Christopher Marlowe
(additions by William Bird and Samuel Rowley)

DOCTOR FAUSTUS

1588-1592
(additions 1602)

full synopsis available, click here
Go to "Notes of Interest"
Go to "Plays to be Compared"
ARCHBISHOP OF RHEIMS

The Archbishop of Rheims thanks the Pope for inviting him to sit with him at the Pope's victory banquet in the B Text. In the A Text a similar role is played by the Cardinal of Lorraine.

ASTEROTH

Asteroth is one of two devils whom Faustus conjures by name in Act 4 along with Mephostophilis. The other devil is Belimoth.

BALIOL

Baliol is one of two devils whom Wagner conjures up to pressure Clown to become his servant. Baliol is also called Balioll and Banio by Wagner and Balio by Clown.

BANIO

Banio is one of two devils whom Wagner makes appear to pressure Clown to become his servant. He is also called as Baliol or Balioll by Wagner and Balio by Clown.

BELCHER

Belcher is one of two devils whom Wagner makes appear to pressure Clown to become his servant. Later the Clown summons Belcher and Mephistophilis, but only the latter appears. Clown also refers to him as Belcheo.

BELIMOTH

Belimoth is one of two devils whom Faustus conjures by name along with Mephostophilis in Act 4. The other devil is Asteroth.

BELZEBUB

Belzebub appears to Faustus with Lucifer, his "companion prince in hell," and with Mephostophilis early in Act 2 when Faustus waivers in his allegiance and calls on Christ to save his soul. Belzebub says they came from hell to show Faustus the Seven Deadly Sins for pastimes. At the end of the play, he returns with Lucifer and Mephostophilis to claim Faustus' soul and take it to hell.

BENVOLIO

Benvolio is a knight and a courtier to Emperor Charles V. Skeptical of Faustus' power, he mocks the doctor by saying he will turn himself into Acteon, if Faustus conjures up Alexander. Faustus makes a fool of him by planting horns on his head, and Benvolio in revenge organizes his fellow knights, Frederick and Martino, to kill Faustus. Benvolio decapitates and mutilates Faustus, but instead of dying Faustus has devils put horns on the three knights' heads and drag them through the wild. In the A-text, his role, much reduced, is taken by the unnamed Knight.

BRUNO

Bruno, a Saxon, is the rival German pope, elected by the Emperor but defeated by papal forces and marched in chains to Rome in the Pope's victory parade. Condemned to be burned as a heretic, Faustus and Mephostophilis free him and send him safely back to the imperial German court.

CARDINAL OF FRANCE

Asked by the Pope to retrieve from the papal files the decree which condemns Bruno, the Cardinal of France and the Cardinal of Padua are beset with lethargy by Mephostophilis upon Faustus' request, allowing the latter two to impersonate the two cardinals and free Bruno. When France and Padua return to the papal banquet, their answers, ignorant of the impersonators' actions, so infuriate Pope Adrian that he curses their souls and locks them in prison.

CARDINAL OF LORRAINE

A non-speaking character. A guest of honor at the papal victory banquet in the A Text of the play, specifically invited by the Pope to sit and eat

CARDINAL OF PADUA

Asked by the Pope to retrieve from the papal files the decree which condemns Bruno, the Cardinal of France and the Cardinal of Padua are beset with lethargy by Mephostophilis upon Faustus' request, allowing the latter two to impersonate the two cardinals and free Bruno. When France and Padua return to the papal banquet, their answers, ignorant of the impersonators' actions, so infuriate Pope Adrian that he curses their souls and locks them in prison.

CARDINAL, FIRST

Either the Cardinal of France or the Cardinal of Padua, but not specifically identified in the speech headings. In the B-text only, he answers the Pope in confusion, not realizing that Faustus and Mephistophilis have taken his place and the place of his companion Cardinal.

CARTER

In the B-text only, Carter brings Clown, Dick, and Horse-Courser to a tavern for beer and tells them about meeting Faustus on the way to Wittenberg and agreeing to let Faustus eat hay from his cart. Angered when Faustus eats the whole load, Carter confronts Faustus but the latter charms him dumb.

