To what extent do you think Faustus greatest sin is the misuse of the supernatural powers given to him by Mephistophilis?
Christopher Marlowes Doctor Faustus presents a protagonist who sells his soul to the devil for God-like knowledge and power. The anxiety in Doctor Faustus rises from the protagonists self-damnation, because he is constantly reminded and aware and is given numerous opportunities to salvation yet doesnt repent. Faustus damnation during the play is dependent on many things which we see how the misuse of supernatural powers is clearly significant. Possibly Faustus greatest sin is his hubris and linked to that -its constant greed, before selling his soul Faustus already had everything that any person in his time could possibly need, however because of his avoidable desire for a power greater than he was meant to have, he sacrificed his soul to the devil. Finally, this leads to his destruction and his life ends in ruins simply to satisfy his greed and pride. Notably, Faustus is compared to Icarus with "His waxen wings which symbolises the danger of Faustus' pride since it was Icarus' pride that led him to fly so close to the sun that his wings melted and conspired his overthrow, emphasis on this like suggests it will foreshadow something that is going to happen later on to Faustus.
It is certain that Faustus has a desire for forbidden knowledge and in order to have access to more knowledge he makes a contract with the devil. Early in the play, before he agrees to the pact with Lucifer, Faustus is full of these great ideas for how to use the power that he so desperately wants. He has thoughts that are quoted all things that move between the quiet poles shall be at my command and I will raise the wind or rend the clouds, these plans give a sense of greatness and make his quest for power seem almost heroic, especially given the eloquence of his early soliloquies. After Faustus actually gains the art of necromancy he forgets his true intellect and becomes carried away with the thought of how much power he can have, it seemsthat now everything is possible to him his true ambition is worn out. Rather than his initiative plans he instead performs and conjures tricks for kings and noblemen and takes a odd pleasure in using his magic to play practical jokes on simple people, gaining absolute power corrupts Faustus by making him mediocre and by changing his grand aspirations into meaningless amusement for a little super stardom which shows a huge gap between his high talk and low actions.
Once Faustus finally decides to sign the contract over to the devil, it is noted that the very ever first question he asks to Lucifers slave is not answered to its full potential and this foreshadows the rest of the play. Tell me, where is this place that men call hell? and Mephistophilis answers bluntly under the heavens. This response is common sense as everything is under the heavens, leaving Faustus unimpressed with his new fond power. Shortly afterwards Faustus asks for a wife and was again disappointed when Mephistophilis brings forth a devil dressed like a woman. This all shows that Faustus selling his soul to the devil has not made him happy and these have been the very first requests. He is given the gift of knowledge, and Mephistophilis willingly tells him the secrets of astronomy, but when Faustus asks who created the world, Mephistophilis refuses to answer.
Mephistophilis and Lucifer parade the seven deadly sins in front of Faustus, and the appearances of these spirits evokes from Faustus the comment, "O, this feeds my soul." He is so caught up in the act of magic, his hubris gets the better of him thus leading him to misuse his powers and instead be childish. By the end of the play Faustus' greed, pride, and soul are nearly destroyed. His greed went from wanting to conquer the world, to being satisfied with magic tricks. His pride, which at one time made him believe he was invincible, left him begging for mercy when his twenty-four years were ending and his soul would soon belong to Lucifer, who would have control over it for eternity, this is a great achievement for Lucifer especially because Faustus was once a good spiritual man who gave it all up for pettiness.
Throughout the play we see that Robin who is a stable man takes one of Faustus books and also begins to conjure up spirits with the art of necromancy. This shows a huge significance that Faustus sold his soul for no reason as it is possible to learn this art and conjure up spirits without making a pact with Lucifer. Furthermore, it is evident that he does not use Mephistophilis to his true potential of the power he desperately wanted, it is shown all through the play. In act 4 scene 2, the duchess asks for a dish of ripe grapes, happily Faustus responds alas madam thats nothing! and brings them to her. This is just one of the things he does using his magic however looking back at all the schemes he has it appears that he belittles his intellect and his longing for world knowledge and control.
His greed and pride led to his destruction both mortally and eternally.Faustus' thirst for knowledge is impressive, but it is overshadowed by his inability to understand certain truths. Faustus is far too proud a man because when given the choice between repenting and keeping his pride, Faustus foolishly chooses the direct route to hell. Faustus puts himself in the path to die and go to hell, even though he could have saved his soul by the simple act of repentance. The underlying theme is that, like Icarus and Lucifer, Dr. Faustus allows his pride to become excessive and ultimately it is his downfall.