Study Guide

Doctor Faustus Act 1, Scene 3

By Christopher Marlowe

Act 1, Scene 3

  • Let's check in with Faustus and his magical men after dinner. 
  • Faustus draws a circle and begins an incantation to call the spirit Mephistopheles.
  • When Mephistopheles shows up, Faustus thinks the little devil is just too ugly. He wants him to leave and come back when he looks more like a friar. For real. 
  • When Mephistopheles has finished following these orders, he asks Faustus, whaddya want? 
  • Faust commands Mephistopheles to serve him while he lives, but that's a bit of a problem. See, Mephistopheles has to get the a-okay from Lucifer, whom he serves first and foremost.
  • Whatever Faustus thinks happened, Mephistopheles assures him that Lucifer did not allow him to appear before Faustus; rather, the devils always gather around a person who blasphemes like, oh, Faustus, in the hopes of winning that person's soul away from God.
  • Ah, but guys, Faustus is already the devil's servant, and he's not a lick scared of damnation because in Hell, he'll get to chat it up with the pagan philosophers. Yeah, that sounds like a great afterlife… 
  • Now it's time for the lowdown on the devil hierarchy. See, according to Mephistopheles, Lucifer is the highest-ranked devil. He was once an angel of God but fell on account of his pride. (See Paradise Lost if you want Milton's version of events.)
  • Then Lucifer joined up with all the other devilish spirits in a conspiracy against God. 
  • That means that Mephistopheles is always in hell, no matter where he goes, because he's always separated from God and the joys of heaven. 
  • Instead of, you know, listening to the guy, Faustus just mocks Mephistopheles for being so upset about having lost salvation.
  • Since he has already damned himself by blaspheming, Faustus has already made up his mind. The deal is sealed.
  • He wants to surrender his soul to Satan in exchange for twenty-four years on Earth with Mephistopheles as his servant.
  • Mephistopheles leaves to take Lucifer this message and a very excited Faustus beams at the thought of all the power he'll have, once he hands over his soul.