Doctor Faustus Characters

Doctor Faustus key characters:

  • In Doctor Faustus, Dr. John Faustus sells his soul to the devil in return for twenty-four years of power. He represents the overachieving Renaissance individualist.

  • Benvolio, Frederick, and Martino attempt to kill Faustus after he conjures up horns that grow out of Benvolio’s head. They are punished by the devils and sprout horns on their heads.

  • Mephistopheles is the devil who initially debates with Faustus and carries out his wishes.

  • Charles V is Emperor of Germany. He asks Faustus to prove his powers by conjuring up Alexander the Great.

  • The horse-courser buys Faustus’ horse but rides it through water against Faustus’ advice and turns it into straw. Faustus then plays a trick on him by having the horse-courser rip his leg off when he goes to wake him.

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)


Faustus (FOWS-tuhs), a learned scholar and theologian. Ambitious for boundless knowledge, he abandons the accepted professions for black magic and sells his soul for knowledge and power. Although haunted by remorse, he is unrepentant. After he gains power, his character deteriorates, and he adds cruelty to cowardice in asking tortures for an old man who tries to save his soul. He shows a final flash of nobility in sending his friends away before the expected arrival of the devils, and he delivers a poignant soliloquy while awaiting his death and damnation.


Mephistophilis (mehf-ih-STOF-ih-lihs), a tormented devil aware of the horror of being an outcast from the sight of God. He speaks frankly to Faustus before the signing of the bond; after that, he is not concerned with fair play, being sometimes tricky and sometimes savage. At the appointed time, he carries Faustus off to Hell.


Lucifer (LEW-sih-fur), the commander of the fallen spirits. Eager for human souls to join him in misery, he puts forth great efforts to keep Faustus from escaping by repentance.


Belzebub (BEHL-zee-buhb), the third evil spirit of the perverted trinity.

An Old Man

An Old Man, a godly elder concerned with saving Faustus’ soul. Rejected by Faustus and made the physical prey of devils, he escapes them and rises to God by means of his great faith.

Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great,

Alexander’s paramour

Alexander’s paramour, and

Helen of Troy

Helen of Troy, spirits raised by Mephistophilis and Faustus. The beauty of Helen, “the face that launched a thousand ships,” further entangles Faustus in evil and confirms his damnation.


Valdes (VAHL-days) and


Cornelius, learned magicians to whom Faustus turns for counsel when he decides to engage in black magic.


Wagner, the comical and impudent servant of Faustus. He follows his master in conjuring and furnishes a ridiculous contrast to the tragic Faustus.

Three Scholars

Three Scholars, friends of Faustus for whom he produces the apparition of Helen and to whom he makes his confession just before his death.

The Pope

The Pope, a victim of Faustus’ playful trickery.

The Cardinal of Lorrain

The Cardinal of Lorrain, an attendant to the pope.

Charles V

Charles V, the emperor of Germany. Faustus and Mephistophilis entertain him with magical tricks.

A Knight

A Knight, a scornful skeptic whom Faustus abuses and infuriates by making stag horns grow on his head. He is restored to his normal state at the request of the emperor.

The Duke of Vanholt

The Duke of Vanholt and

the Duchess of Vanholt

the Duchess of Vanholt, patrons of Faustus whom he gratefully entertains.

The Good Angel

The Good Angel and

the Evil Angel

the Evil Angel, who contend for Faustus’ soul, each urging him to choose his way of life.


Robin, an ostler, and


Ralph, a servingman, comical characters who find Faustus’ books and raise Mephistophilis, to their great terror.

A Vintner

A Vintner, the victim of Robin’s and Ralph’s pranks.

A Horse Courser

A Horse Courser, a trader deceived and abused by Faustus.

A Clown

A Clown, the gullible victim of Wagner’s conjuring.


Baliol and


Belcher, evil spirits raised by Wagner to terrify the Clown.












Sloth, and


Lechery, the Seven Deadly Sins, who appear in a pageant for Faustus.

The Chorus

The Chorus, who serves as prologue, commentator, and epilogue to the play.