Summary of Dr. Faustus

Topics: Faust, Tragedy, Christopher Marlowe Pages: 2 (508 words) Published: March 2, 2014
Christopher Marlowe was an older contemporary of William Shakespeare. "The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus" is his best known work. Christopher Marlowe based his play Doctor Faustus on stories about a scholar and magician, Johann Faust, who allegedly sold his soul to the devil to gain magical powers. Born in 1488, the original Faust wandered through his German homeland until his death in 1541. In 1587, the first story about his life appeared in Germany. What Marlowe creates out of the story is a Medieval morality- play with a late Renaissance temper. In Doctor Faustus, Marlowe has made good use of a conventional Christian doctrine. Faustus strives against human limitation to the point of selling his soul. He is not only a seeker for power but also a knower and a desirer to know. The play begins with Dr. Faustus shown in his study, where he is deciding upon which field to specialise in- Analytics or Logic. Dissatisfied with his human status, he would like to have magical powers of making men live eternally and bringing back the dead to life. He rejects divine learning also, because it is based on a recognition of man’s morality and fallibility. For most of the play, the chorus sets the motion of the drama. The first Act establishes the unscholarly attitude of Faustus and also the base for his tragedy- a poor bargain eventually made with the devil that will leave him devastated in the end. The subplot of Wagner, the scholars and the clown dramatises Faustus’ predicament in very crude terms and have certain comical elements in it. Act 2 outlines the tragedy with greater depth. Faustus’s rebellion against human nature is quite desperate, because it loses more than it gains. But Faustus is “resolved” and shall “never repent”. He finally signs the pact with the devil, giving away his soul in return for the services of limitless knowledge. Acts 3 and 4 are basically about the kind of life Faustus is now leading with the help of Mephistophilis and other minions of...
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