What is the source of Christopher Marlowe Dr Faustus

What is the source of Christopher Marlowe Dr Faustus

What is the source of Christopher Marlowe Dr Faustus : Write a note on the popular legend of Dr. Faustus. How does Christophe- Marlowe develop it into a popular tragic play?  OR What is the source of Christopher Marlowe’s ‘Dr. Faustus’? How far Marlowe succeeds in making it a successful tragic play?

What is the source of Christopher Marlowe Dr Faustus

Christopher Marlowe was a popular English dramatist and poet of the Elizabethan Age. He is regarded as the greatest dramatist of the University Wits. ‘Dr. Faustus’ is his greatest tragic play. As a tragic hero, Dr. Faustus is regarded as one of the greatest classic figures. It is important to know what the Faustus legend was and how Marlowe turned that into a popular tragic play. It is interesting to study how the legend of Faustus. passes through changes in Marlowe’s hands and enjoys such a great popularity.

The legend of Faustus-

The legend of Faust or Faustus has its origin in Germany. He was a semi-legendary scholar of great ability. It is said that he made an agreement with the devil to gain limitless knowledge to be the most powerful man in the world.

They say his real name was Dr Johann Faust and he was born in . Wertenberg in about 1480. He was born in a poor family but his scholarship impressed his relatives so greatly that they afforded his higher studies. Johann Faust was a university student who later on became a university teacher. He was expert in conjuring and telling fortunes. He travelled from town to town to display his learning As a great magician, his reputation spread far and wide. He worshipped Satan and insulted the devotees of God for he had sold his soul to the devil to attain supernatural powers. He died mysteriously and the mysterious circumstances of his death confirmed his ill fame.

Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus-

Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus suffers from his Renaissance ambition to attain limitless power. He has mastered all the branches of learning. Dr. Faustus gives up his all for magic. He decides to be a magician. He believes books of magic are heavenly. He believes that a perfect magician lives in a world of profit and delight. In fact, Faustus suffers from Renaissance ambition. It provokes him to attain limitless power. In his opinion, only magic can provide him with such powers. He derives these powers from devilish sources. Therefore, Faustus is determined to practice magic.

For it, Faustus gives his soul to Lucifer by writing a deed of gift in his own blood. Mephistopheles becomes Faustus’ attendant to offer him whatever he demands. Faustus wishes to have a wife, but Mephistopheles asks him to be satisfied with a mistress, perfect in giving sexual pleasures. Now Faustus thinks that magic will not make him powerful. Mephistopheles has misguided him. Faustus decides to give up magic and repent for his sin. Faustus fails to decide if it was right to practice magic. Magic has deprived Faustus of heavenly blessings.

Faustus’ downfall-

Faustus passes his whole time in worldly pleasures and feasts with the students. An old man enters. He is symbol of wisdom and experience. He wishes to guide Faustus. Faustus is lost in worldly pleasures. Seeing it, the old man feels sorry. He wishes to guide and bring Dr. Faustus back on the right way of life. Otherwise, Faustus will not get salvation. Old man advises Faustus to give up his sinful activities. Faustus should repent for his sins. He should confess by breaking heart to drop blood, mixed with tears. It is aroused by true sorrow. According to the old man, Faustus’ heart is full of the ugliest sin. Its bed smell corrupts his soul. Only the mercy of God may save him from this heavy guilt. The stains of guilt are washed only with Christ’s blood.

Faustus’ realization of truth-

Faustus has discovered his tragedy. Faustus is frightened and willing to forget his misfortune. Faustus requests Mephistopheles to provide him with heavenly Helen of Troy as his mistress. Faustus wonders looking at Helen’s attractive face and understands why a thousand ships took part in the horrible battle of Troy, and the high towers of Troy were destroyed for this lady. Helen is immortal for her beauty is immortal. Faustus asks Helen to make him immortal with a kiss. Her kiss is so deep that Faustus fears her lips suck forth his soul.

He asks her not to fly with his soul and requests her to give him back his soul again. Her way of loving is so charming that Faustus decides to live with her. According to him, heavenly joys are provided by her lips. He declares only Helena is worthy and all other things are worthless.

Faustus’ repentance and tragic end –

It is the end of Faustus’ life and he feels sorry for his sin of selling his soul to Lucifer. The clock strikes eleven. Only one hour is left in Faustus’ life. Faustus is alarmed to think that he has only one hour to live. His cursed death is at hand. His death is cursed for he is deprived of salvation. His soul is bound to be tortured in hell. He makes a foolish wish that the sun and the moon should not move. If they stop, time will stop and midnight will never come. Faustus hopes that in that condition death will never come. He requests the sun to rise and rise again to make a morning and that morning should be everlasting. In this way, the midnight will never come.

He prays God to make this hour as long as a year, a month, a week, or a natural day. Faustus is willing to have sufficient time to repent for his past sins. He hopes to save his soul from going to hell in this way. Faustus’ end is tragic. It is inspiring too. Faustus’ untimely tragic death should be taken as a lesson. It warns all the scholars to be far from unlawful things. There is no need to take interest in them.

Their deep knowledge may attract them to do those sinful activities that are forbidden, No man is more cunning than Lucifer. If once Lucifer feels that he may win the soul of anybody, he spreads his net so nicely that a scholar like Faustus who was expert in religious studies gave up God for Lucifer.


Faustus’ tragic end warns all to remain far from the forces of evil that look attractive and seduce even the wisest. Dr. Faustus’ downfall is a glaring example of it.

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