Damnation in Doctor Faustus

Theological Strip Tease and the Histrionic Hero

in Critical Survey
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  • 1 St Martin's College
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Generations of scholars and critics have gnawed at two juicy interpretative bones: why is Faustus damned, and when exactly does his fate become irrevocable? Using a rather tacky analogy, which is just about defensible on the grounds that death and what lies after death are now both taboo, and bare bodies are everywhere, I shall argue that, just as a stripper delays gratification, so, teasingly, the play flaunts a number of possible reasons why Faustus might be damned, yet never allows the audience the satisfaction of certainty, and that it is helped in this by having a self-dramatising hero.

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