Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Last Scene: Helen of Troy and the Old man in "Dr. Faustus"

Introduction: Faustus’s great final soliloquy consummates the play. The last scene of the play is the most poignant  The last scene, be it in the form of Helen’s presence or the final beseeching of  Doctor Faustus, makes Marlowe reach the flights imagination.  We may divide last scene of the play into three parts: First the Helen Episode, Second the Old Man and the Last soliloquy of Doctor Faustus. The three parts of the play make up the whole last scene to abide in our thoughts.

The Helen Episode: When ‘music sounds’ and Helen passes across the stage, her sanctity is mirrored in the awed calm of the scholars. Her “heavenly beauty passeth all compare” She is the pride of the nature’s work. Here outburst the eternal words of praise for Helen from Doctor Faustus who, in the most ravishing way, loses himself in the arms of Helen to avoid his imminent doom.

Was this the face that launce’d a thousand ships,
And burnt the topless towers of Ilium? -
Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss.
Her lips suck forth my soul: see where it flies!
Come, Helen, come, give me my soul again,
Here will I dwell, for heaven is in these lips,
And all is dross that is not Helena.
I will be Paris, and for love of thee.
Instead of Troy , shall Wittenberg be sack’d:
And I will combat with weak Menelaus,
And wear thy colors on my plumed crest;
Yes, I will wound Achilles in the heel,
And then return to Helen for a kiss.
O, thou art fairer than the evening air,
Clad in the beauty of a thousands starts;
Brighter art thou than flaming Jupiter

Faustus’s poetry for Helen shows his ultimate desperate condition and his futile effort to evade the eternal doom.
The Old man: Doctor Faustus is ‘But a man condemned to die.’ Soon after the appearance of Helen, the old man approaches Doctor Faustus to reconcile him. The Old Man’s compassionate advice to Faustus adds a new dimension to our senses of the human predicament.
Yet, yet, thou hast an amiable soul if sin by custom grows not into nature.
The Old Man is, rather the last man trying to      pull Faustus from the snaps of death. But           Faustus, as he is eternally doomed, must   reach his self-imposed torments of hell.
The Last hour: As Faustus’s fascination for Helen, ‘The only paragon of excellence’ reveals the Renaissance characteristics of love and adoration of classical art and beauty, Helen epitomizes the charms of classical art, learning and beauty. And her shade of apparition may also be the symbol of sensual pleasures of life which is but transient, and leads to despair and damnation. If it is so, the old man represents Christian faith with its obedience to the laws of God and its needs for prayer and penitence that can assure eternal joys and bliss.  Doctor Faustus knows that his end is approaching. The proud and puffed scholar of Wittenberg, who once dreamed of becoming a Jove on the earth, ironically craves to be transformed into some mean creature so as to escape his doom. And when the last hour strikes, we find the anguished cry of a terror-stricken man who is facing his damnation.

O, it strikes: No body turn to air,
Or Lucifer will bear thee quick to hell,
O, soul, be changed into little water drops.
And fall into the ocean, never be found!

Critics and scholars of one opinion that the last scene of the play is highly consummate and grim.

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