What is an overview of the title character from "Dr Faustus"?

Expert Answers
sullymonster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Faustus the character is what is known as a tragic hero.  Although he is intelligent and thoughtful, his overwhelming ambition is what causes him to make a decision that leads to his own failure.  Faustus dreams of using his God-given powers to be a magician and to gather wealth from all over the world.  He is a Renaissance hero in the sense that he has given up the idea of a God-centered universe in order to seek out his own individual needs and the world of forbidden knowledge.  All of this leads him to make his pact.  He agrees to “sell his soul” for his wealth and power, and uses his own doubts about God/hell to try to convince himself that his damnation isn’t going to be real.  Marlowe uses Faustus not only to show the negative side of ambition, but also to show the uselessness of the type of power that Faustus seeks out.  Once he has power, he doesn’t know what to do with it.  It’s a sort of “grass is greener” message.  It seems like a great idea, but once Faustus has it, he doesn’t want it.  He wastes his power and his time until the last moment, when he desperately tries to repent, but fails and remains the perfect form of the tragic hero.