CHARLES, THE GERMAN EMPEROR

Charles V, a historical personage, reigned as Holy Roman Emperor from 1519 to 1556. According to the Chorus, which calls him Carolus the Fifth, the German Emperor hears of Faustus' fame and invites him to court. Charles asks Faustus to conjure up the Spirit of Alexander and the Spirit of Alexander's Paramour, which Faustus does, and Charles rewards him by calling Faustus beloved.

CHORUS

The Chorus sets the stage, provides the moralistic epilogue, and gives background and explanation at key junctures throughout the play. It explains passage of time, describes off-stage action, and paints scenery, characterization, and historical context. It has the first and last words of Dr. Faustus.

CLOWN

The Clown, whose real name is Robin, cares for horses at a hostelry and banters about drink, women, and magic with Dick, Rafe, and other illiterates. After Wagner forces the Clown into his service by calling upon devils, in the B-text only the Clown steals one of Faustus' conjuring books to gain his own servant, Dick, the hostler. They try unsuccessfully to use magic to steal a goblet from the Vinter and obtain beer from the Duke. To dampen his foolery, Mephostophilis at one point puts a squib on his back and then turns him into an ape.

CORNELIUS

Faustus' two friends Cornelius and Valdes win him over to a life of magic. They teach him astrology and necromancy, thereby preparing him mentally for his pact ith the devils which led him first to fame and then to damnation.

COVETOUSNESS

Covetousness, the second of the Seven Deadly Sins, tells Faustus that he wants Faustus' house, and, in addition, he wants every person and thing in the house turned to gold and given to him.

DEVILS

A resplendent hierarchy of Devils appear in many guises and situations in the play, generally to force Faustus' wavering loyalty, but often to serve or entertain him. Lucifer and Belzebub sit at the top as the dual princes of hell, and their servant, Mephostophilis, becomes Faustus' servant when Faustus promises them his soul for 24 years of fame and pleasure.

DICK

In the B-text only, Dick is one of Clown's rowdy companions and banters suggestively with him about conjuring, cuckolding, and boozing. With similar lowlifes Horse-Courser and Carter, he goes drinking and then demands that the Duke let them see Faustus, the Duke's guest. Admitted to the Duke's presence, they make demands of Faustus who turns each of them dumb in turn.

DICK'S MISTRESS

A "ghost character." In the B-text only, Dick states that his mistress has made him a cuckold.

DUCHESS OF VANHOLT

The Duchess of Vanholt, a "great bellied" woman, asks Faustus for grapes out of season and he has Mephostophilis fetch some for her. In the text she is referred to as "Lady."

DUKE OF VANHOLT

Faustus entertains the Duke and Duchess of Vanholt by erecting an enchanted castle in the air before them. Their party is crashed by the half inebriated common folk, Clown, Robin, Horse-Courser, and Carter, who demand revenge of Faustus but who retreat when struck dumb by him. "Vanholt" presumably refers to the historic German Duchy of Anhalt.

EMPEROR

A "ghost character." Presumably the Holy Roman Emperor. Faustus imagines subduing him with magic.

ENVY

Born of a chimney-sweep and an oyster-wife, Envy, the third of the Seven Deadly Sins, wishes famine on the world because she is hungry.

EVIL ANGEL

Evil Angel, always paired with Good Angel, appears early in the play and at the 11th hour to urge Faustus to remain true to his evil arts and to his contract with the Devils. As Faustus approaches death. Evil Angel shows him the "vast perpetual torture-house" of hell and warns him that "ten thousand tortures that more horrid be" await him.

FAUSTUS

Learned Dr. Faustus forswears his books and his students to live a life of pleasure, fame, and fortune by signing away his soul to the devil in return for 24 years of magical power on earth. Although he has second thoughts from time to time, he gains widespread fame and the love both of his Emperor and his Duke while he humiliates his enemies large and small. He tours the world, sates his senses, and is loyally served by Mephostophilis for 24 years until he is cast into eternal damnation when the clock strikes twelve on the final day. He was called "master Fustian" by the Horse-Courser.

