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Doctor Faustus

Doctor Faustus


by Christopher Marlowe

Faustus Timeline and Summary

  • Faustus decides the study of philosophy, medicine, law, and theology is a waste of time.
  • He decides to study magic instead, because magic will bring him all kinds of goodies—power, wealth, answers. 
  • Good thing he has some magician buddies (Valdes and Cornelius) to help him learn the tricks of the trade.
  • Faustus meets the devil Mephistopheles, and signs over his soul to the devil in exchange for Mephistopheles's services for twenty-four years. 
  • Mephistopheles teaches Faustus about the nature of hell and the devil, the stars and planets, and the Seven Deadly Sins.
  • Then Faustus travels on a dragon-drawn chariot among the stars and planets, then around the globe, before landing in Rome, where he rescues the Saxon pope Bruno from punishment at the hands of the Roman pope.
  • He torments the Roman pope by making himself invisible and stealing his dishes and food.
  • Later, at the court of the Holy Roman Emperor, Faustus conjures Alexander the Great, then escapes death at the hands of a courtier he has humiliated, whom he, in turn, punishes severely. Yep, it's a big ol' mess.
  • Back home, Faustus sells an enchanted horse to a horse-dealer who tries to get revenge by tearing off Faustus's leg. That doesn't go so well. 
  • He conjures a castle in the air and some grapes for the Duke and Duchess of Vanholt, at whose court he charms dumb the peasants who accuse him of humiliating them with his magic tricks.
  • Faustus conjures Helen of Troy for a group of scholars, then takes her as his lover. Um, selfish much?
  • Faustus finally tells his scholar friends that he is damned to hell because he has sold his soul to the devil. Oh, so that's why you've been acting so weird, buddy. We thought it was the shellfish.
  • In his last hours, Faustus longs for his soul to disappear so he can escape eternal torment, but his devils arrive to tear his body to pieces and carry him to hell.
  • And… scene.