Doctor Faustus Key Facts and Summary

Doctor Faustus

Basic Information:

Writer: Christopher Marlowe, also known as Kit Marlowe (26 February 1564 – 30 May 1593) 

The full title of the play: The Tragical History of life and death of Doctor Faustus. 

Time of composition: between 1589 and 1592 

First performed: 1592 

First published: 1604 

Genre: Tragedy or Morality play 

Time setting: 16th century 

Place setting; Wittenberg Germany, Rome, the court of German emperor Charles fifth, the palace of duke of Vanholt of Germany. 

Numbers of acts: This a five-act tragedy. 

Source of the plot: Faustbuch by Frankfurt written in 1587 

More Notes: Doctor Faustus


  1. Necromancy or black magic 
  1. Man’s Limitations and Potential 
  1. Pride and ambition 
  1. Good versus evil 
  1. Damnation 
  1. Salvation, Mercy, and Redemption 
  1. Valuing Knowledge over Wisdom 


Books are the symbols of Faustus’s attitude to knowledge and wisdom 

Angels are the symbolic expression of the human heart of good and evil 

Blood is a symbol of life and connection to god. Frozen blood signifies a warning from god and the melding of blood through hot coal symbolizes permanent agony of the human heart. 

Character list 


A brilliant man, who seems to have reached the limits of natural knowledge. Faustus is a scholar of the early sixteenth century in the German city of Wittenberg. He is arrogant, fiery, and possesses a thirst for knowledge. As an intellectual, Faustus is familiar with things (like demon summoning and astrology) not normally considered academic subjects by today’s universities. Faustus decides to sell his soul to the devil in exchange for earthly power and knowledge and an additional 24 years of life. He proceeds to waste this time on self-indulgence and low tricks. 

Faustus is the absolute center of the play, which has few truly developed characters. 


From the Hebrew, mephitis, destroyer, and tophel, liar. A devil of craft and cunning. He is the devil who comes at Faustus’ summoning, and the devil who serves Faustus for 24 years. In lore, Mephostophilis (also spelled Mephistopheles, or Miphostophiles, and also called Mephisto) seems to be a relative latecomer in the recognized hierarchy of demons. He possibly was created for the Faustus legend. 

In Marlowe’s play, Mephostophilis has layers to his personality. He admits that separation from God is anguish and is capable of fear and pain. But he is gleefully evil, participating at every level in Faustus’ destruction. Not only does Mephostophilis get Faustus to sell his soul; but he also encourages Faustus to waste his twenty-four years of power. 


Servant to Faustus. He steals Faustus’ books and learns how to summon demons. At the end of the play, he seems concerned about his master’s fate. 

Good Angel and Evil Angel 

Personifications of Faustus’ inner turmoil, who give differing advice to him at key points. Their characters also reflect the Christian belief that humans are assigned guardian angels, and that devils can influence human thoughts. 

Minor characters 


Friend to Faustus, who teaches him the dark arts. He appears only in Act One. 


Friend to Faustus, who teaches him the dark arts. He appears only in Act One. 


Satan. “Lucifer” originally meant Venus, referring to the planet’s brilliance. In Christian lore, Lucifer is sometimes thought to be another name for Satan. Some traditions say that Lucifer was Satan’s name before the fall, while the Fathers of the Catholic Church held that Lucifer was not Satan’s proper name but a word showing the brilliance and beauty of his station before the fall. He appears at a few choice moments in Doctor Faustus, and Marlowe uses “Lucifer” as Satan’s proper name. 


One of Lucifer’s officers. A powerful demon. 

The Seven Deadly Sins 

Personifications of the Seven Deadly Sins do not act but impulses or motivations that lead men to sinful actions. They array themselves in a pageant before Faustus, although scholars think now that this section was not written by Marlowe. 

Clown / Robin 

Robin learns demon summoning by stealing one of Faustus’ books. He is the chief character in a number of scenes that provide comic relief from the main story. 


A horse ostler, or groomer, and friend to Robin. With the Clown, he summons Mephostophilis, who is none too pleased to be called. 

An Old Man 

A holy old man. He tries to save Faustus by getting him to repent, and for his good deed, Faustus initially thanks him. But later, Faustus sends devils to harm the Old Man. 

Moral lesson 

The journey of the materialistic world is trifling and ephemeral. So, none should exceed the limitation. 

Critical Summary Of Doctor Faustus

 Doctor Faustus is an English play written by Christopher Marlowe. Its full name is “The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus” (The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus). The famous play is based on the story of Dr. Faustus’ self-sale to Satan. 

Dr. Faustus is a highly educated and respectable German. At the beginning of the play, it can be seen that he wants to acquire knowledge on various subjects. At first, he wants to gain knowledge about logic but realizes that he already knows this science. Then he wants to study medicine but that too he already knows so he drops that too. Thus, Faustus also excludes the doctrine of inheritance or advocacy and the doctrine of religion. Finally, he decided to study magic on the advice of his friends Valdes and Cornelius. Then the Good Angel forbids him but the Evil Angel tells him to learn magic. Faustus then summons Mephistopheles, who is terrible and a servant of the devil, after reading a book of black magic. Faustus wants to become infinitely powerful, but Mephistopheles warns him that destruction is inevitable in this path of sorcery. Terrible Hell’s End. But even then, Faustus sought the help of Lucifer, who was the chief of the devils. 

