Analyze the themes of knowledge, Christianity, power, and the elements of tragedy in Doctor Faustus.  

Knowledge, Christianity, and power are some of the main themes of Marlowe's play Doctor Faustus, and it often considered a morality play. Given the trajectory of its main character, the play could also be classified as a tragedy.

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Doctor Faustus (full title: The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus) is a Renaissance tragedy written by English playwright and poet Christopher Marlowe. It tells the story of one regular man—a scholar by the name of Faustus and, as the full title suggests, his tragic life and death. Marlowe's intention when writing the play was to showcase the readers that all people, regardless of social status, age, gender or any other social category, are just that—people, or human beings that are curious, weak, thirsty for knowledge and power, prone to making mistakes and often tempted to sin.

Thus, knowledge and curiosity, Christianity and the meaning of sin and redemption, as well as ambition and power are some of the main thematic representations of the drama.


Faustus is an ambitious man; he's certainly educated and learned, however, he yearns to know all of the things that schools and books can't teach. He wants to know more so that he can use that knowledge to make himself wealthy and powerful. He turns to dark magic and the Devil's wicked ways in the hopes of becoming the most knowledgeable man; however, he fails to recognize that there are limits to everything. Having the desire to learn and gain knowledge is certainly admirable, but knowing too much is not something one should strive for. Moderation is the key to everything, and (blind) ambition might seem like a good trait to have, however, it often prevents people from seeing and understanding their environment and their reality.


One of the main themes in Doctor Faustus is the exploration of the concepts of sin and redemption, as well as salvation and damnation, and the existence of dualism in Christianity—good (God) and evil (Satan) as the two main opposing forces in the universe. Faustus ponders about fate, heaven and hell and the complexity of one's soul, and he is torn. On one hand, he wishes to be a good and graceful man—moral, ethical and compassionate, a man worthy of God's grace. On the other hand, he wishes to possess the infinite power and knowledge that Lucifer promises.

Faustus commits the ultimate sin—he rejects the grace of God and chooses to follow the Devil's path instead. In the end, he's aware of his mistakes and even asks for forgiveness and redemption for all of his sins and wrongdoings; unfortunately, it is too late and his soul is condemned to eternal damnation.


Faustus desires great power; he wishes to be powerful and unstoppable. The Devil grants him his wish and, instead of trying to transform all of his grand plans and ideas into reality and to uncover the greatest secrets of the universe, Faustus is overwhelmed and doesn't know what to do with all the power he now possesses; one could even argue that he's lost and no longer capable of seeing the bigger picture or the reality of the situation. He becomes ignorant and loses his ambition, drive and passionate spirit; he sacrifices his soul and his morality to gain unimaginable power that he most certainly cannot handle.

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