Education and Knowledge in Doctor Faustus
Faustus is identified as a character by his status as a doctor (that is, someone with a doctoral degree), and the backdrop of much of the play is the university environment in which Doctor Faustus lives. It is thus no surprise that issues of formal education are of great importance to the play, in which even magic spells are learned from a kind of text-book.
Systems of education obviously exist to help people learn, but Marlowe also explores the associations of formal education with power and social hierarchy. Education helps people position themselves in higher social classes. It is through education that Faustus rises from his humble origins and that the play's scholars differentiate themselves from lowly clowns like Robin and Rafe. And when Wagner promises to teach a clown magic, he uses his superior knowledge as a way to gain power over the clown, getting him to agree to be his servant.
But not everything can be learned in school and from books. In his opening soliloquy, Faustus rejects…