Doctor Faustus (Marlowe)

Character List

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Faustus Himself

He sells his soul to the devil

Faustus

A brilliant man, who seems to have reached the limits of natural knowledge. Faustus is a scholar of the early sixteenth century in the German city of Wittenburg. He is arrogant, fiery, and possesses a thirst for knowledge. As an intellectual, Faustus is familiar with things (like demon summoning and astrology) not normally considered academic subjects by today's universities. Faustus decides to sell his soul to the devil in exchange for earthly power and knowledge and an additional 24 years of life. He proceeds to waste this time on self-indulgence and low tricks.

Faustus is the absolute center of the play, which has few truly developed characters.

Mephostophilis

From the Hebrew, mephitz, destroyer, and tophel, liar. A devil of craft and cunning. He is the devil who comes at Faustus' summoning, and the devil who serves Faustus for 24 years. In lore, Mephostophilis (also spelled Mephistopheles, or Miphostophiles, and also called Mephisto) seems to be a relative latecomer in the recognized hierarchy of demons. He possibly was created for the Faustus legend.

In Marlowe's play, Mephostophilis has layers to his personality. He admits that separation from God is anguish, and is capable of fear and pain. But he is gleefully evil, participating at every level in Faustus' destruction. Not only does Mephostophilis get Faustus to sell his soul; he also encourages Faustus to waste his twenty-four years of power.

Wagner

Servant to Faustus. He steals Faustus' books and learns how to summon demons. At the end of the play, he seems concerned about his master's fate.

Good Angel and Evil Angel

Personifications of Faustus' inner turmoil, who give differing advice to him at key points. Their characters also reflect Christian belief that humans are assigned guardian angels, and that devils can influence human thoughts.

Valdes

Friend to Faustus, who teaches him the dark arts. He appears only in Act One.

Cornelius

Friend to Faustus, who teaches him the dark arts. He appears only in Act One.

Lucifer

Satan. "Lucifer" original meant Venus, referring to the planet's brilliance. In Christian lore, Lucifer is sometimes thought to be another name of Satan. Some traditions say that Lucifer was Satan's name before the fall, while the Fathers of the Catholic Church held that Lucifer was not Satan's proper name but a word showing the brilliance and beauty of his station before the fall. He appears at a few choice moments in Doctor Faustus, and Marlowe uses "Lucifer" as Satan's proper name.

Belzebub

One of Lucifer's officers. A powerful demon.

The Seven Deadly Sins

Personifications of the Seven Deadly Sins, not acts but impulses or motivations that lead men to sinful actions. They array themselves in a pageant before Faustus, although scholars think now that this section was not written by Marlowe.

Clown / Robin

Robin learns demon summoning by stealing one of Faustus' books. He is the chief character in a number of scenes that provide comic relief from the main story.

Dick

A friend of Robin's. He is one of the characters peopling the few comic relief scenes.

Rafe

A horse ostler, or groomer, and friend to Robin. With the Clown, he summons Mephostophilis, who is none too pleased to be called.

Vintner

A wine merchant or a wine maker. This Vintner chases down Robin and Rafe after they steal a silver goblet from him.

Carter

A man who meets Faustus while carting hay to town. Faustus swindles him.

Horse-Courser

A man who buys Faustus' horse. Faustus swindles him.

Hostess

An ale wench. She treats Robin and his friends kindly.

The Pope

Yeah, that Pope. In a move that would have pleases his Protestant audience, Marlowe depicts him as cruel, power-mad, and far from holy. Faustus plays some cheap tricks on him.

Bruno

A man who would be Pope, selected by the German emperor and representing the conflicts between Church and state authority.

Raymond

King of Hungary. He serves the Pope.

Charles

The German Emperor. Faustus performs at his court.

Martino

Knight in the court of the German Emperor. Friend to Benvolio and Frederick. When Benvolio seeks revenge against Faustus, Martino decides to help out of loyalty.

Frederick

Knight in the court of the German Emperor. Friend to Martino and Benvolio. When Benvolio seeks revenge against Faustus, Frederick decides to help out of loyalty.

Benvolio

Knight in the court of the German Emperor. Friend to Martino and Frederick. When Faustus humiliates him, he seeks revenge.

Saxony

A man attending at the court of the German Emperor.

Duke of Vanholt

A nobleman. Faustus performs illusions at his court.

Duchess of Vanholt

A noblewoman. Faustus fetches her grapes in January.

Spirits in the shapes of Alexander the Great, Darius, Paramour, and Helen

Faustus' illusions.

An Old Man

A holy old man. He tries to save Faustus by getting him to repent, and for his good deed, Faustus initially thanks him. But later, Faustus sends devils to harm the Old Man.