Christopher Marlowe“Faustus’s Bargain” (from The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus, 1604)Literary type: Drama (a Christian tragedy)
Christopher Marlowe (1564-93)•A poet and playwright, he was the greatest figure in Elizabethan drama before Shakespeare.•His life has become a legend, with its disdain for all convention, its irreverence, its reckless vitality. He was stabbed to death in a quarrel with a man over the settlement of a tavern bill for supper
Doctor Faustus: Overview (1604; rev. 1616)•This is perhaps the first dramatization of the medieval legend of a 16th century German scholar who sold his soul to the Devil in return for forbidden knowledge, power, and sensual pleasure.•The legend was first published in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1587, and was translated into English as The History of the Damnable Life and Deserved Death of Doctor John Faustus.
Doctor Faustus: Overview •Marlowe’s play follows this translation in general, though not in the conception of the principal character, who from a mere magician becomes, under the poet’s hand, a man athirst for infinite power, ambitious to be “great Emperor of the world.”
Doctor Faustus: Overview •Faustus, a renowned scholar, turns to magic and calls up Mephastophilis, a devil, with whom he makes a compact to surrender his soul to Lucifer, the prince of devils, in return for 24 years of exciting life. During these years, Mephastophilis shall attend on him and give him whatsoever he demands.