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Doctor Faustus | Study Guide

Christopher Marlowe

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Doctor Faustus | Scene Summaries

See Scene Summaries Chart

Timeline of Events

  • Early 16th century

    Doctor Faustus rejects the study of traditional branches of knowledge in favor of studying magic.

    Act 1, Scene 1
  • Moments later

    Faustus ignores the Good Angel's dire warnings to turn away from the path to damnation.

    Act 1, Scene 1
  • Shortly afterward

    The Good Angel and the Evil Angel try to sway Faustus to good or evil.

    Act 1, Scene 1
  • That evening

    Faustus engages his friends Valdes and Cornelius to instruct him in the basics of magic.

    Act 1, Scene 1
  • Later, on a winter's eve

    Faustus uses his conjuring skills to summon a devil, Mephastophilis.

    Act 1, Scene 3
  • That same evening

    Faustus offers Lucifer his soul in exchange for 24 years of service from Mephastophilis.

    Act 1, Scene 3
  • Later, at midnight

    Lucifer accepts Faustus's offer. The pact is written and signed with Faustus's blood.

    Act 2, Scene 1
  • After signing

    Faustus learns the nature of hell, the secrets of the physical universe, and the ways of magic.

    Act 2, Scene 1
  • Some while later

    Faustus questions his life path, but Lucifer lures him on with a display of the Seven Deadly Sins.

    Act 2, Scene 3
  • Over time

    Faustus's knowledge of the dark arts grows. He travels throughout much of Europe by magic.

    Act 3, Chorus
  • St. Peter's feast day

    Faustus travels to Rome and, while invisible, plays pranks on the pope and his banquet guests.

    Act 3, Scene 1
  • As time passes

    Faustus's fame spreads. He conjures Alexander the Great for the Holy Roman emperor, Charles V.

    Act 4, Scene 1
  • In his last years

    Faustus uses his magic to trick a horse trader.

    Act 4, Scene 1
  • Soon after

    Faustus make grapes appear in winter for the duke and duchess of Vanholt.

    Act 4, Scene 1
  • As time runs out

    To impress three admiring scholars, Faustus conjures Helen of Troy.

    Act 5, Scene 1
  • Soon after

    An old man tries to convince Faustus to save his soul before it is too late.

    Act 5, Scene 1
  • Soon after

    Faustus rejects the final chance to repent and save his soul and takes Helen of Troy as his lover.

    Act 5, Scene 1
  • Later

    Faustus confesses to the scholars that he is in league with Lucifer and damned both body and soul.

    Act 5, Scene 2
  • His final hour

    Overcome by terror and remorse, Faustus begs Lucifer to spare him and calls on God's mercy.

    Act 5, Scene 2
  • Twelve midnight

    Lucifer's devils come for Faustus and carry him off to hell.

    Act 5, Scene 2

Scene Summaries Chart

Scene Summary
Prologue Introducing the play, the chorus announces that no tale of warfare, romance in a king's court, or heroic deeds will be p... Read More
Act 1, Scene 1 Alone in his study, Faustus contemplates what line of scholarship he will pursue. He has earned a higher degree in theol... Read More
Act 1, Scene 2 Two nosey scholars come looking for Faustus at his residence. Wagner engages them in a bit of verbal sparring before tel... Read More
Act 1, Scene 3 Faustus has sufficiently mastered the art of conjuring to call up a devil one winter's evening. Consulting a book of spe... Read More
Act 1, Scene 4 Wagner engages in some banter with a clown, or peasant, by calling him "boy." Insulted, the fellow asks how many "boys" ... Read More
Act 2, Scene 1 Faustus waits in his study for Mephastophilis's return. He is troubled by doubts about the choice he has made. On the on... Read More
Act 2, Scene 2 Robin, an ostler (a person who works with horses), has stolen one of Doctor Faustus's books of spells and intends to try... Read More
Act 2, Scene 3 Once again, Faustus is wavering in his decision to follow magic, fearing damnation. Mephastophilis declares that the hea... Read More
Act 3, Chorus Assuming the role of the chorus, Wagner explains that Faustus has dedicated himself to the pursuit of limitless knowledg... Read More
Act 3, Scene 1 Doctor Faustus recounts the course of his recent travels with Mephastophilis. He highlights memorable places of beauty o... Read More
Act 3, Scene 2 Robin and Rafe have been using Doctor Faustus's book to do some conjuring. Robin holds up the proof of their success: a ... Read More
Act 4, Chorus The chorus explains that Faustus has enjoyed all he cares to see of the world and has returned to Germany. His friends h... Read More
Act 4, Scene 1 At the court of Carolus the Fifth, the emperor challenges Faustus to prove his celebrated knowledge of conjuring. He pro... Read More
Act 4, Scene 2 The duke and duchess of Vanholt have been enjoying Faustus and Mephastophilis's company. Addressing the duchess, who is ... Read More
Act 5, Scene 1 In a brief soliloquy Wagner expresses concern that his master intends to die soon. Faustus has given him all his possess... Read More
Act 5, Scene 2 Faustus is spending the final evening of his life with the three scholars. They detect something is wrong. Faustus sighs... Read More
Epilogue The chorus confirms that Faustus is in hell. Like the branch of tree that has grown twisted and unhealthy, his twisted, ... Read More
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