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, 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, friends of Faustus for whom he produces the apparition of Helen and to whom he makes his confession just before his death.
The Pope, a victim of Faustus’ playful trickery.
The Cardinal of Lorrain
The Cardinal of Lorrain, an attendant to the pope.
Charles V, the emperor of Germany. Faustus and Mephistophilis entertain him with magical tricks.
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, the victim of Robin’s and Ralph’s pranks.
A Horse Courser
A Horse Courser, a trader deceived and abused by Faustus.
A Clown, the gullible victim of Wagner’s conjuring.
Belcher, evil spirits raised by Wagner to terrify the Clown.
Lechery, the Seven Deadly Sins, who appear in a pageant for Faustus.
The Chorus, who serves as prologue, commentator, and epilogue to the play.