Demise of Dr Faustus

FULL TITLE   · Published initially as The Tragicall History of D. Faustus, then as The Tragicall History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus

AUTHOR   · Christopher Marlowe


GENRE   · Tragedy

LANGUAGE   · English

TIME AND PLACE WRITTEN   · Early 1590s; England

DATE OF FIRST PUBLICATION   · The A text was first published in 1604, the B text in 1616.

PUBLISHER   · Uncertain; possibly Philip Henslowe, a theatrical entrepreneur

NARRATOR   · None for the most part, but the Chorus, which appears intermittently between scenes, provides background information and comments on the action

POINT OF VIEW   · While he sometimes cedes the stage to the Chorus or the lesser, comic characters, Faustus is central figure in the play, and he has several long soliloquies that let us see things from his point of view.

TONE   · Grandiose and tragic, with occasional moments of low comedy

TENSE   · The Chorus, who provides the only narration, alternates between the present and past tenses.

SETTING (TIME)   · The 1580s

SETTING (PLACE)   · Europe, specifically Germany and Italy

PROTAGONIST   · Doctor Faustus

MAJOR CONFLICT   · Faustus sells his soul to Lucifer in exchange for twenty-four years of immense power, but the desire to repent begins to plague him as the fear of hell grows in him.

RISING ACTION   · Faustus’s study of dark magic and his initial conversations with Mephastophilis

CLIMAX   · Faustus’s sealing of the pact that promises his soul to Lucifer

FALLING ACTION   · Faustus’s traveling of the world and performing of magic for various rulers

THEMES   · Sin, redemption, and damnation; the conflict between medieval and Renaissance values; absolute power and corruption; the dividedness of human nature

MOTIFS   · Magic and the supernatural; practical jokes

SYMBOLS   · Blood; Faustus’s rejection of the ancient authorities; the good angel and the evil angel

FORESHADOWING   · The play constantly...