Drama

Doctor Faustus

Christopher Marlowe’s The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus tells the story of one of the most famous deals with the devil in Western literature. Faustus, a German scholar filled with boredom and ambition, trades his soul for 24 years of unrestricted knowledge and magical abilities. Though Faustus never actually performs magic on stage, he is able to command the demon Mephistophilis to do his bidding. Faustus initially plans to conquer the world and make all men bow to him. But over the course of the play, the audience sees Faustus’ ambition fade to parlor tricks and meaningless pranks that pass time. Using tension between comedy and tragedy, a main character with suspect motives for selling his soul, and absurd tangents into symbolic subplots, Doctor Faustus has puzzled and fascinated audiences for centuries. The main character’s stubborn pride and heart-breaking final deliberation will make the audience question along with everyone onstage, “Faustus, must thou needs be damned?”

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