- Purchase/rental options available:
This essay argues that Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus presents knowledge gained from demonic sources as available to both magus and clowns. The play returns at various junctures to a laughable ceremonialism, in which Faustus acquires understanding from the many texts Mephistopheles proffers. While the period's demonological literature considered the nearly limitless knowledge Satan possesses, these works also delimit the devil's understanding as based on the materials and phenomena of the world. Marlowe's play thus reveals that there is no unique quality to the would-be conjuror, and the clownish figures Wagner, Robin, and Rafe exemplify the poor gains of demonic understanding.