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Compare Hamlet And Faustus

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The choices we make in life are said to reflect the type of person we are. The struggle between what is right, wrong and what must be done embraces every human throughout the course of our existence. In every piece of literature a writer illustrates his characters persona by the choices he has to make throughout the story. There has been no better example of a protagonist inner struggle than that of Hamlet or Doctor Faustus. Hamlet, a play written by William Shakespeare, is a tale of a prince who is plagued by the decision to take revenge on his uncle, an uncle who murdered his father and took over the throne. Christopher Marlowe was the author of Doctor Faustus a story about a magician who sells his soul to the devil in exchange for twenty-four years of greatness, and although he has thoughts of repentance he is eventually taken to hell. While both Hamlet and Doctor Faustus have two totally different stories, each play theme exhibits the souls thirst for power, uncertainty, and ultimate surrender to the dark side.

Shakespeare exquisitely represents the internal battle between good and evil in Hamlet. As Hamlet contemplates revenge on his malevolent uncle, who coldheartedly killed Hamlets father the king for a spot on the throne, his soul slowly slips into despair. Hamlet increasingly distrusts the world around him, telling his love Ophelia, “for virtue cannot so inoculate our old stock but we shall relish it,” meaning that he believes everyone to be evil in some way or another (Shakespeare, 2004, III i). He even admits that he it going crazy, “It hath made mad.”(Shakespeare, 2004, III i). Throughout the story he painstakingly plots his revenge finally, killing his uncle and losing his own life. Doctor Faustus is another novel that takes an in depth look into the human conscience. Not only does it depict the souls urge for power but it also questions the morals of a human heart, “If we say that we have no sin, “We deceive ourselves, and there’s no truth in us. Why then belike we must sin, and so consequently die.” (Marlowe, 2001, 1.42-45) Faustus agrees to sell his soul to Lucifer to become powerful on earth. Although he questions his decision, the allure of power was ultimately too much for him and he loses his soul for the appeal of twenty-four years of greatness on Earth.

Power is very often the path to a person’s downfall as revealed in Hamlet and Doctor Faustus. Both Claudius (Hamlet’s devious uncle) and Faustus had a hunger for supremacy, so much so, that it blinded their ultimate goal. The ghost of Hamlets father accused his brother Claudius of stealing the throne, “Thus was I, sleeping, by a brother’s hand of life, of crown, of queen at once dispatched,” (Shakespeare, 2004, V i), proving his thirst for power. Even though Claudius had achieved his objective of becoming King, when he suspects that his nephew knows the truth of how Claudius killed his brother, he plans to murder Hamlet as well. It is this decision that leads to his eventual demise. Claudius becomes stubborn and impatient, when his first plot to kill Hamlet fails, he slyly plans another. He orders Laertes to duel Hamlet and kill him, and is ironically and poetically killed by the poisoned blade he intended to be used for his nephew. Faustus, much like Claudius, is consumed by his appetite for power and is also ironically and poetically taken in the end. He willingly sells his soul to the devil in exchange for twenty-four years of service from one of Lucifer’s minions (Mephastophilis). Although Faustus plans on achieving many great goals during his twenty-four years on Earth, his arrogance lead him to become a mere magician, playing practical jokes, and doing magic tricks for the excitement of onlookers. He becomes delusional believes himself to be all powerful until the end when he realizes that he is only a man “What art thou, Faustus, but a man condemned to die?” (Marlowe, 2001, 10.24). Faustus only tries to repent when it is too late, he had many chances throughout the story, and yet because he was greedy and foolish he lost his soul and was dragged into hell.

Throughout Doctor Faustus, many opportunities for him to repent present themselves. Mephastophilis himself, having pity on Faustus warns him against selling his soul, giving Faustus his own illustration of hell, saying “Think’st thou that I, who saw the face of God, And tasted the eternal joys of heaven, Am not tormented with ten thousand hells In being deprived of everlasting bliss? O Faustus, leave these frivolous demands. “ (Marl owe, 2001,3.76-86). Yet, no matter how many times Mephastophilis warns him, Faustus non-chalantly pushes him aside admitting that he believes hell to be a simple fable regardless of the fact that he had sold his soul. Faustus’ pride forbids him from repenting and yet we know he is uncertain of his impending doom with the appearance of the good angel and bad angel on Faustus, shoulders. These angels exemplify his interior battle with good and evil, but he outwardly pretends not to care. He also questions the coagulation of his blood before signing over his soul (Marlowe, 2001, 5.77). It is clear that Hamlet also deeply deliberates within himself on whether he should avenge his father’s spirit when he states that, “The time is out of joint: O cursed spite / That ever I was born to set it right!”(Shakespeare, 2004, I v). He slips slowly in to madness even contemplating suicide, “To be, or not to be: that is the question.”(Shakespeare, 2004, III i). At least Hamlet has somewhat of a conscience, he knows what he has to do and dreads it, Faustus only cares about the fact that he sold his soul when he’s



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