FREDERICK

In the B-text only, Frederick is a knight and courtier of German Emperor Charles, Frederick banters about Faustus with fellow knights Benvolio and Martino. He later joins them in seeking revenge for Benvolio by killing Faustus and is punished at Faustus' command with a bloody dragging by devils through mud and rough ground.

FRIARS

Unnamed Friars march and sing along with Cardinals, Bishops, and Monks in the Pope's victory parade and eat with them at the victory banquet. When invisible Faustus speaks saucily to the Pope and steals his food and wine, the Friars search in vain to find him. When the exasperated Pope damns the invisible Faustus and flees his own banquet, the Friars sing a dirge of damnation with bell, book, and candle. In retort Faustus and Mephostophilis beat the friars and throw fireworks among them.

GLUTTONY

The fifth of the Seven Deadly Sins, Gluttony tells Faustus that eats 30 meals a day and 10 snacks and that his father was bacon and his mother was wine.

GOOD ANGEL

Good Angel pleads desperately with Faustus to repent and save his soul, but the counter arguments of Evil Angel win out when Lucifer and Belzebub appear with threats and sinful pleasures. As "the jaws of hell are open to receive" Faustus in the last hour of his 24-year pleasure jaunt, Good Angel laments Faustus' choices and recalls the "cellestial happiness" he lost.

HORSE-COURSER

The Horse-Courser buys Faustus' horse, foolishly ignores Faustus' warning not to ride the horse in water, and suffers when the horse thereby turns into a bottle of hay. Angry, he returns to demand his money back, but finds Faustus asleep. When he tries to wake Faustus, he pulls off the doctor's leg. In the B-text only, he later protests with Carter, Dick, and Clown, and is struck dumb by Faustus.

HOSTESS

In the B-text only, the tavern Hostess greets Clown, Carter, Horse-Courser, and Dick when they arrive to drink, demands payment from Clown for an outstanding debt, and complains that Faustus sent away her guests without paying.

KNIGHT

In the A-text, the Knight is a skeptic who mocks Faustus' magical powers during the latter's visit to the court of Charles V. Faustus makes a fool of him by planting horns on his head, but then removes them when requested by the Emperor. In the B-text his role, much expanded, is taken by Benvolio.

LECHERY

Lechery, the seventh of the Seven Deadly Sins, confides to Faustus that he prefers a bit "of raw mutton" to a surfeit "of fried stockfish."

LUCIFER

Lucifer, prince of hell, tells Faustus that Christ cannot save his soul from damnation, because Christ is just. On two occasions during the play, Lucifer persuades Faustus to renounce Jesus and think on the devil. As the play closes he comes again with Belzebub and Mephostophilis to bring everlasting damnation to Faustus.

MARTINO

In the B-text only, a knight and courtier at Emperor Charles' court, Frederick banters about Faustus with Benvolio and Frederick. Later, when Benvolio seeks revenge, Martino tries to dissuade him but fails and joins him in killing Faustus. He is punished at Faustus' command with a bloody dragging through mud and rough ground.

MEPHOSTOPHILIS

Mephostophilis accepts Faustus' request to become a follower of Lucifer and then becomes Faustus' personal servant for the 24 years of pleasure and power that Faustus received in return for eternal damnation. Mephostophilis warns Faustus of the horrors of hell, but follows his every command and satisfies his every wish. All the conjuring and magic credited to Faustus is actually performed by Mephostophilis.

NAN SPIT

A "ghost character." Nan Spit is the kitchen maid at the inn where Robin works, and Rafe lusts after her.

OLD MAN

As Faustus' death and damnation approach an Old Man enters and urges Faustus to repent to escape "the pains of hell." He pleads unsuccessfully for Faustus to ask for mercy and accept grace.

