I have learnt everything there is to know, says Doctor Faustus, a brilliant German scholar who decries the limits of human knowledge. What else is there for him to do, he wonders, but to use magic? A good angel presents him with the option of a Christian conscience, while an evil angel presents him with the way to damnation.
The basics of black magic are taught to him by Valdes and Cornelius, two of his fellows. Using black magic, Dr. Faustus summons Mephistopheles. At some point in the future, the details of Faustus’s contract with Mephistopheles have been agreed upon. Faustus will get a twenty-four-year reign of power from Mephistopheles in exchange for his soul.
Faustus has second thoughts, but he rationalises them away and signs his soul away with his own blood. He hears a warning and is almost terrified. Mephistopheles distracts him with a dance of devils and gives him a knowledge-filled book.
After some time, Faustus blames Mephistopheles for preventing him from reaching paradise. He discovers that he may afflict the demon by uttering the name of a god. The good angel and the evil angel appear again, with the former counselling him to repent and the latter urging him to continue down the path of evil. Beelzebub and Mephistopheles return to scare him, and he consents to abandon all thoughts of God. Robin the Clown has discovered one of Faustus’s magical books.
Faustus, having traversed the heavens and the earth in a chariot carried by dragons, goes to Rome, where a feast commemorating Saint Peter will be held. Before leaving, Faustus and Mephistopheles become invisible and perform several pranks. Faustus returns to his own land, where his ill-gotten knowledge and skills earn him fame. Meanwhile, Robin the Clown has acquired his own magical abilities.
At the court of Charles V, Faustus amuses the emperor with illusions and humiliates a knight, whose attempts to avenge himself result in more humiliation.
Faustus continues to utilise his abilities to defraud and humiliate anybody he desires. Several of his victims, along with Robin the Clown, went to the duke’s court in an attempt to obtain justice, if possible. Faustus seduces the duke and duchess with trifling fantasies and torments Robin.
Faustus is running out of time. Wagner informs us that his master is likely prepared for death. Even still, there is no evidence of regret as Faustus feasts and imbibes with other intellectuals. He conjures a ghost in the form of Helen of Troy and requests that Mephistopheles deliver Helen to him so she may provide him with comfort and affection throughout his final days.
Ultimately, Faustus discloses to his pals that he is a damned soul and that he paid dearly for his talents. He is abandoned to his destiny.
Mephistopheles ridicules Faustus, and Faustus attributes his damnation to Mephistopheles. At eleven o’clock, Faustus’s final monologue expresses his regret. At midnight, the devils arrive while Faustus begs God and the devil for mercy, but Faustus is brought to hell without mercy. The Chorus announces in the epilogue that Faustus is dead and that all of his immense potential has been wasted. We are cautioned to recall his fall and the lessons we may learn from it.
The Tragic History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus is a drama written by Christopher Marlowe and published in 1604.
Christopher Marlowe, the most influential person in English Renaissance literature, was born in Canterbury, England on February 26, 1564. He was a renowned poet and dramatist of the 16th century. His writing career lasted fewer than six years, yet he impacted William Shakespeare and many other authors who came after him. The critics assert that if not for Marlowe, Shakespeare would not have existed.
His plays, especially The Tragic History of Doctor Faustus, are the most enduring expression of the Renaissance and its legacy. Dido, Queen of Carthage, Marlowe’s first play that was not published until 1594, Tamburlaine the Great, Doctor Faustus, Jew of Malta, and Edward the second are among his literary works. He was slain on May 18, 1593, during the street brawl.
The original title of Doctor Faustus was The Tragic History of Doctor Faustus, but it was later changed to The Tragic History on the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus. Doctor Faustus is an English tragedy written in the early 1590s. It was initially published in 1604 by theatrical entrepreneur Philip Henslowe, while the B text was released in 1616.
No narrator is present in the play. The chorus, which appears between acts, provides the background information. Faustus is the principal character of the play, and his lengthy soliloquies emphasise his perspective. The tone of the play is majestic and sad, with a touch of humour. The play’s time and location are the 1580s in England, notably in Germany and Italy.
Doctor Faustus is the outstanding portrayal of sixteenth-century Renaissance. The drama depicts the clash between mediaeval and Renaissance principles. In mediaeval times. God was central to everything, while man and nature were marginalised. The Renaissance was a rejection of mediaeval ideals. People began receiving an education and understanding themselves. By highlighting each significant issue of the mediaeval era, Faustus deemed them useless. As a Renaissance man, he desired to learn more about God and questioned God’s existence.
Doctor Faustus exemplifies the essence of the human psyche. Every man, like Doctor Faustus, is enslaved by his passions. Regardless of whether the goal is for riches, power, or knowledge. Everyone desires a limitless supply of everything. In short, we are all, in some capacity, Doctor Faustus.
The supernatural and magic are recurring topics in dramatic works. Despite the fact that everyone is performing magic and spells, it is important to note that nothing substantial is accomplished by this magic. The play also includes practical jokes that function as comedic interludes to amuse the audience. Marlowe uses blood, Faustus’ rejection of mediaeval norms, and the repeated presence of a good and wicked angel to depict creative concepts in the play.
Themes in Doctor Faustus
1) Sin and damnation
Being a Christian drama, Doctor Faustus deals with the key Christian themes. The drama cruelly depicts the concept of sin, which is defined as disobedience to God’s will. Faustus committed the worst sin when he made a contract with Lucifer. By doing so, he not only defied God but also knowingly and gladly condemned his disobedience. If a person repents and earnestly seeks God’s forgiveness, even the gravest sin can be pardoned in Christianity. No matter how horrific Faustus’ contract with Lucifer was, he would have been pardoned if he had sought forgiveness. In the play, Faustus faced several opportunities to repent, but he ignored them all, ending in his awful demise. Despite having several opportunities to repent, Faustus chooses to remain faithful to hell rather than return to God. This disobedience to God will condemn him to an eternity in hell. It was the final step when he came to his senses, repented, and asked for God’s forgiveness, but it was too late; the door to forgiveness was closed.
2) Power corrupts even the most knowledgeable people
At the beginning of the play, Faustus appeared resolved to use the magical power he obtained for good. He motivated people to learn about the tribulations of the world, to uncover the unexplored, and to acquire limitless knowledge. However, after Faustus had the power, his limit appeared to be limited. He exploited his authority to commit minor and malicious acts and to deceive others. We cannot claim that getting power corrupted Faustus by making him wicked, but obtaining ultimate authority over everything made him average and corrupted him, since he abandoned his grandiose ambitions in favour of minor pleasures.
3) Man’s nature is divided
Throughout the play, it was unclear whether Faustus should repent and return to God or continue his bargain with the devil. A portion of him had always desired to serve and follow God, whilst the dominant and wicked portion desired to acquire limitless power through magic. The repeated presence of positive and negative angles represents his struggle and conflicted character.