Doctor Faustus

Doctor Faustus Character Analysis

A gifted scholar of humble origins living in Wittenberg, Germany in the 16th century, Doctor Faustus is the tragic hero of Marlowe's play. Having come to what he believes is the limits of traditional knowledge, he decides to sell his soul to the devil in exchange for twenty-four years of unlimited knowledge and power. To be Faustian is to be recklessly ambitious, and Marlowe's Faust uses his newfound power to travel around the world and attain all kinds of knowledge. However, he also uses his magic to engage in petty practical jokes (at the expense of the pope, for example) and to indulge his desire for a beautiful woman (summoning Helen of Troy to be his lover). Faustus begins to see the error of his ways early on in the play, and wavers in his commitment to his deal with Lucifer, but it is not until the final scene of the play that he realizes his doom. While he tries to repent at the end of the play, Christ is merely one out of a number of things he calls out to for help, and he still attempts to bargain with Christ, asking for salvation in return for a thousand or more years in hell. It is somewhat ambiguous to what degree Faustus actually repents, but in any case it is to no avail. As the chorus informs the audience at the play's conclusion, he ends up falling to hell.

Doctor Faustus Quotes in Doctor Faustus

The Doctor Faustus quotes below are all either spoken by Doctor Faustus or refer to Doctor Faustus. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Temptation, Sin, and Redemption Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. edition of Doctor Faustus published in 2005.
Prologue Quotes

...Till, swollen with cunning, of a self-conceit,
His waxen wings did mount above his reach,
And melting heavens conspired his overthrow.
For falling to a devilish exercise,
And glutted more with learning's golden gifts,
He surfeits upon cursed necromancy. (20-25)

Related Characters: Chorus (speaker), Doctor Faustus
Page Number: Pro.20-25
Explanation and Analysis:

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Scene 1 Quotes

Why then belike we must sin,
And so consequently die.
Ay, we must die an everlasting death.
What doctrine call you this? Che sara, sara
What will be, shall be! Divinity, adieu!
These metaphysics of magicians,
And necromantic books are heavenly! (44-50)

Related Characters: Doctor Faustus (speaker)
Page Number: 1.1.45-50
Explanation and Analysis:

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O Faustus, lay that damned book aside,
And gaze not on it, lest it tempt thy soul,
And heap God's heavy wrath upon thy head. (70-72)

Related Characters: Good Angel and Evil Angel (speaker), Doctor Faustus
Related Symbols: The Good and Evil Angels
Page Number: 1.1.70-72
Explanation and Analysis:

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How am I glutted with conceit of this!
Shall I make spirits fetch me what I please,
Resolve me of all ambiguities,
Perform what desperate enterprise I will?
I'll have them fly to India for gold,
Ransack the ocean for orient pearl,
And search all corners of the new-found world
For pleasant fruits and princely delicates. (78-85)

Related Characters: Doctor Faustus (speaker)
Page Number: 1.1.78-85
Explanation and Analysis:

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Philosophy is odious and obscure,
Both law and physic are for petty wits;
Divinity is basest of the three,
Unpleasant, harsh, contemptible, and vile.
‘Tis magic, magic that hath ravished me. (106-110)

Related Characters: Doctor Faustus (speaker)
Page Number: 1.1.106-110
Explanation and Analysis:

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Scene 3 Quotes

I am a servant to great Lucifer,
And may not follow thee without his leave;
No more than he commands must we perform. (40-42)

Related Characters: Mephastophilis (speaker), Doctor Faustus, Lucifer
Page Number: 1.3.40-42
Explanation and Analysis:

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For when we hear one rack the name of God,
Abjure the Scriptures, and his savior Christ,
We fly in hope to get his glorious soul. (47-49)

Related Characters: Mephastophilis (speaker), Doctor Faustus
Page Number: 1.3.47-49
Explanation and Analysis:

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Go bear these tidings to great Lucifer,
Seeing Faustus hath incurred eternal death
By desperate thoughts against Jove's deity:
Say, he surrenders up to him his soul
So he will spare him four and twenty years,
Letting him live in all voluptuousness,
Having thee ever to attend on me,
To give me whatsoever I ask,
To tell me whatsoever I demand,
To slay mine enemies, and aid my friends,
And always be obedient to my will. (87-89)

Related Characters: Doctor Faustus (speaker), Mephastophilis, Lucifer
Page Number: 1.3.87-97
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Had I as many souls as there be stars,
I'd give them all for Mephastophilis.
By him I'll be great emperor of the world. (102-104)