POPE ADRIAN

The Pope returns victorious to Rome with a train of churchmen and the German rival pope in chains. In the B-text only, he sends two Cardinals to retrieve statutes proving his right, and forces Bruno to serve as his footstool. His feast is disrupted so often by an invisible Faustus, who snatches food and drink from his lips, that he retreats from the banquet hall and commands that a dirge be sung. He is Pope Adrian VI (1522-1523).

POPE JULIUS

A "ghost character." In the B-text only, Bruno insists that Pope Julius established the Holy Roman Emperor as the ruler over the papacy. Pope Adrian rejects this decree on the ground that Julius abused church rites.

POTENTATE OF GERMANY

A "ghost character." Faustus imagines subduing him with magic.

PRIDE

The first of the Seven Deadly Sins, Pride, tells Faustus that she disdains to have parents and that she creeps "into every corner of a wench."

RAFE

Rafe chides his buddy Robin that he cannot read but agrees to work with Robin's magic if the latter can get Nan Spit to sleep with him. After Rafe and Robin cause mischief by making off with Vinter's goblet, Mephostophilis appears and turns Rafe into a dog.

RAYMOND, KING OF HUNGARY

In the B-text only, King Raymond of Hungary fought to victory with Pope Adrian against the German pope, Bruno. He returned to Rome in the papal procession and behaved as a courtier at the Pope's victory banquet.

RECTOR

A "ghost character." The Second Scholar suggests the Rector might be able to persuade Faustus not to turn to magic.

ROBIN

Robin is Clown's given name.

SAXONY

In the B-text only, Saxony, in Emperor Charles' entourage, warns Benvolio that he is speaking to the Emperor.

SCHOLAR, FIRST, SECOND and THIRD

The Scholars, students of Dr. Faustus at Wittenberg, endeavor to dissuade their mentor from turning from classical studies to necromancy and magic. Failing that, they later successfully urge him to produce for them the spirit of the beautiful Helen of Troy. In his final hours they pray to heaven for mercy for Faustus, and they return the next morning, after the devil had claimed his soul, to give his torn body a proper burial.

SERVANT

In the B-text only, the Servant to the Duke of Vanholt parries with the saucy Carter, Clown, Horse-Courser, and Dick when the rowdy group demands an audience with the Duke so that they can question Faustus.

SIGISMOND

A "ghost character." In the B-text only, Sigismond was assured by Pope Julius that the papacy would recognize the Emperor as ruler.

SLOTH

Sloth, the sixth of the Seven Deadly Sins, claims to have been conceived on a sunny bank and lies there still.

SOLDIERS

Non-speaking characters. The Soldiers, led by Frederick, join the ambush of Faustus organized by Benvolio. They arrive late, attack Faustus, and are driven out by devils summoned by Faustus.

SPIRIT OF ALEXANDER THE GREAT

A non-speaking character. The Spirit of Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.E.), described in the play as "Emperor Alexander," is conjured up by Faustus at the German Emperor's request. In the A-text, Alexander merely appears, but in the B-text, Alexander fights the Spirit of Darius, kills him, and places Darius' crown on Alexander's own Paramour's head.

SPIRIT OF ALEXANDER THE GREAT'S PARAMOUR

A non-speaking character. The Spirit of the Paramour of Alexander the Great (Roxana), is conjured up by Faustus at Charles, the German Emperor's request and, in the B-text only, receives the crown of the dead Darius from Alexander. She has a mole on her neck, which Faustus allows Charles to inspect.

SPIRIT OF DARIUS

A non-speaking character. In the B-text only, the Spirit of Darius (Persian Emperor Darius III; reigned 336-330 B.C.E.) appears at the court of Charles, the German Emperor when Faustus conjurs up Alexander. The two fight, and Alexander kills him and places his crown on the head of his own Paramour.

SPIRIT OF HELEN

A non-speaking character. Mephostophilis produces the Spirit of Helen of Troy, called "Helen of Greece" in the play, upon Faustus' command after the Scholars ask Faustus to show her beauty to them. Later Faustus has Mephostophilis bring Helen to him as paramour "to glut" his "heart's desire."

VALDES

Faustus' pair of acquaintances Valdes and Cornelius, whom Faustus declares his "dearest friends," seduce him into learning magic "to canonize" all three together. See Cornelius for details.