Then Mephistopheles came and told him that he would obey Faustus as long as he lived. But Mephistopheles gives him a condition that he must surrender or sell Faustus’ soul to him for 24 years. It also says that at the end of this period Faustus will face a painful death and a horrible hell. Faustus becomes so eager to learn black magic that he agrees to Mephistopheles’ proposal. But soon Faustus hesitates and thinks of turning back from the path of destruction, but finally, he agrees to the deal and sells his soul by signing the contract with Lucifer with his own blood. 

The document was as follows: First, Faustus would become the rebellious spirit of the gods. Second, Mephistopheles will always obey Faustus’ wishes. Third, Faustus will bring Mephistopheles whatever he wants. Fourth, Mephistopheles will always be invisible in Faustus’ room. And finally, when Faustus asks Mephistopheles to come, he will come in that form. It is also stipulated that after 24 years, the devils will take Faustus’ body, soul, blood, flesh, and everything under their control if the terms of this agreement are not broken. 

However, as he signed, he immediately saw the inscription “Homo Fuge” on his arm, meaning “O man, fly “. He hesitates again but Mephistopheles brings him gifts and presents him with a book of magic. Then when Faustus asks him about all the natural contents of the world, he answers them all except one question, who is the creator of this universe? Because of this, Faustus hesitates again, but Mephistopheles and Lucifer immediately present the Seven Deadly Sins to entertain Faustus, where the crimes are displayed in human form, which Faustus is satisfied with.  

These seven extreme crimes are: 

Pride — This is one of the Seven Deadly Sins. ‘Pride’ hates to introduce his mother. He is like a fly. He can fly anywhere and kiss any woman on the lips. 

Covetousness/Lust — Covetousness is the second deadly sin among the seven. Lust was born in the womb of an old. He always wishes that everything becomes gold. 

Wrath — Wrath has no parents. He was born in hell. He believes he was thrown from the lion’s mouth before he was half an hour old. He is always ready to fight. Wounds itself when no opponent is found. 

Envy — Envy’s father was a chimney sweep and his mother an oyster picker. He wants all the books of the world to be burnt. Watching someone else eat makes him thin. He wants everyone dead except him. 

Gluttony (Gluttony) — Gluttony also has no parents alive. His parents left him nothing. With what is left, one can have 30 meals throughout the day and 10 light snacks. His grandfather was salt pork, his grandmother was a claret jug, and his father was beef. 

Sloth — ‘Sloth’ was born on a seashore. He then spreads with the help of Gluttony and Lechery. 

Lechery — When asked about its identity, it says that the first letter of my name is ‘L’. 

 Faustus then goes on a journey with Mephistopheles. At one point they arrived at a church in Rome and appointed His Highness the Pope to receive them. This shows the stupidity of Faustus. The fact that he has completely abandoned religion is proof of that. Faustus then says that he would like to laugh at them (the priests). That’s why he wants to disappear. Mephistopheles makes Faustus disappear. Faustus then begins to joke with the priests and the Pope. They steal food and meat from their table. Then a knight named Robin steals a book of magic from Faustus. He says now he can do whatever he wants with this book with the help of the book, he makes a fool of a liquor seller. But Mephistopheles comes and scares him. Finally, he says never to steal any book again. 

He then appeared in various royal courts in Europe and gained considerable fame. At one point, Faustus was invited to his court by the ruler of Germany, Charles V, and expressed interest in seeing a magic show. He orders Faustus to present the legendary king and ruler Alexander the Great, and Faustus successfully presents a reflection of him. Charles V was very pleased with this. But Faustus grows horns on his head when a knight of the royal court betrays his sorcery. 

Faustus then takes 40 dollars from a merchant with the power of his magic. The merchant wanted to buy a horse and Faustus made one with his magic and gave it to him and told him never to put it in the water. But when the man lowered the horse into the water, the horse disappeared. Then the merchant comes to Faustus again and demands his dollar back, Faustus again casts a terrible spell and chases him away. 

Meanwhile, Faustus’ magic tricks spread everywhere. So, the Duke of Vanholt invites him to perform magic. Faustus went there and saw the merchant. Faustus then casts a spell to make the merchant dumb so he cannot tell the Duke about Faustus’s wickedness. The duchess orders Faustus to bring grapes in January. In reality, it was impossible, but Faustus, with the help of his magic, made delicious grapes appear before the Duchess. Thus, he pleased the king and queen with his magic. 

Then 2-3 scholars studying with Faustus want to see the magic of Faustus. They ask Faustus to bring before them Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world. Then Faustus summons Mephistopheles and brings Helen before them. Seeing this, the scholars show Faustus a lot of respect. 

More Notes: Doctor Faustus

Suddenly an old man begins to recite the motto to Faustus. He says that Faustus will never receive the favor of Jesus Christ with the amount of sin he is committing. Hearing this, Faustus was disappointed. He thinks about how bad he has done. Remorse arises in him but Mephistopheles leads him astray by telling him of the joys of sinning again. Then Faustus says that the only one who can calm him at this moment is Helen. Mephistopheles then presents Helen to Faustus. Faustus kisses Helen and says come Helen come. I want to be with you. Everything is worthless without you. 

Meanwhile, Faustus’ life comes to an end. He is almost 24 years old. At the last moment, he realizes how much sin he has committed. Thinking of that, his heart began to feel pain. Faustus’ friends then ask him to pray to Jesus. But by then Faustus has lost that power too. Faustus became restless with fear of death. Just before he dies, he asks for God’s forgiveness but by then it is too late. At the end of 24 years, a group of devils came and dismembered his body and took his soul to hell. 

Rashedul Islam
Rashedul Islam

Hi, This is Rashedul. Researcher and lecturer of English literature and Linguistics.

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