"So he surrenders up to him his soul,
So he will spare him four and twenty years"
(Marlowe, Act 1 Scene 3, lines 90-91)
The importance of Act 1 Scene 3 is to draw the audience into understanding what Faustus will do to have what he so desires from the devil. The act tells the audience about Faustus' personality; his arrogance and determination to become one with the devil. Through careful choice of words Marlowe conveys the significant aspects and effects that language has on his audience. Marlowe uses very descriptive words in the opening of the scene to describe the setting.
"Now that the gloomy shadow of the earth,
And dims the welkin with her pitchy breath,"
(Act 1: 3, lines 1-4)
Here, Marlowe portrays an image of the sky. He describes the constellation of Orion casting a mist or fog like illusion that Faustus is standing under, trying to summon the devil.
Marlowe delivers an eerie and cold feeling of the night; "Leaps from th " antarctic world unto the sky" (Act 1: 3, line 3) Marlowe relates Orion to a female, "And dims the welkin with her pitchy breath" (Act 1: 3, line 4) illustrating that Orion has blown her .".. pitchy breath," (Act 1: 3, line 4) across the motioning, overcast sky. "Within this circle in Jehovah's name," (Act 1: 3, line 8) Marlowe uses this line in particular to reflect on the safety of Faustus with in the circle he has created; knowing he is safe from what lays outside of it. Once more, Marlowe is adding to the image of the setting. Marlowe also sets an image of Faustus' character for the audience.
Throughout the scene Faustus represents a very selfish and arrogant man. "How pliant is this Mephastophilis! ... Such is the force of magic and my spells!" (Act 1: 3, lines 29-31) Marlowe leads the audience to believe that Faustus is trying to determine how obedient and respectful Mephasopilis will be as one of his 'servants'. Although Marlowe uses very explanatory words to help the audience understand Faustus as a character and the power he wishes to obtain, Marlowe also uses a different language that Faustus uses to conjure his spell. Marlowe uses this language as an effect, to show felling in Faustus' voice when he emphasizes the spell. "Sint mihi dei...
surg at nobis dicatur Mephastophilis!" (Act 1: 3, lines 16-22) Referring to the translation quoted in the footnotes, Faustus uses many Christian words to summon the devil. Marlowe demonstrates a form of imagery as well as irony, when Faustus chants his spell. Marlowe tries to set the image of Faustus standing in "Jehovah's" safe circle under a dark stormy night, hands in the air reciting his spell with enthusiasm in his voice. However, the irony; Faustus speaks many holy words to call upon the devil. He is standing in Jehovah's circle, almost as if as this point Faustus still has faith in his Christian side. Faustus still feels a sense of security from God.
"Thou art too ugly to attend on me; Go, and return an old Franciscan friar: That holy shape becomes a devil best." (Act 1: 3, lines 24-26) Faustus uses the Franciscan friar to insult the devil. Marlowe chooses to use the word .".. ugly... ." (Act 1: 3, line 24), to represent power, the power that the devil has over Faustus. Faustus does not like the way the devil appears to him, the devil comes across as a threat to Faustus. Faustus demands the devil to reappear as a Franciscans friar so that Faustus can present what his request is to the devil as an equal or someone lower than him, not a threat.
Marlowe uses the comparison of the Franciscan friar to show the audience that Faustus has a sense of bitterness towards his Christian side. Faustus feels that he was betrayed in a sense, by his Christian side. Faustus was a Christian man, the Franciscan friar resembles that and Faustus feels he will .".. become a devil best." (Act 1: 3 line 26). He compares himself to becoming a devil. Marlowe through out this act reminds us that Faustus wants to have power and dominance over man, although while Mephastophilis and Faustus converse the audience may interpret Faustus to be a follower.
He seems to be following in Lucifer's once holy and now evil foot steps. Mephastophilis recites: "O Faustus, leave these frivolous demands, Which strike a terror to my fainting soul." (Act 1: 3, lines 81-82) Faustus answers: "Learn tho of Faustus manly fortitude And scorn those joys thou never shalt posses." (Act 1: 3, lines 85-86) Here Mephastophilis is giving Faustus a chance to reconsider his decision. But Faustus makes it clear that he knows what he is doing. Marlowe sets a serious tone during Act 1 Scene 3, it is important for the audience to grasp the content and the effects of what is happening for the rest of the play. Marlowe also uses humor to lighten the serious tone, for example: "Did he not charge thee to appear to me?" "No, I came now hither of my own accord." (Act 1: 3, lines 43-44) Faustus assumes he conjured up the spirit, when I fact that is not the case at all. Faustus' arrogance shows though a bit here, he brushes off the idea that he did not summon the spirit and continues on with his conversation.
Marlowe uses various words to help Faustus as a character to express feeling and to emphasize his point. Marlowe conveys the hierarchy of the devil with the words he chooses to use to describe him, for instance; .".. Beelzebub." (Act 1: 3 line 57), and Faustus refers to the devil as Lucifer, the way a Christian man refers to Satan. Marlowe uses the words to express the authoritativeness of the devil. "Now that I have obtain'd what I so desire, I'll live in speculation of this art Till Mephastophilis return again." (Act 1: 3, lines 112-114) Faustus assumes that he has received what he wants and is going to live this way until he hears otherwise. These are some of the aspects of language that Marlowe uses to help the audience gain the most from his language and his play..