In Christopher Marlowe's play, The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus, written around 1590, the protagonist, Doctor Faustus, suffers from what the ancient Greek philosophers and playwrights called hubris—excessive pride. The tragic flaw of hubris proved to be the downfall of many Greek tragic heroes, as it proves to be downfall of Faustus. Everything that Faustus does in the play flows from his excessive pride.
Faustus is a man who possesses extreme intelligence. Faustus has learned everything there is to know about logic, law, science, and theology, and finds the continued pursuit of each of these disciplines unfulfilling and a waste of his time. None of these disciplines sufficiently challenges his intelligence, and he believes that only the dark arts, necromancy and magic, can satisfy his overwhelming desire for knowledge, power, fame, and money.
Faustus engages the services of Valdes and Cornelius to teach him the dark arts, but their knowledge is far too limited to suit Faustus's needs. Faustus believes that he must go beyond earthly knowledge to learn what he wants to know, and he's willing to sell his soul to Lucifer to acquire the knowledge, fame, and fortune that his pride drives him to pursue.
Faustus arrogantly rejects any consequence of his actions, including selling his soul to Lucifer. Speaking of himself, Faustus declares, "This word, 'damnation,' terrifies not him."
Even near the end of the play, when Faustus can still save his soul simply by asking God for forgiveness, his pride won't allow him to save himself from eternal damnation.
Faustus isn't a particularly deep or complex character. Most tragic characters go on a journey of self-discovery, but Faustus simply goes on a journey of debauchery. Whatever noble, redeeming character traits that Faustus possessed when he made the pact with Lucifer simply deteriorate, while his cruelty and cowardice increase. He degrades himself and those around him, conjures up historical figures for his own amusement, and plays practical jokes on the Pope. Faustus travels the world and the cosmos supposedly to acquire knowledge that he can ultimately use for the good of mankind, but he does all of these things for no reason other than to assuage his own immense ego.
Faustus learns very little about himself, the world around him, or the universe in the twenty-four years of his life that he essentially wasted. His seeming regret and despair when he realizes that there is no escape from eternal damnation appears more like self-pity than true repentance or remorse. Faustus lack any sense of self-awareness, and finds it hard to believe or accept that he caused his own downfall.