Doctor Faustus is a tragic character whose life and death has been depicted by the legendry playwright, Christopher Marlowe in his masterpiece play titled as Doctor Faustus published in 1604. As introduced, Doctor Faustus is a German scholar who being fed up with the typical disciplines of knowledge such as logic, medicine, law and religion wants something adventurous which to him is magic. He barters his soul with some magical forces in exchange of gaining power by use of their services and skills.

Before we embark upon Faustus’s story, let us compare and contrast certain similar and dissimilar characters to that of Faustus as are observed in the contemporary world. The history is chequered. Certain similar stories are abundantly found floating on the surface of the globe whereas certain other of the dissimilar characters are also witnessed but rarely. Sometimes, such characters intentionally surrendered their souls and preferred damnation for themselves for good. Sometimes, they initially resisted but ultimately succumbed to and were doomed. For the other, they fell tempted, continued for a certain period of time but subsequently repented and attempted to return to their original status but often hopelessly failed ending up in a tragic collapse. However, for some other occasions, few characters resisted from the beginning, never succumbed to the temptations but either came out to be successful like a victor or died as a martyr.

Of the first kind supra, the history is full of such characters which needs separate mention. Aung Sung Suu Kyi, currently the State Councilor and a de facto ruler of Myanmar is a typical example of the second kind qua. Once a heroine and a Nobel Peace Prize winner for the peace and democracy, she stood up as an iron lady in her struggle against the military establishment for restoration of democracy in Burma until she was put into long detention of 15 years. The world fell into a state of shock when she despite being the most powerful civilian of the government kept mum on the human rights violations by way of homicide of the Rohingiya Muslims. Being into soul-power contract with Junta Army of Burma, she was debarred to move against Junta’s policies meant for Rohingyia Muslims. Her biographer, Peter Popham says that she was doomed once she under the influence of Hillary Clinton had reached constitutional agreement on power sharing basis with the Junta in 2011 to come into power at the cost of her soul. She might be enjoying power but being most hated now, she has lost like a tragic flawed Aristotelian character of Faustus.

Saddam Hussain, former President of Iraq was, perhaps, a character of the first kind who intentionally bartered his soul with the United States of America in lieu of power to enjoy in the region sometimes for dominance on Iran and for the other times on Kuwait by way of its occupation. His time barred repentance, if at all, or eye wash attacks on Israel in Kuwait War, could not help this Faustus of Iraq to invoke any mercy which ultimately resulted into claim of his soul by the US forces by way of his death on rows.

Of the third kind of first temptation, continuation and then resistance includes Shah Faisal of Saudi Arabia, Col. Qazafi of Libya and Zulfqar Ali Bhutto of Pakistan who one after the other failed to come out as a victor and, perhaps, collapsed as ‘martyrs’. The legendry entities like Nelson Mandela of South Africa is a one precedent in the contemporary world where Faustus vehemently resisted to mortgage his soul in lieu of power and preferred to remain with respect and honor in the chains of magical forces for 26 years instead of getting his soul doomed forever at the disposal of such forces. While President Ayub, perhaps, reluctantly had tried to retract his soul by chanting through the title of his book “Friends not masters” but actually could not dare to stretch his soul successfully returned. Whereas, it is yet to be determined, whether, Gen. Zia-ul-Haq was successfully able to recover his soul or not?

Let us now come back to the plot of Doctor Faustus. Pursuant to his desires, he learns basics of magic from his close friends. By use of the art, he is able to call a magical entity named Mephistophilis who represents on earth his chief namely Lucifer from the hell. Faustus asks him to return to his master to execute an agreement with the offer of selling his soul in consideration of the services of Mephistophilis along with all his magical skills purported to be available to him for a stipulated period of twenty four years whereby he would be capable to use miraculous powers to acquire whatever he desires in life. The offer is accepted by the master and a contract is signed between the parties in the blood of Doctor Faustus and the terms and conditions of the contract immediately appear inscribed on his arm raising doubts and fears upon him of what he has done and the unrealised future consequences thereof. However, the Mephistophilis is smart enough to pacify his dread or repentance by offering him gifts and a book of magical spells to gain power as visualised by him.

In execution of the contract, Mephistophilis carries Faustus on a chariot ride through the heavens, landing him in Rome to tease the then Pope and thereupon to please his enemy, the then Emperor of Germany. He is then made to travel to England to create amusement for Duke and Duchess of Vanholt on an incident of enchanted horse invented by him. He also asks Mehistophilis to summon Helen of Troy, the most beautiful lady of the world so as to immerse himself in her ancient beauty. Finding her before him, he chants to be immortal by bliss of her kiss and desires to live in her lips as if heavens were found in them. He further wonders, as if it were that face that launched thousand ships in the sea and turned the topless towers of Ilium, the capital of the King who kidnapped her, whereupon a hundred years war was fought by her royal family to for her recovery. One wise old man urges Faustus to repent and return to God but he torments the advisor through Mephistophils who acts accordingly but also whispers of Faustus’s follies in the like manner Mephistophilis had once committed as a man by having the similar contract with Lucifer.

Finally, towards the end of contract, Faustus starts dreading of his being doomed to hell and further serve for the Lucifer and confesses to his colleagues of his misdeeds who now cannot do anything except to pray for him. On the final night, he vehemently begs for mercy of God but its, perhaps, too late. The clock strikes in the midnight, Mephistophilis along with his colleagues, enters Faustus’ study room and claims his soul. Next morning his body is found torn limb to limb.

Faustus is indeed a mixture of opposites. He is capable of profound intellectual thought and ambition, yet prone to dismantle his inbuilt powers. He wants wealth from the four corners of the earth and all allied worldly knowledge, gains and powers to satiate his instinct of reshaping the map and commanding the world.

Allegedly, Faustus was last seen recently in India personified as Manmohan Sing, the former prime minister of India. The question is still unanswered as to why the soul-power contract was executed by him with Ms. Sonia Gandhi.

Allegedly, Faustus is also said to have entered Pakistan, once found in abundance but has either gone missing, lost, lost and found or in the making afresh.

 

The author is a lawyer and socio-political analyst.