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Doctor Faustus

Christopher Marlowe


Key Facts

Key Facts

full title  ·  Published initially as The Tragicall History of D. Faustus, then as The Tragicall History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus

author  ·  Christopher Marlowe

type of work  ·  Play

genre  ·  Tragedy

language  ·  English

time and place written  ·  Early 1590s; England

date of first publication  ·  The A text was first published in 1604, the B text in 1616.

publisher  ·  Uncertain; possibly Philip Henslowe, a theatrical entrepreneur

narrator  ·  None for the most part, but the Chorus, which appears intermittently between scenes, provides background information and comments on the action

point of view  ·  While he sometimes cedes the stage to the Chorus or the lesser, comic characters, Faustus is central figure in the play, and he has several long soliloquies that let us see things from his point of view.

tone  ·  Grandiose and tragic, with occasional moments of low comedy

tense  ·  The Chorus, who provides the only narration, alternates between the present and past tenses.

setting (time)  ·  The 1580s

setting (place)  ·  Europe, specifically Germany and Italy

protagonist  ·  Doctor Faustus

major conflict  ·  Faustus sells his soul to Lucifer in exchange for twenty-four years of immense power, but the desire to repent begins to plague him as the fear of hell grows in him.

rising action  ·  Faustus’s study of dark magic and his initial conversations with Mephastophilis

climax  ·  Faustus’s sealing of the pact that promises his soul to Lucifer

falling action  ·  Faustus’s traveling of the world and performing of magic for various rulers

themes  ·  Sin, redemption, and damnation; the conflict between medieval and Renaissance values; absolute power and corruption; the dividedness of human nature

motifs  ·  Magic and the supernatural; practical jokes

symbols  ·  Blood; Faustus’s rejection of the ancient authorities; the good angel and the evil angel

foreshadowing  ·  The play constantly hints at Faustus’s ultimate damnation. His blood congeals when he tries to sign away his soul; the words Homo fuge, meaning “Fly, man!”, appear on his arm after he makes the pact; and he is constantly tormented by misgivings and fears of hell.

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a personal view

by salesman5, September 13, 2013

I think we should not blame this ambitious man because everyone has a " Faustasian Approach " to some extent. some succeed to restrain their inner wishes while other, like Fuastus , do not .


4 out of 6 people found this helpful

Discuss the character of Doctor Faustus.

by touhidsm, May 24, 2014

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Answer: Dr. Faustus, the main character of the story, is a professor of divinity at Wittenberg, as well as a renowned physician and scholar. Not satisfied with the limitations of human knowledge and power, he begins to practice necromancy. He eventually makes a deal with Lucifer (commonly referred to as the "Faustian bargain"), whereby he exchanges his soul for twenty-four years of the devil’s ... Read more


90 out of 98 people found this helpful

Discuss Doctor Faustus as a man of Renaissance.

by touhidsm, May 27, 2014

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Answer: Faustus’s inexhaustible thirst for knowledge , his worship of beauty , his passion for the classics , his skepticism , his interest in sorcery and magic , his admiration of Machiavelli and super –human ambition and will in the pursuit of ideals of beauty or power, prove him to be a man of renaissance.

Faustus appears as a man of the Renaissance in the very opening scene when... Read more


32 out of 36 people found this helpful

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