Related Characters: Doctor Faustus (speaker), Mephastophilis
Page Number: 1.3.102-104
Explanation and Analysis:

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Scene 5 Quotes

Now Faustus, must thou needs be damned,
And canst thou not be saved.
What boots it then to think of God or heaven? (1-3)

Related Characters: Doctor Faustus (speaker)
Page Number: 2.1.1-3
Explanation and Analysis:

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But Faustus, thou must bequeath it solemnly,
And write a deed of gift with thine own blood,
For that security craves great Lucifer. (34-36)

Related Characters: Mephastophilis (speaker), Doctor Faustus, Lucifer
Related Symbols: Blood
Page Number: 2.1.34-36
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Thanks, Mephastophilis, yet fain would I have a book wherein I might behold all spells and incantations, that I might raise up spirits when I please. [...] Nay, let me have one book more, and then I have done, wherein I might see all plants, herbs, and trees that grow upon the earth. (163-173)

Related Characters: Doctor Faustus (speaker), Mephastophilis
Page Number: 2.1.161-171
Explanation and Analysis:

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When I behold the heavens, then I repent,
And curse thee, wicked Mephastophilis,
Because thou hast deprived me of those joys. (177-179)

Related Characters: Doctor Faustus (speaker), Mephastophilis
Page Number: 2.3.1-3
Explanation and Analysis:

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Why should I die then, or basely despair?
I am resolved! Faustus shall ne'er repent.
Come, Mephastophilis, let us dispute again,
And argue of divine astrology. (207-210)

Related Characters: Doctor Faustus (speaker), Mephastophilis
Page Number: 2.3.31-34
Explanation and Analysis:

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Never too late, if Faustus will repent. (254)

Related Characters: Good Angel and Evil Angel (speaker), Doctor Faustus
Related Symbols: The Good and Evil Angels
Page Number: 2.3.76
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Scene 12 Quotes

Ah stay, good Faustus, stay thy desperate steps!
I see an angel hovers o'er thy head
And with a vial full of precious grace
Offers to pour the same into thy soul!
Then call for mercy, and avoid despair. (42-47)

Related Characters: Old Man (speaker), Doctor Faustus
Related Symbols: The Good and Evil Angels, Blood
Page Number: 5.1.52-56
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa

Accursed Faustus, where is mercy now?
I do repent, and yet I do despair:
Hell strives with grace for conquest in my breast! (53-55)

Related Characters: Doctor Faustus (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Good and Evil Angels
Page Number: 5.1.62-65
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Sweet Mephastophilis, entreat thy lord
To pardon my unjust presumption;
And with my blood again I will confirm
My former vow I made to Lucifer. (60-63)

Related Characters: Doctor Faustus (speaker), Mephastophilis, Lucifer
Related Symbols: Blood
Page Number: 5.1.70-73
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

One thing, good servant, let me crave of thee,
To glut the longing of my heart's desire:
That I might have unto my paramour
That heavenly Helen which I saw of late,
Whose sweet embracings may extinguish clean
These thoughts that do dissuade me from my vow:
And keep mine oath I made to Lucifer. (72-78)

Related Characters: Doctor Faustus (speaker), Mephastophilis, Lucifer
Page Number: 5.1.81-87
Explanation and Analysis:

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Scene 13 Quotes

Yet Faustus, look up to heaven; remember God's mercies are infinite. (13-14)

Related Characters: Three Scholars (speaker), Doctor Faustus
Page Number: 5.2.13-14
Explanation and Analysis:

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But Faustus' offense can ne'er be pardoned! The serpent that tempted Eve may be saved, but not Faustus. (15-16)

Related Characters: Doctor Faustus (speaker)
Page Number: 5.2.15-16
Explanation and Analysis:

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On God, whom Faustus hath blasphemed? Ah my God—I would weep, but the devil draws in my tears! gush forth blood, instead of tears—yea, life and soul! O, he stays my tongue! I would lift up my hands, but see, they hold them, they hold them! (27-31)

Related Characters: Doctor Faustus (speaker)
Related Symbols: Blood
Page Number: 5.2.28-33
Explanation and Analysis:

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O I'll leap up to my God! Who pulls me down?
See, see where Christ's blood streams in the firmament!
One drop would save my soul, half a drop: ah my Christ. (69-71)

