Doctor Faustus (sometimes referred to with its original title, The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus) follows the dark, twisted path of the restless scholar of the title. Yearning for infinite knowledge and questioning his faith, Doctor Faustus forsakes his scholarly studies for the dark world of magic and sorcery. He makes a pact with the devil. If the evil spirit, Mephastophilis, will serve him for 24 years, Faustus will bequeath the devil his soul after his death and spend eternity damned in hell. Despite warnings from colleagues, Faustus is blind to the terrifying extent of his actions until it is too late. Going on a journey with Mephastophilis and displaying his magic to a host of influential and important figures, Faustus finally realizes that he has come to the end of his allotted time on earth and learnt nothing. Regretting his deal--signed in his own blood--but unable to do anything about it, Faustus is hauled off down to hell by Mephastophilis and other evil spirits. Highly entertaining, energetic, and darkly funny, Doctor Faustus has a timeless quality, exploring mankind’s insatiable desire for knowledge and power.
Editor’s Note: There are two versions of Marlowe’s play in common usage today. This guide refers to the original play, but there is a second, updated version (also published in the Jacobean era) which includes additional minor characters and short, additional scenes.