VINTER

In the B-text only, the Vinter demands payment from Robin for a silver goblet that Robin stole and handed to Rafe. After Robin's gibberish incantations fail to satisfy the Vinter, Rafe returns the goblet.

WAGNER

Wagner, Faustus' faithful servant, summons Cornelius and Valdes for Faustus, banters foolishly with the Scholars about philosophy, conjures up devils Banio and Belcher to persuade Clown to become his servant, and is willed Faustus' wealth when the latter dies.

WRATH

Wrath, the fourth of the Seven Deadly Sins, tells Faustus that he leapt newborn from a lion's mouth and runs around the world wounding himself when he cannot get anyone to fight him.

Synopsis:

The play opens with a Chorus that tells us of Faustus' career. He was bright enough to be anything--and was a physician, etc. Some of his biography is supplied (born in Rhodes, Germany, traveled to Wittenburg (where, it might be noted, Martin Luther did his work)). But he is now surfeiting upon necromancy.

I.i: Faustus is in his study. Pulling books from the shelf, he abjures Philosophy, medicine, law, and divinity in turn, choosing at last necromancy. A good and a bad angel enter and try to tempt Faustus to their ways--Faustus chooses the bad. He sends his servant, Wagner, to fetch Valdes and Cornelius. When the two men arrive Faustus informs them that, in accord with their advice, he has chosen to study necromancy and requires their tutelage. They readily agree, believing that Faustus's superior mental abilities will assure success and wealth for all three men.

I.ii: Two scholars inquire of Wagner where Faustus is. When they hear he is with Valdes and Cornelius, they recognize Faustus's peril and go to have the Rector pray for him.

I.iii: Faustus conjures up Mephistopheles, but has him put on a friar's habit in order to make himself less ugly to Faustus. He tells Meph. that he will give his soul to the devil in exchange for 24 years of voluptuousness with Meph as his servant. Meph leaves to ask Lucifer about the bargain. They will meet in Faustus's study at midnight.

I.iv: Wagner indentures Robin, a clown, to be his servant. He conjures two devils to frighten Robin into agreeing.

I.v: The two angels again vie for Faustus, again he sides with the bad. Mephistopheles enters and says the bargain is agreeable to Lucifer. When a contract written in Faustus's blood is required, though, Faustus's blood congeals and Meph must heat it to allow it to be written withal. The deed of gift is performed. Faustus first requires Meph to describe hell, and is told that it is everywhere. He next requires a wife of Meph, but Meph balks, giving Faustus a wife of a devil (complete with fireworks) which Faustus rejects. Because marriage requires a sacrament to God Meph suggests Faustus content himself with the courtesans Meph can procure for his delight.

II.i: Faustus, viewing the heavens, attempts to renounce his bargain. Again the good and bad angels enter and again the bad angel wins Faustus back to the fold. Later, though, Faustus asks Christ to save his soul. Lucifer appears and upbraids Faustus for trying to get out of the contract. Faustus is swayed from his repentant thoughts by a masque of the Seven Deadly Sins.

II.ii: Robin has stolen one of Faustus's books of necromancy and, though he cannot read, tries to conjure with it. Dick, Robin's companion, laughs at him and the two go off for a drink.

III.i: The Chorus returns and tells us all of the wondrous things Faustus has done--like soaring on a dragon's back to view the heavenly bodies and all cosmology. And Faustus is now arrived in Rome. Meph informs Faustus that they are in the privy chamber of the very Pope. The Pope enters in pageantry with Bruno--the schismatic Pope--in chains. Bruno is made a footstool for the Pope to climb into his seat of state. Two cardinals are sent forth to determine what is to be done with Bruno. Faustus and Meph disguise themselves as the two cardinals and return to the Pope. They say Bruno must be executed. They are sent to conduct Bruno to prison and are given Bruno's triple crown to put in the treasury. Their plan, of course, is to let Bruno escape and so put the two real cardinals in dutch with the Pope.