Related Characters: Doctor Faustus (speaker)
Related Symbols: Blood
Page Number: 5.2.73-75
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Ugly hell gape not! Come not, Lucifer!
I'll burn my books—ah, Mephastophilis! (112-113)

Related Characters: Doctor Faustus (speaker), Mephastophilis, Lucifer
Page Number: 5.2.115-116
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Epilogue Quotes

Regard his hellish fall,
Whose fiendful fortune may exhort the wise
Only to wonder at unlawful things:
Whose deepness doth entice such forward wits
To practice more than heavenly power permits. (4-8)

Related Characters: Chorus (speaker), Doctor Faustus
Page Number: E.4-8
Explanation and Analysis:

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Doctor Faustus Character Timeline in Doctor Faustus

The timeline below shows where the character Doctor Faustus appears in Doctor Faustus. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Prologue
The Renaissance Individual Theme Icon
...deal with neither epic, nor heroic, nor courtly matters, but merely with “the form of Faustus' fortunes, good or bad” (Prologue, 8). (full context)
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The Chorus summarizes Faustus's biography, including his humble origins, precociousness as a student, interest in necromancy, and eventual fall... (full context)
Scene 1
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Alone in his study (in Wittenberg, Germany), Faustus delivers his first soliloquy. He professes to have sounded the depths of each major field... (full context)
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Faustus decides instead to devote himself to gaining power through a mastery of magic. He praises... (full context)
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Wagner, Faustus's servant, enters. Faustus tells him to invite the magicians Valdes and Cornelius to visit him.... (full context)
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As Faustus waits for Valdes and Cornelius to arrive, the Good Angel and Bad Angel enter. The... (full context)
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Alone again, Faustus delivers another soliloquy, imagining the “pleasant fruits and princely delicates” (1, 82) his devil servants... (full context)
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The magicians Valdes and Cornelius arrive, and Faustus welcomes them, revealing his intention to listen to their past encouragement to study necromancy and... (full context)
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Valdes and Cornelius are excited that Faustus is going to try magic. Valdes compares the power he'll have to Spanish lords, lions,... (full context)
Scene 2
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Two Scholars enter and linger outside Faustus's house. One wonders what became of Faustus, who was once was famous for his passion... (full context)
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The Scholars catch sight of Wagner, who enters. They question him as to Faustus's whereabouts, and Wagner hedges, mocking their academic language before finally revealing that Faustus is at... (full context)
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The Scholars bemoan Faustus's turn towards necromancy, and resolve to inform the head of the university of this development.... (full context)
Scene 3
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Faustus enters, looking up at the night sky as a thunderstorm rages. Faustus describes how he... (full context)
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One devil, Mephastophilis, appears before Faustus, who immediately commands him to leave and come back in a different shape: “Thou are... (full context)
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Mephastophilis re-enters and asks Faustus what he wants him to do. Faustus commands him to wait on him, to do... (full context)
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Faustus asks Mephastophilis about Lucifer and the fallen angels: why they fell, where they are damned,... (full context)
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Faustus tells Mephastophilis to propose a deal to Lucifer: Faustus will give Lucifer his soul in... (full context)
Scene 5
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Faustus begins to doubt whether he has made a good deal. He considers turning back to... (full context)
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The Good Angel and Evil Angel appear. The Good Angel tries to convince Faustus to repent and seek God again, asking him to think of heaven. The Evil Angel... (full context)
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Faustus resolves to go with his deal, thinking of all the wealth he will amass. He... (full context)
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Faustus asks what Lucifer wants with his soul. Mephastophilis informs him that Lucifer seeks to enlarge... (full context)
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After Mephastophilis brings hot coals to warm his blood back into liquid, Faustus signs the agreement. Immediately, he sees written on his arm the words homo fuge (Latin... (full context)
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Mephastophilis leaves and re-enters with more devils, bringing Faustus crowns and expensive clothing. Mephastophilis promises Faustus that he now has access to riches and... (full context)
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With his newfound power, Faustus first seeks to increase his knowledge. He asks Mephastophilis exactly where hell is. Mephastophilis answers... (full context)
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Faustus orders Mephastophilis to get him a wife and he returns with a devil in women's... (full context)
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The mention of the heavens causes Faustus to think of heaven and he debates repenting and renouncing magic. At this, the Good... (full context)
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After resolving not to repent, Faustus continues asking Mephastophilis questions. He asks him about astronomy, the planets, and the universe. He... (full context)
