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Faustus makes his bargain with the devil because he is bored and dissatisfied with the extent of his knowledge. He has studied law, medicine, philosophy, and divinity. He has excelled in all and become famous—but still, he is not contented. He wants to know more. So he seeks out diabolical powers to gain knowledge of magic and a greater understanding of the world and the cosmos. Of course, he is still unsatisfied, as he shows in his conversation about astronomy with Mephistophilis; the devil can only tell him things that even students know. The tragedy of Faustus's bargain is that he never gets the satisfaction and excitement that he wanted. Even with a devil at his beck and call, he resorts to playing tricks on people and behaving in a thoroughly juvenile fashion, because he knows that there is nothing he can do with the power he has that will truly compensate for the loss of his soul. He sought knowledge and stimulation, but found only the mundane and disappointing.

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Doctor Faustus makes his motivation quite clear in his introductory soliloquy, and the insight he gives is confirmed by what the Chorus had said already. The Chorus orients the audience/reader to the play by stating that Faustus earned his academic Doctoral degree in "theology" (religion) only to become overinflated and conceited in his opinion of himself. This leads him to a moral and spiritual downfall in which he aspires to becoming and knowing what is beyond him.

In a Biblical parallel and allusion, Faustus is connected to Lucifer's fall from Heaven: Lucifer aspired to be like God; he aspired to be and know that which was beyond him. The Chorus describes Faustus's similar fall with a classical Greek allusion to Icarus, who, while escaping the Minos, flew on wings made of wax by his father past the Sun. Against his father's warnings, Icarus felt unlimited in his power and, in his arrogance, flew too close to the Sun thus melting his waxen wings and plunging himself to his death. This, by the way, foreshadows the tragic conclusion to Faustus's story: he is not saved at the last minute.

The fruitful plot of scholarism grac'd,
That shortly he was grac'd with doctor's name,
Excelling all whose sweet delight disputes
In heavenly matters of theology;
Till swoln with cunning, of a self-conceit,
His waxen wings did mount above his reach,
And, melting, heavens conspir'd his overthrow;
For, falling to a devilish exercise,
And glutted now with learning's golden gifts,
He surfeits upon cursed necromancy;
Nothing so sweet as magic is to him,

To recap, according to the Chorus, Faustus's motive is arrogance and vanity and "self-conceit" that leads him to aspire to things beyond and "above his reach." In his opening speech, Faustus confirms and elaborates upon this same assertion of motive.

Faust declares that he shall devote the rest of his life not to theology but to necromancy: magic. He declares that he shall command the wind and clouds. He declares that his "dominion" shall stretch as far as the mind can reach, that he shall be all-powerful, or "omnipotent." He is motivated by his desire to be a "mighty god" and "gain a deity." These are objectives that are surely beyond his reach and surely the product of "self-conceit" and arrogance.

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 promis'd ...
All things that move between the quiet poles
Shall be at my command: ...
... can they raise the wind, or rend the clouds;
But his dominion that exceeds in this,
Stretcheth as far as doth the mind of man;
A sound magician is a mighty god:
Here, Faustus, tire thy brains to gain a deity.

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What specifically motivates Faustus to make a satanic compact in Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe?

CHORUS
Excelling all whose sweet delight disputes
In heavenly matters of theology;
Till swoln with cunning, of a self-conceit,
His waxen wings did mount above his reach,
And, melting, heavens conspir'd his overthrow;
For, falling to a devilish exercise,
And glutted now with learning's golden gifts,
He surfeits upon cursed necromancy;  [surfeit: overindulge]
Nothing so sweet as magic is to him,
Which he prefers before his chiefest bliss:
[...]
FAUSTUS
and begin
To sound the depth of that thou wilt profess:
Having commenc'd, be a divine in shew,
Yet level at the end of every art,
And live and die in Aristotle's works.
[...]
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and
there's no truth in us.  Why, then, belike we must sin, and so
consequently die:
Ay, we must die an everlasting death.
What doctrine call you this, Che sera, sera
What will be, shall be?  Divinity, adieu!
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 promis'd to the studious artizan!
All things that move between the quiet poles
Shall be at my command:
[...]
A sound magician is a mighty god:
Here, Faustus, tire thy brains to gain a deity.

The Chorus's Introduction and Doctor Faustus's opening monologue make it quite clear what drives and motivates Faustus to make a satanic compact (an agreement) with the Devil. The Chorus says that his great scholarly accomplishments have made him (1) proud, "swoln with cunning, of a self-conceit." They compare him to Icarus in a Classical allusion to the myth of the son of Daedalus who, while escaping across the cosmos on wings of wax, is overwhelmed by his (2) sense of power and might and flies so close to the Sun that the wings melt causing him to fall to his doom. The Chorus also says that now Faustus is (3) gorging his learning upon magic, "He surfeits upon cursed necromancy" (surfeits: overindulges). The Chorus also says that magic has even (4) replaced "his chiefest bliss," which is an allusion to his Protestant Christian faith ("Of riper years, to Wertenberg he went").

Faustus himself reveals his reasons for his compact with the Devil. He first declares it is time for him to stop his studies, since he has conquered all, and choose what he will "profess," or teach as a Professor. Divinity (religion) was his first study and doctoral degree but (5) the study of divinity is as undesirable now as are analytics, logic, economics and the rest. He casts them off as easily as he casts divinity off: "Che sera, sera / What will be, shall be?  Divinity, adieu!" He declares that in their place, he (6) prefers magic: "necromantic books are heavenly." What Faustus most desires is (7) power and omnipotence: (8) he wants honor and might and profit. These things are what specifically motivates Faustus to make his satanic compact. As he says:

Faustus most desires.
O, what a world of profit and delight,
Of power, of honour, of omnipotence,

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