Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus is perhaps one of the best known tragedies. It definitely differs from a traditional Greek tragedy, as Faustus doesn't have a high birth status (like a king, prince etc.). Moreover, as we know, in a Greek tragedy, though the hero suffers, but everything is brought into restoration by the end. As long as the person is alive, there is an option of repentance and forgiveness of his sins by the God. But Doctor Faustus shows some deviations.
Doctor Faustus can be called as an Elizabethan form of tragedy with elements of Christianity and Renaissance. It drew inspiration but was significantly different from the Aristotelian form of tragedy. In fact, the tragedy plays by the famous playwright William Shakespeare are believed to be an advancement of Marlowe’s genius.
Now, though we understand that Faustus doesn't have a high birth status, he still enjoys respect in the society because of his unmatchable education and intelligence.
Doctor Faustus represents the modern man who is divided between the Christian faith and the Renaissance spirit. Faustus, similar to the heroes of Greek tragedies (Greeks were pioneers of tragedy plays) has one fatal error or tragic flaw (known as Hamartia) that leads to his damnation. It is his hubris or extreme pride (this is considered as the most severe of all seven deadly sins as it gives rise to the other sins). He is guilty of being too proud over his intelligence and achievements. Because of his he commits a series of other mistakes one after the other.
We see that Faustus too finally realizes his mistakes (all tragic heroes meet revelation of their faults) and begs for repentance. But it’s too late by then and he meets damnation. Through his tragic end, he gains the audience’s sympathy and provokes Catharsis. Catharis is atypical of any tragedy. In fact, the most obvious and logical conclusions of the Elizabethan (or, later famously called as the Shakespearean tragedy) is the hero’s death.
Doctor Faustus can be, hence, called as a tragedy play.