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As soon as Faustus mentions possibly repenting, the angels appear again. The Evil Angel tells him it is too... (full context)
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At Faustus' invocation of Christ, Mephastophilis appears with Lucifer and Belzebub (another devil). Lucifer tells Faustus that... (full context)
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Lucifer announces that he has come to show Faustus the Seven Deadly Sins “in their proper shapes,” (5, 274) for which Faustus is excited.... (full context)
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Faustus is pleased at seeing the sins, and eagerly asks Lucifer to see hell. Lucifer says... (full context)
Scene 6
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A stablehand named Robin enters and announces that he has stolen one of Faustus' conjuring books. He is eager to learn some magic, but is interrupted by Rafe, another... (full context)
Chorus 2
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Alone on the stage, Wagner announces that Faustus has ridden in a chariot drawn by dragons through the sky to learn the secrets... (full context)
Scene 7
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Faustus enters with Mephastophilis. Faustus recounts how they have traveled throughout Europe and asks Mephastophilis if... (full context)
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...by the German emperor. The pope humiliates and ridicules Bruno for opposing him. Mephastophilis and Faustus disguise themselves as two cardinals and the pope gives Bruno to them to be executed.... (full context)
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...the pope enters with a cardinal and some friars, ready to eat at a banquet. Faustus and Mephastophilis, invisible, curse loudly and snatch dishes from the table. The pope and the... (full context)
Scene 8
Temptation, Sin, and Redemption Theme Icon
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...and Rafe enter with a silver goblet they have stolen. They are attempting to use Faustus' book to conjure. A vintner (wine merchant) interrupts them, demanding they pay for the goblet.... (full context)
Chorus 3
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The chorus enters and tells the audience that Faustus has returned home from his travels, amazing his friends with what he has learned of... (full context)
Scene 9
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...V, named Martino and Frederick, discuss Bruno's escape from the pope and the now-famous Doctor Faustus. A knight named Benvolio arrives. He is not impressed by Faustus' devil-inspired conjuring and says... (full context)
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At the court of the emperor, Charles V eagerly asks Faustus to prove his skills in magic by performing a spell, though a knight (the same... (full context)
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The skeptical knight doesn't believe that Faustus can bring Alexander forth, and leaves, not wanting to be present for the conjuring. Faustus... (full context)
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The spirits leave, and Faustus asks for the emperor to call the skeptical knight back to court. The knight re-enters... (full context)
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In the B-text, after Faustus leaves, Martino and Frederick re-enter with Benvolio. Irritated by Faustus' prank, Benvolio plots to kill... (full context)
Scene 10
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Back in Wittenberg, Faustus meets with a horse-courser (horse trader) and sells him his horse. He warns the trader... (full context)
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The horse-courser returns, completely wet, and angrily calls for Faustus. He had ridden the horse out into the middle of a pond (thinking that Faustus'... (full context)
Temptation, Sin, and Redemption Theme Icon
...a tavern. At the bar, a carter (a cart-driver) tells them that he ran into Faustus on a road and Faustus paid him to give him all of the hay from... (full context)
Scene 11
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The Duke and Duchess of Vanholt entertain Faustus (and Mephastophilis) at court. Faustus asks the Duchess what he can conjure that would please... (full context)
Chorus 4
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In a brief interlude between scenes, Wagner thinks aloud to the audience that Faustus must be nearing death, because he has given Wagner all of his possessions. But Wagner... (full context)
Scene 12
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Faustus and Mephastophilis are with several scholars. One of them asks Faustus to conjure up Helen,... (full context)
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An old man enters and tries to attempt Faustus to repent. Faustus is enraged and shouts that he is damned and ought to die.... (full context)
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Faustus says he wants to repent. In response, Mephastophilis calls him a traitor and threaten to... (full context)
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Helen appears and Faustus begs for her kiss, asking her to “give me my soul again,” (12, 85). The... (full context)
Scene 13
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Faustus enters with the scholars from earlier. Faustus is in despair, as the end of his... (full context)
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Faustus explains that he wanted to go back on his deal, but Mephastophilis threatened to tear... (full context)
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Faustus cries to God for help, but at the name of God he feels pain in... (full context)
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The clock rings out: Faustus has half an hour left. He begs God for mercy and asks to be in... (full context)
Epilogue
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The chorus announces that Faustus is gone and tells the audience to see his downfall as an example of why... (full context)