We have changed our privacy policy. In addition, we use cookies on our website for various purposes. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. You can learn about our practices by reading our privacy policy.
© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
Doctor Faustus

Doctor Faustus


by Christopher Marlowe

Doctor Faustus Act 1, Scene 1 Summary

  • Meet Faustus. He's busy trying to figure out what in the world he wants to do with his life.
  • As he mulls over the options—philosophy, medicine, law—he rejects them all for being too boring and too pointless. 
  • Of course there's always theology; he's really good at that.
  • But no dice. See, the problem is, every time he reads the Bible, Faustus can't help but conclude that man's sins give him no hope of heaven anyways. 
  • Finally, he makes the call: Faustus decides to study magic, of all things, because a magician is almost like a god.
  • Okay, time to get cracking on his plan. He tells his servant, Wagner, to fetch Valdes and Cornelius, his friends, who happen to be a couple of magicians. They should be able to help, right?
  • But before they can stop by, the Good Angel enters and tells Faustus to lay the books of magic aside, and to read the scriptures instead. Seriously, dude, magic?
  • Ah, never mind him, says the Bad Angel. Faustus should go ahead with his plan, because he'll be godlike, and what's so wrong with that? 
  • Faustus is totally convinced, and begins to wax poetic about all the things he'll do once he masters magic. He's totally pumped about the whole power thing.
  • Valdes and Cornelius enter, and Faustus gives them the good news: Dudes, I want to be a magician! Finally! 
  • Awesome, says Valdes. He tells Faustus that through their studies of magic, they'll gain the spirits as their slaves, and accumulate unimaginable wealth.
  • For his part, Cornelius says that Faustus already knows the basic principles of magic, since he's learned in astrology, languages, and geology. So this'll be a breeze.
  • He also says that Faustus will become totally famous for his magic, and totally wealthy, too. Seriously, this magic business is starting to sound like a really good idea.
  • Valdes and Cornelius tell Faustus to come with them to a deserted grove, and to bring the books of Bacon, Albanus, and the Old and New Testaments. Hey, whatever you say, guys.
  • But first, Faustus invites them to dine with him. You can't do magic on an empty stomach—didn't your mother ever tell you that?

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...