The Tragedy of Dr Faustus
Faustus was born in Germany, in a town called Rhode. His parents were not rich, but the boy showed that he was very intelligent and ambitious. He was sent to Wittenberg University when he was a young man and soon made a reputation for himself. He became famous in the University for his knowledge and his wit1 and it was not long before the University made him ‘Dr’ Faustus.
His success meant very little to him, however, and he longed for2 excitement and glamour3. One night he was in his study thinking about the future. His studies now seemed dull to him and he did not know what he should do. He looked at the books lying on his desk and began to pick them up one by one.
The first book he picked up was a study of Aristotle. He turned the pages idly.
‘The purpose of logic is to argue well,’ he read.
He threw the book back onto the desk impatiently.
‘I’ve learnt everything that was possible from logic. I can argue and debate better than most of the professors here at the University!’ he thought.
He picked up a second book from the desk and glanced5 at the title page. ‘The purpose of medicine is health,’ he read. Again he threw the book back onto his desk impatiently.
‘I’m already famous for my medical skills,’ he thought proudly. ‘I don’t need to study medicine any more. Besides, what can medicine do? It can’t make people live forever and it can’t bring the dead back to life.’
2 longed for:渴望。
Once again he reached for a book from the pile on his desk. This time he picked up a volume about law.
‘Law!’ he thought scornfully1. ‘That might be all right for someone who just wants to make money — but law doesn’t satisfy me.’
Finally Dr Faustus picked up a Bible. ‘This is still the best subject to study,’ he thought.
He turned the pages of the Bible with interest and then read a passage.
‘If we say we have no sin2 we deceive3 ourselves and there is no truth in us,’ he read.
‘But if that’s true,’ Faustus suddenly thought, ‘we’re all sinners. Sinners go to hell when they die. We’ll all go to hell!’ he concluded. ‘There’s nothing we can do about it at all — it’s just inevitable!’
He pushed the Bible away from him impatiently. He reached out for another book.
‘Ah,’ he said excitedly, ‘a book of magic and spells5! That’s what really interests me. If I learnt the black arts, just think what I could do! I’d be more powerful than a King or Emperor. This is the subject I want to know more about.’
Dr Faustus had made up his mind. He was going to learn about magic and the black arts. He thought about two friends he had in Wittenberg, Valdes and Cornelius. They both studied magic and they had offered to teach Faustus what they knew.
Just at that moment Faustus’ servant Wagner came into the study.
‘Go and find Valdes and Cornelius,’ Faustus instructed him.
‘Ask them to come here to see me.’
‘Yes, sir,’ said Wagner. He left the room and went to look for his master’s two friends.
Faustus sat by the fire waiting for them to come. Suddenly he saw two angels in front of him — a good angel and a bad angel.
‘Don’t do it, Faustus,’ the good angel cried. ‘Put that book about magic away. Read the Bible and save your soul!’
Now the bad angel began to speak. ‘Learn about magic, Faustus. You’ll become rich, powerful and famous!’
Faustus was excited at the decision he had made. He imagined himself with spirits that he could command and he amused himself by thinking what he would tell them to do. They could bring him gold from India. They could bring him exotic1 food from anywhere in the world. They could debate philosophy with him. He spent the time waiting for his friends, pleasantly daydreaming about the future.
At last Valdes and Cornelius arrived. Dr Faustus greeted them keenly.
‘I’ve been thinking about what you said,’ he told them, ‘and I’ve decided to accept your offer. I want you to teach me everything you know about magic. I’m tired of philosophy, and law, and medicine, and divinity. I want something new.’
Valdes was very pleased with Faustus’ decision.
‘We’ll show you everything,’ he said. ‘The spirits will soon obey you and then you can do whatever you want. The spirits will protect you and they can become any shape you want. They’ll do whatever you tell them to.’
‘Yes, it’s true. Once you see what magic can do for you, you’ll never want to study anything else, Faustus. Magic will make you rich and famous, I promise you!’ Cornelius added.
‘Come and dine with me tonight,’ Faustus said excitedly. ‘You can tell me everything then. I’m determined to see what the spirits can do for me!’
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