Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Future (Yet Fixed) Tense of Hell

In Christopher Marlowe's medieval tragedy, Doctor Faustus, an ambitious, sensual physician sells his soul to the devil, never really believing he has much of anything to lose. For instance, in Scene 5 there is this momentous exchange with the demon who has overseen the evil transaction. For his part, Faustus dismisses any consequence of life's actions beyond the grave. But his flippant bravado is countered by the demon himself who knows all-too-well of hell's existence.

Faustus: Come, I think hell’s a fable.

Mephastophilis: Ay, think so still, till experience change thy mind.