Dr Faustus

Christopher Marlowe

A B1 Level Presentation


Please note that while we strive to provide comprehensive and insightful content, the article you are about to read is written at a B1 level of English. It is intended for students at the terza liceo level or those seeking introductory information on the play "Doctor Faustus" by Christopher Marlowe.

This article offers a simplified overview of various aspects of "Doctor Faustus," including its title page, title explanation, sources of inspiration, genre, structure and plot, characters, narrative techniques, and themes. It is designed to assist readers in understanding and analyzing the main work, but it may not delve deeply into advanced literary analysis or critical interpretations.

If you are seeking more advanced material or scholarly insights into "Doctor Faustus," we recommend consulting academic journals, literary criticism, or other authoritative sources for a more comprehensive understanding of the play.

Thank you for your understanding, and we hope you find the information provided helpful in your exploration of "Doctor Faustus."

Welcome to the captivating world of Christopher Marlowe's "Doctor Faustus," a timeless masterpiece that explores the depths of human ambition, temptation, and the consequences of one's choices. Get set to explore: 

  1. The Title Page
  2. The Explanation of the Title
  3. Sources of Inspiration
  4. Genre Analysis
  5. Structure and Plot
  6. Character Exploration
  7. Narrative Techniques
  8. Themes

Title Page

The title page is the first page of a book that has important information like the title, author's name, and publisher. In older books like "The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus," it gives all this information in one place. It tells us that the play is a tragedy about a character named Doctor Faustus, written by Christopher Marlowe, and published by George Eld for John Wright in 1604.

Title Explanation

The title "The Tragicall History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus" gives insight into the essence of Christopher Marlowe's play. The inclusion of "Tragical" hints at the serious and deeply emotional nature of the narrative, suggesting a journey filled with challenges and leading to a tragic conclusion. By using the term "History," Marlowe indicates that the play delves into the life and experiences of the central character, Faustus. Additionally, the inclusion of "Doctor" before Faustus's name displays his scholarly background and expertise, highlighting Faustus's intellectual prowess and respected status within the academic community. Moreover, the specific mention of "the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus" emphasizes the focus on Faustus's struggles, choices, and ultimate fate.

Sources of Inspiration

Christopher Marlowe derived inspiration for "Doctor Faustus" from the renowned German legend of Faust, a scholarly figure who enters into a pact with the devil in exchange for unparalleled knowledge and authority. Marlowe's adaptation of this timeless narrative delves into profound themes such as ambition, temptation, and the moral ramifications of sinful deeds.


"Doctor Faustus" is an Elizabethan tragedy, a form of theatrical production prevalent during the Renaissance era. In this type of play, the central character experiences profound suffering, often as a consequence of personal flaws or external influences beyond their control. Additionally, "Doctor Faustus" incorporates elements characteristic of morality plays, a genre aimed at imparting moral lessons about ethical conduct and the consequences of one's actions.

Structure and Plot

The play follows the story of Faustus, a scholar who makes a deal with the devil for power and knowledge. It's divided into five acts, each showing different parts of Faustus's journey. Here's a brief summary of each act:

  • Faustus makes a pact with the devil, agreeing to give up his soul for 24 years of power and knowledge.
  • Faustus explores his new abilities and enjoys worldly pleasures but starts feeling guilty.
  • Faustus struggles with his decision but refuses to repent, sealing his fate.
  • Faustus faces the consequences of his pact as his time runs out.
  • Faustus realizes he's doomed and is dragged to hell by the devil.


The main characters are Doctor Faustus, who is a brilliant scholar tempted by the devil, and Mephistopheles, the devil's servant who tempts Faustus. Other characters include Wagner, Faustus's servant, and allegorical figures like the Good Angel and the Bad Angel, who represent good and evil.

Narrative Techniques

Marlowe employs various narrative techniques to enhance the story's depth and engagement. These include:

  • Dramatic irony: This occurs when the audience knows something that the characters do not, adding tension and suspense to the plot.
  • Symbolism: Objects or ideas represent deeper meanings, enriching the themes and messages of the play.
  • Use of Latin phrases: Marlowe incorporates Latin phrases to reflect the protagonist's scholarly background and societal status.
  • Blank verse: The play is written in blank verse, which is unrhymed poetry with a rhythmic structure, contributing to its poetic quality and flow.
  • Alliteration and caesuras: Marlowe utilizes these literary devices to create rhythm and emphasis within the dialogue.
  • Mythological and satanic references: By including references to ancient myths and satanic stories, Marlowe adds layers of meaning to Faustus' decisions and actions, enriching the thematic complexity of the play.


The play explores themes like the pursuit of knowledge and power, the perils of temptation, and the consequences of one's actions. It also looks at concepts like hubris (excessive pride), the eternal struggle between good and evil, free will vs. fate, and the supernatural.

Explore the  Interactive Biography Chart  to gather important details about Christopher Marlowe. Look up information in your textbook or visit:  - https://www.bl.uk/research/ 

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Christopher-Marlowe  for additional resources.

Fill in the chart with basic info like Marlowe's full name, when he was born and passed away, where he studied, and events that influenced his writing.

When you get to his literary production, start with the main work you're studying. Write down the full title, say what kind of story it is, and give a brief synthesis. Do the same for his other important works. If you're stuck or need help, there's a list of useful expressions available. These expressions can be used as sentences to help you express your ideas more effectively. Your finished chart, along with the list of expressions, will be a handy guide for talking or writing about Christopher Marlowe.

You can consult a bio chart that has already been filled out below:

Explore the accompanying vocabulary list to enhance your understanding of the literary elements discussed in this presentation.


Marlowe, Christopher. "Dr. Faustus." 1604.

Snyder, Susan. "The Comic Matrix of Shakespeare's Tragedies: Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Othello, and King Lear." Princeton University Press, 1979.

Bevington, David. "The Complete Works of Christopher Marlowe." Cambridge University Press, 1998.

Bloom, Harold. "Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus: A Casebook." Oxford University Press, 2006.

Demetriou, Mikaella. "Doctor Faustus: A Critical Guide." Continuum Press, 2010

Loehlin, James N. The Shakespeare Handbooks: Shakespeare's Contemporaries: Marlowe: Doctor Faustus: A Guide to the Text and the Play in Performance, 2016.

Greenblatt, Stephen. "The Norton Anthology of English Literature." W.W. Norton & Company, 2018.

Pancritius, Teresa Rebecca. "'Tis Marlowe, Marlowe that hath ravished me." Christopher Marlowe's Fictional Afterlives. Inaugural-Dissertation zur Erlangung des Doktorgrades der Philosophie an der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, 2023. 

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