III.iii: Bruno has escaped as Faustus and Meph had planned. Meph renders Faustus invisible to work more mischief. The cardinals return and, when they disclaim any knowledge of Bruno or his escape, they are sentenced to prison. At the Pope's banquet Faustus invisible steals the Pope's meal and drink as he tries to enjoy it. He boxes the Pope's ears when the Pope tries to cross himself. The Pope and his train run away and send in friars to exorcise the room with bell, book, and candle. Faustus and Meph beat the friars and chase them off with fireworks.

III.iv: Robin and Rafe are at the book, trying to conjure something. They accidentally call Meph from Faustus. Meph chases them away.

IV.i: The emperor has invited Faustus to court. Benvolio, who appears at a window above, doubts the conjurer's powers as he speaks to Frederick and Martino, two of his friends in the emperor's court.

IV.ii: Charles V requests Faustus to summon Alexander the Great for him to see. Benvolio flouts Faustus from his window. Alexander is summoned and the emperor is impressed. When the spectacle is over Benvolio has horns upon his head. The emperor is amused and Faustus removes the horns. Benvolio is angry, though, and vows revenge.

IV.iii: Benvolio, Martino, Fredrick, and soldiers lie in wait to kill Faustus. They jump the conjurer and cut of his head. Faustus sprouts another head and calls on his minions of hell. The devils grab Benvolio, Martino, and Frederick and carry them off. Meph chases the soldiers away.

IV.iv: Martino, Benvolio, and Frederick return all muddy with horns upon their heads. They have been dragged through fields of mud. They determine to retire to Benvolio's castle and live as hermits until the horns disappear.

IV.v: Faustus wants to return to Wittenberg to spend the last days of his 24-year contract. A Horse-courser offers Faustus 40 dollars for his horse. Faustus sells it with the stipulation the horse not be ridden through water. The horse courser takes the horse. Faustus goes to his study to sleep. The horse courser reenters wet. He thought that Faustus did not want the horse to be ridden in water for fear of the horse displaying some rare quality. Instead the horse turned into a bottle of hay. The horse courser now wants his money back. He tries to wake Faustus to complain and in pulling on the conjurer's leg he pulls it off. He leaves promising to pay 40 dollars more for the injury. After the horse courser leaves Faustus sprouts another leg.

IV.vi: The horse courser meets Dick, Robin, and a Carter in an inn. He relates his distress at losing a horse in the water to a bottle of hay. The Carter tells of how Faustus asked how much the Carter would charge him for all the hay he could eat. The Carter, believing a man could not eat much hay, charged him three farthings and Faustus ate a whole load of hay. Robin tells of Faustus giving him an ape's face. The rioters determine to get drunk and go settle their scores with Faustus.

IV.vii: Faustus has guests. The Duke of Vanholt and his pregnant wife. They have dined and Faustus has shown them a vision of a castle in the air for their entertainment. The pregnant woman voices a craving for grapes, although it is winter and she knows hey are impossible to get. Faustus sends Meph to fetch some from the southern hemisphere. The duchess is quite surprised by getting grapes in January. The rioters enter and try to tease Faustus about his wooden leg. He shows his legs to be real and so amazes the men. When they seek to complain to him he strikes them all dumb. They are frightened and run away. The Duke is amused by the antics.

V.i: Wagner fears Faustus is dying because he has just made out his will leaving all to Wagner. Several scholars enter with Faustus and Meph. They request to be shown Helen of Troy. They are treated to a vision of her. After the scholars leave an old man comes to Faustus and begs him to repent and save his soul from eternal torment. When Faustus tries to repent Meph stops him and reminds him of his contract. He threatens Faustus that a legion of devils will tear him apart if he tries to back out of the contract now. Faustus recants his repentance. He requests to have Helen of Troy as his paramour. This he receives. The old man flies back to heaven.

