlowe’s 1593 tragedy. While many Elizabethans would have disagreed—the play terrified them precisely because they believed in a literal hell—we’re more sympathetic with the notion now. To most of us, fire and brimstone and devils with pitchforks are the stuff of […]

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Soul-Selling for Dummies

    How do I sell my soul? Let me count the ways. I wrote in Sunday’s entry how the ego and the soul are pitted against each other in an unending battle. Just think how much better off we’d all be if humans listened to their higher selves and ego took a back seat. […]

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The Hell of Ego, the Heaven of Love

Spiritual Sunday A reader’s response to Friday’s post on the Faustus story has me thinking more about Marlowe’s marvelous play. Marlowe informs us that we don’t need to die to go to hell. If we refuse to listen to the voice of our soul, we can find hell right here on earth. If there were […]

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Films that Mishandle the Faustus Story

Film Friday The baseball playoffs, which concluded with a San Francisco win over the Texas Rangers this past week, have had me thinking about the Faustus story and how many modern renditions of the story get it wrong. If this seems like a leap, let me explain. The Texas Rangers used to be the Washington […]

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The Faustian Bargain of Juan Williams

I was upset to hear about Juan Williams and National Public Radio parting company the other day because of comments that Williams made on Fox Network’s Bill O’Reilly Show. The affair got me thinking about Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus for reasons I’ll explain in a moment. We say all kinds of stupid things in the […]

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Mix and Match: Mysticism American Style

There was an interesting Lenten column in the New York Times Monday. Ross Douthat, a conservative in the best sense, draws on a Commonweal article by theologian Luke Timothy Johnson criticizing contemporary spiritual practice in this country. From the way Douthat quotes him, it sounds as though Johnson might take exception with my criticism of harsh […]

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Sinning: A Tacky Floor Show

There’s a funny scene in the original Bedazzled (the 1967 film with Dudley Moore, not the one with Adam Sandler) where Moore, having sold his soul to the devil, is watching a particularly tawdry floor show in a seedy bar where he can’t get good service.  As I recall the film, the seven deadly sins […]

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On Lent, Faustus, and the 7 Deadly Sins

Dr. Faustus, Rembrandt etching       Here we are in the midst of Lent with less than a month to go until Easter.  Sir Gawain and the Green Knight describes the season as follows: After Christmas there came the cold cheer of Lent, When with fish and plainer fare our flesh we reprove . . . The […]

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Trusting that Good Can Come from Ill

Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus What have I learned about literature and pain this past week? First, that writers have taken up the topic, just as they take up every aspect of human existence. They imagine what it is like to feel pain and, through poetic images and fictional stories, convey that experience to readers. By entering […]

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