Fate or free will? Some people believe in both someonly believe in only one. Others may believe in all of it. But a great example of fate versus free will is in the book Dr. Faustus where the title character has a choice to sell his soul to the devil for infinite knowledge and to practice necromancy. Dr. Faustus is a victim of fate by his own free will because he ignored all warning signs and he knew the risks before and after he struck a deal and regrets it heavily.
Doctor Faustus is a victim of fate by his free will because in the beginning of the book a good angel versus a bad angel scene appears. In the beginning Faustus has control of his free will to stop his tragic end. Faustus is considering whether to perform the dark magic of necromancy. The good angel tells Faustus should “lay that damned book aside”, referring to the necromantic book, and that this “is blasphemy” (Marlowe 5). Faustus is getting warning signs from the angel to stop it right now and return to god and not the devil. The metaphor that the angel is comparing the book to something damned shows that what he is doing is bad. Even the diction of damned and blasphemy convey the idea that what he is doing right now is bad and it is up to him.
Before Faustus officially sets his fate he still has the free will to reverse his action to sell his soul. Immediately before the good angel reappears and says that Faustus should “leave that execrable art” (Marlowe 19). Then right before signing it his “blood congeals” and on his arm the words “Homo, fuge!” (which means Man, fly!) appears (Marlowe 21). Faustus is getting signs from his blood congealing and a literal message appearing on his arm. When the angel is telling him that he should stop and repent again, a metaphor comparing the art of necromancy to something execrable is showing that what Faustus is about to do is bad but could still be reversed. He still has the free will to back out of the deal and turn to god.
Even after all of that he reads the terms of the deal that when “twenty-four years being expired” that Mephistophilis will have “full power to fetch or carry said John Faustus, body and soul, flesh, blood… into [hell]” (Marlowe 22). The evidence here is expressing the message that Faustus is going to go to hell and that the devils will have full power and control over him. When Faustus asks where “Faustus shall be damn’d” Mephistophilis says “Wherein thou hast given thy soul to Lucifer” (Marlowe 23). Faustus is going to give his soul to hell. He knows he is going to be in hell forever. Although he thinks hell is fake Mephistophilis contradicts this statement.
After Faustus signs the deal he sets his fate forever going to hell in 24 years. In the end of the play Faustus is regretting what he has done. He says that he is now “damn’d perpetually” and he is hoping that there is a “perpetual day” where the day never ends (Marlowe 54). When Faustus signed that deal he signed away his soul and permanently set his fate to go to hell forever. The diction of words and the scene itself creates a somber mood of regret for Faustus. All these wishes that the day never comes has him hoping that Mephistophilis will never come to collect his soul.
This is an obvious sign of regret. As the time gets closer to midnight Faustus continues to have wishes like to “let Faustus live in hell a thousand years” saying later that “no end is limited to damned souls” (Marlowe 55). Faustus is so desperate that he would rather live in hell for one thousand years rather than spend forever in there. The dramatic irony that the reader knows is that he is going to go to hell anyway but Faustus doesn’t entirely know that he still thinks he can change it, Faustus here is at his most desperate point. Along with the thunder and lightning mentioned in the scene this all adds up to a mood of a depressing state because Faustus is so desperate.
Doctor Faustus is a victim of fate because of his free will. He knew the risks going into the deal. He also had many people and signs tell him that he should not by any means do this. Then in the end Faustus is literally begging that the day never ends or that he is only in hell for a thousand years instead of forever.