V.ii: Lucifer goes to visit the souls he is about to collect--chief of whom is Faustus.
The scholars enter with Wagner and Faustus. They are concerned for him and he reveals his contract with the devil. The call on him to seek God. He tells them he fears the devils will tear him apart if he mentions God. The scholars retire into the next room (so as not to tempt God to save them when the devils appear for Faustus) and there pray for Faustus.
Meph confesses that he, indeed, lead Faustus into damnation rather than allowing Faustus to damn himself. The good and bad angels appear and once again vie for Faustus. The good angel cannot sway him with a vision of a golden throne descending from heaven for Faustus and so departs without him. The jaws of hell fall open for Faustus. The evil angel shows Faustus a vision of the damned souls writhing in hell. As the clock strikes eleven Faustus is left alone in his study.
In the final hour of his contract Faustus utters his famous line from Ovid's Amores, I, 13, 40 "O lente, lente currite noctis equi." He seeks to hide himself in earth to no avail. The half-hour strikes. He begs God for mercy--perhaps that his time in hell be limited to 1,000 0r 100,000 years rather than eternity. Midnight strikes. Faustus calls for his body to turn to air to no avail. As the world thunders and lightning strikes he calls to be turned into water so he might hide in the ocean to no avail. Devils enter and carry him into burning hell as he screams to be allowed to burn his books and be saved.

V.iii: Next morning. The scholars enter the study to find Faustus's limbs scattered about, the devils having torn him to pieces for his soul. They determine to "give his mangled limbs due burial."

Epilogue: Chorus admonishes us that "Faustus is gone. Regard his hellish fate."

Characterization:

Like almost all of Marlowe's heroes, Faustus is not a sympathetic character, yet one feels sorry (even horrified) by his demise. Edward II's ending is quite the same emotionally and Barabas's ending is similar iconographically. Like Tamburlaine, Faustus is a proud man who believes he is always in control, although Tamburlaine is correct and Faustus is deceived, both men have the same vaunting pride.

Go Back to Top

Notes of Interest:

There are two versions of this play extant-- one from 1604 and one from 1616. The A version is shorter, and perhaps more representative of the original DF. The second version, B, we know to have been given additions because there is a note in Henslowe's diary that William Birde and Samuel Rowley were paid 4 pounds on 22 November 1602 "for their adicyones in doctor fostes." Most of the additions seem to be in the clowning scenes, which really have little (nothing?) to do with the main action.

The opening chorus seems to refer to other plays of Marlowe's--ll.3-4 might refer to EII and ll.5-6 might refer to Tam.

This play has roots in the Morality plays with its dancing devils and the use of a good and a bad angel vying for the soul of a central character.

The trick knife used in I.v to slice Faustus's arm to draw the blood for the contract might be the same knife used in II Tam for Tamburlaine to slice his arm as proof of his warrior's mentality.

Also as in I Tam there is a conquered character used as a footstool for his conqueror. cf. Bruno and the Pope here to Bajazeth and Tamburlaine there.

When Faustus and Meph disguise themselves as the two cardinals in III.ii they are probably played by the same actors portraying the cardinals. Marlowe found it necessary for the two to call each other "Faustus" (l.163) and "Mephistopheles (l.164) as their first lines upon re-entering in disguise. This is obviously to indicate to the audience that these two men are now meant to be the conjurer and devil. (cf. a like situation in Middleton's MWMM wherein the Succubus disguised as Mistress Harebrain is played by the same actor who plays Mistress Harebrain (Penitent Brothel's love interest)).

In the end Faustus tries to avoid the fires of hell and the element of fire entirely by wishing to hide in any of the four other elements--he names earth, air, and water in sequence as midnight falls.

Plays to be compared:

Marlowe's Tamburlaine (for the trick knife use of conquered man as footstool);

Marlowe's Edward II (for the sympathetic ending of an otherwise rather unsympathetic main character);

Marlowe's Jew Of Malta (for the iconographic ending in hell of the main character);

Marlowe's plays in general (for the use of an anti-heroic main character);

Morality plays in general (for the tradition being called upon of devils and angels fighting over man's soul);

Middleton's A Mad World, My Masters (for the use of actors playing one part to be used as other characters that are supposed to be disguised as those actor's characters.)

Go Back to Top