Study Guide

Doctor Faustus

by Christopher Marlowe

Doctor Faustus Characters

Characters Discussed (Great Characters in Literature)

Faustus

Faustus (FOWS-tuhs), a learned scholar and theologian. Ambitious for boundless knowledge, he abandons the accepted professions for black magic and sells his soul for knowledge and power. Although haunted by remorse, he is unrepentant. After he gains power, his character deteriorates, and he adds cruelty to cowardice in asking tortures for an old man who tries to save his soul. He shows a final flash of nobility in sending his friends away before the expected arrival of the devils, and he delivers a poignant soliloquy while awaiting his death and damnation.

Mephistophilis

Mephistophilis (mehf-ih-STOF-ih-lihs), a tormented devil aware of the horror of being an outcast from the sight of God. He speaks frankly to Faustus before the signing of the bond; after that, he is not concerned with fair play, being sometimes tricky and sometimes savage. At the appointed time, he carries Faustus off to Hell.

Lucifer

Lucifer (LEW-sih-fur), the commander of the fallen spirits. Eager for human souls to join him in misery, he puts forth great efforts to keep Faustus from escaping by repentance.

Belzebub

Belzebub (BEHL-zee-buhb), the third evil spirit of the perverted trinity.

An Old Man

An Old Man, a godly elder concerned with saving Faustus’ soul. Rejected by Faustus and made the physical prey of devils, he escapes them and rises to God by means of his great faith.

Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great,

Alexander’s paramour

Alexander’s paramour, and

Helen of Troy

Helen of Troy, spirits raised by Mephistophilis and Faustus. The beauty of Helen, “the face that launched a thousand ships,” further entangles Faustus in evil and confirms his damnation.

Valdes

Valdes (VAHL-days) and

Cornelius

Cornelius, learned magicians to whom Faustus turns for counsel when he decides to engage in black magic.

Wagner

Wagner, the comical and impudent servant of Faustus. He follows his master in conjuring and furnishes a ridiculous contrast to the tragic Faustus.

Three Scholars

Three Scholars, friends of Faustus for whom he produces the apparition of Helen and to whom he makes his confession just before his death.

The Pope

The Pope, a victim of Faustus’ playful trickery.

The Cardinal of Lorrain

The Cardinal of Lorrain, an attendant to the pope.

Charles V

Charles V, the emperor of Germany. Faustus and Mephistophilis entertain him with magical tricks.

A Knight

A Knight, a scornful skeptic whom Faustus abuses and infuriates by making stag horns grow on his head. He is restored to his normal state at the request of the emperor.

The Duke of Vanholt

The Duke of Vanholt and

the Duchess of Vanholt

the Duchess of Vanholt, patrons of Faustus whom he gratefully entertains.

The Good Angel

The Good Angel and

the Evil Angel

the Evil Angel, who contend for Faustus’ soul, each urging him to choose his way of life.

Robin

Robin, an ostler, and

Ralph

Ralph, a servingman, comical characters who find Faustus’ books and raise Mephistophilis, to their great terror.

A Vintner

A Vintner, the victim of Robin’s and Ralph’s pranks.

A Horse Courser

A Horse Courser, a trader deceived and abused by Faustus.

A Clown

A Clown, the gullible victim of Wagner’s conjuring.

Baliol

Baliol and

Belcher

Belcher, evil spirits raised by Wagner to terrify the Clown.

Pride

Pride,

Covetousness

Covetousness,

Wrath

Wrath,

Envy

Envy,

Gluttony

Gluttony,

Sloth

Sloth, and

Lechery

Lechery, the Seven Deadly Sins, who appear in a pageant for Faustus.

The Chorus

The Chorus, who serves as prologue, commentator, and epilogue to the play.

Doctor Faustus Character Analysis

Benvolio, Frederick, and Martino

When Faustus arrives at the court of Emperor Charles V to display his magic, Benvolio, a knight, seems too hungover to witness the...

(The entire section is 197 words.)

Dr. John Faustus

A Wittenberg scholar who sells his soul to the devil in exchange for twenty-four years of power. The Faust myth originates in the story of a...

(The entire section is 152 words.)

Other Characters

Archbishop of Rhelms
When an invisible Faustus creates a stir at Pope Adrian's banquet, all present wonder about the cause. The...

(The entire section is 1304 words.)