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According to the eNotes page detailing the themes of Marlowe's "Doctor Faustus," the theme of the work regarding success and failure is as such:
Faustus's experiences illustrate the maxim: be careful what you wish for—you just might get it. He successfully obtains his desires. Ironically, however, his power over the devils and material world leaves him unfulfilled and empty. His material success fails to make him happy, and his pact with the devil makes spiritual happiness impossible. His is an empty success, based on actions which are selfish and immature.
Based upon this, the power one gains, when undeserved, tends to leave one feeling unsatisfied (given the power was not obtained truthfully or righteously). When one gains this type of power they tend to abuse it and not use it for betterment of self or society. This person also tries to find happiness and fails, based upon their prior misdoings/bad judgements. If these behaviors go unchecked, the person continues to make decisions to gain more power in their search for happiness.
Outside of that, application to society today, when power is gained illegitimately, the same things can happen to the person who obtains the power as it does to Faustus. If people gain power which is undeserved, then the power may go to their heads. If this happens, they typically believe things are due to them which are not. If this happens in society, too many people may come to believe that only they matter. Then, the desire to look out for others diminishes. Our would would become a place ruled by the desire of the few and not the needs of the many.
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