Discuss Faustus's character-take into account his accomplishments, hopes and dreams as well as his flaws.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The character of Dr. John Faustus in the play Dr. Faustus, by Christopher Marlowe, is a man whose accomplishments and intelligence are used for all the wrong purposes.

An ambitious man, Dr. Faustus begins his story by admiring his achievements in the field of medicine, and many other fields, for he is the epitome of the Renaissance man: The do-it all hero.

A greater subject fitteth Faustus' wit:
Bid Oncaymaeon farewell, Galen come,
Seeing, Ubi desinit Philosophus, ibi incipit Medicus:
Be a physician, Faustus; heap up gold,
And be eternised for some wondrous cure.

Here we see how Faustus is completely aware of his own talent. Yet, he does not have enough. He wants more and feels the hunger of becoming somewhat of a demigod.

When Faustus decides to give himself to the devil for 24 years of total power, he wastes it away by becoming fixated with magic and metaphysics.

These metaphysics of magicians
And necromantic books are heavenly: Lines, circles, scenes, letters, and characters:
Ay, these are those that Faustus most desires.
O, what a world of profit and delight,
Of power, of honour, of omnipotence,
Is promised to the studious artisan!

Along his sad journey, Faustus demonstrates his lack of social skills, his incompatibility with people, and his haughtiness. He becomes quite the loner, and ends up basically with nothing. He is the epitome of what a badly-driven ambition does for a person. It all becomes a big waste at the very end.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial