In Christopher Marlowe‘s play “Doctor Faustus,” the character of Helen appears in Act III, Scene I.
1.Faustus’s desire to see Helen
The episode begins with Faustus expressing his desire to see the most beautiful woman in the world. Mephistopheles tells him that he can summon Helen of Troy, who was famously beautiful and caused the Trojan War.
More Notes: Doctor Faustus
2. Helen’s appearance
When Helen appears, Faustus is immediately struck by her beauty and compares her to various classical and mythological figures. Faustus becomes enchanted seeing her breathing beauty.
3. Faustus’ desire for Helen’s companionship
Faustus asks Helen to stay with him. Helen responds with a speech that emphasizes her ethereal nature and lack of substance. She tells Faustus that she is merely an image or idea, not a physical being. Faustus insists that he loves her anyway and asks her to become his mistress. He says,
“Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss”
Helen responds by kissing him and then disappears.
4. Helen as a temptation and downfall
Faustus is willing to forsake his soul and damn himself for eternity to be with Helen. After Helen leaves, Faustus reflects on his experience and says that he has found something worth living for. But Helen is his allusion like the transient beauty of nature.
5. Helen’s role in Faustus’ overall story
The Helen episode is a significant part of Faustus’ story, as it represents a critical moment where Faustus succumbs to his desires and seals his tragic fate. It highlights Faustus’ inner conflict between his thirst for knowledge and power and his moral conscience, which ultimately leads to his tragic demise.