Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus

Lisa Hopkins (Sheffield Hallam University)
Download PDF Add to Bookshelf Report an Error
Doctor Faustus

 is at once one of the most impressive and one of the most frustrating of Elizabethan plays. It has come down to us in two texts, the 1604 ‘A’ text and the 1616 ‘B’ text, both of which show clear signs of a hand or hands other than Marlowe’s. We cannot, therefore, ever feel confident that what we read is the text as Marlowe left it or as he would have wished us to have it.

However, even though the details are murky, the overall design of the play seems clear. Doctor Faustus, an eminent Wittenberg scholar, is bored by all the academic disciplines and branches of knowledge which he has mastered with such ease, and decides to sell his soul to the devil in exchange for twenty-four years of unlimited power and knowledge. He explains his decision in the soliloquy which

1710 words

Citation: Hopkins, Lisa. "Doctor Faustus". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 08 January 2001; last revised 01 March 2021. [, accessed 26 May 2024.]

5519 Doctor Faustus 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

Save this article

If you need to create a new bookshelf to save this article in, please make sure that you are logged in, then go to your 'Account' here

Leave Feedback

The Literary Encyclopedia is a living community of scholars. We welcome comments which will help us improve.