Key characters of Dr. Faustus

The character descriptions of Dr. Faustus.

  • Created by: Becca
  • Created on: 08-03-10 21:53

Dr. Faustus

Faustus is the protagonist and tragic hero of Marlowe’s play.

He is a contradictory character, capable of tremendous eloquence and possessing awesome ambition, yet prone to a strange, almost willful blindness and a willingness to waste powers that he has gained at great cost.

He represents the spirit of the Renaissance, with its rejection of the medieval, God-centered universe, and its embrace of human possibility. Faustus, at least early on in his acquisition of magic, is the personification of possibility.

Marlowe uses much of his finest poetry to describe Faustus’s final hours, during which Faustus’s desire for repentance finally wins out, although too late. Still, Faustus is restored to his earlier grandeur in his closing speech, with its hurried rush from idea to idea and its despairing, Renaissance-renouncing last line, “I’ll burn my books!” He becomes once again a tragic hero, a great man undone because his ambitions have butted up against the law of God.

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From his first appearance he clearly intends to act as an agent of Faustus’s damnation.

It is Mephastophilis who witnesses Faustus’s pact with Lucifer, and it is he who, throughout the play, steps in whenever Faustus considers repentance to cajole or threaten him into staying loyal to hell.

Mephastophilis groans and insists that hell is, indeed, real and terrible.

It is appropriate that these two figures dominate Marlowe’s play, for they are two overly proud spirits doomed to hell.

He seeks to damn Faustus, but he himself is damned and speaks freely of the horrors of hell.

He is a terrifying Devil and has similar temper - tempts Faustus to his fall.

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