Alan Marshall Bella Edwards Bob Howourth Brian Davis Brenda Cook Carol Chilcott Claude Rimmer David Conn David Glover-Kirk David Parry-Jones David Scott David Talbot faustus group Jack Mundy Jacky Long Joan Clews Joan Goodyear John Vowles Kathy Stewart Kevin Hogan Lizzie Lane Lyn Martin Mary Lansdown Nicholas Selway Peter Sutton Richard Edwards Robert Chapman Robert Tooze Royston Tanner Sarah McGreevy Stephen Canaby This River Winding Tina Kelly Tom Hodson georgeT

About Marlowe Synopsis Theme Art Text

Themes - page 1

In this section we want to tell you about how we use the themes of the play as a way into its world.

The strength of a story is your own involvement in it
Some stories are empty
But we think this one is full of meaning
We want to get to the glory of a story
To never cheat on a story by only reading the last page
But to take each page as it comes until we reach
The heart of the story,
And then the story will help us to find its power and we must learn its meanings

This is an extract from the poem read by actor Roy Tanner at the end of Faustus. It’s a good way to describe the way the Portway Players work. We look for the themes of the play. Themes are important because they make a play meaningful to everybody. We decided that these were the main themes in Faustus:

knowledge and learning

Faustus is a learned man - a doctor of divinity. Yet he realises that earthly learning will not help him overcome the ultimate fate of all humans - death. He thinks that by selling his soul to Lucifer, he will not only have access to all earthly learning, but will be able to cheat death as well.

And for a while it works - people like the Duke of Vanholt are impressed by Faustus’ knowledge and learning. But Faustus doesn’t profit by all his knowledge - it doesn’t help him be a better person, or to find true companionship.

a link to video clip from the play
The Duke of Vanholt, video clip

a sketch of the Duke scene
The Duke of Vanholt by Carol Chilcott

We thought about these questions:


Faustus has to deal with temptation in many forms, not just sexual. It is temptation of greater knowledge and power that causes him to seek out Mephistophilis.

a sketch of the scene where a scholar warns Faustus not to study magic
Don’t study those books by Carol Chilcott

Lust and unfulfilled desire are a way that Mephistophilis controls Faustus. When Faustus asks for a wife, Mephistophilis first tricks him, then offers him a different woman every night. Why be satisfied with one, when you can have everything?

a link to video clip from the play
A wife for Faustus, video clip

In a wider sense, sin is a theme of Faustus: how do we control temptation, and try to keep doing the right thing? And what is the right thing, anyway?

a link to video clip from the play
The Sins, video clip

a sketch of actors playing the seven deadly sins
The seven deadly sins by Carol Chilcott

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