Why does Faustus sell his soul?

Dr. Faustus has spent years establishing his lauded reputation as a scholar, where his knowledge of logic, medicine, science, and law has brought him great regard. However, such acclaim has not brought him personal satisfaction. Growing restless with the limits of what can be accomplished in the world of academia, Dr. Faustus considers that magic could make him a god himself. After discussing his vision to Valdes and Cornelius, they teach him the ways of dark magic, promising him that he will absorb great powers if he does. Once he begins to practice, Dr. Faustus summons Mephastophilis, demands his service, and is all too willing to sell his soul in exchange for further knowledge.

Why does Faustus request twenty-four years of service?

Though the text never explicitly provides an explanation from Faustus as to why he asks for only twenty-four years of unlimited power, one interpretation of the number’s narrative significance draws a parallel to the twenty-four hours in a day, emphasizing a ticking time on Faustus’s own fate and the idea that unlimited power does have its limits; indeed, once Faustus gets everything he’s ever wanted, he becomes listless. The novelty of what he has achieved is gone, and only the looming knowledge of his fate remains.

Is Faustus to blame for his own downfall?

Like so many tragic figures before him, Faustus’s own hubris is the cause of his downfall. His quest for knowledge causes him to seek out a deal with the devil, and his arrogance prevents him from fully understanding the consequences of what has agreed to. Despite Mephastophilis’s insistence that hell is ceaseless and torturous, and despite the Good Angel’s attempts at persuasion, Faustus sets aside any hesitation he might be experiencing and indulges his own desires.

What are the terms of Faustus’s agreement with Lucifer?

Faustus agrees to constant service from Mephastophilis if, in twenty-four years, Faustus gives his body and soul to Lucifer, who is looking to expand his own kingdom of suffering souls. While employed, Mephastophilis grants Faustus secret knowledge of the world and a book of magic to learn from. From here, Faustus travels the world, expanding the reach of his magical abilities.

What is the significance of the inscription on Faustus’s arm?

To sign his contract in blood, Faustus stabs himself in the arm. However, his blood congeals, rendering him unable to sign. Though this brings him a moment of pause, as he wonders if this is an ominous sign, he ultimately goes through with the agreement. After signing the deed, he receives another warning: the Latin inscription “Homo fuge” (meaning “O man, fly”) appears etched on his arm, likely a warning to escape that Faustus instead interprets as a prompt to continue, wondreing where he should fly first.