The Doctor Faustus, Paperback Book
4 out of 5 (1 rating)


In this classic and much-loved edition of Marlowe's best-known play, John D.

Jump provides the reader with a wealth of introductory and explanatory material. As well as a fascinating chronology of Marlowe's life and works and extensive notes on the text, this edition includes a substantial and authoritative historical introduction to the play. An essential text whether studying the play in detail or coming to it for the first time.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 184 pages
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Plays, playscripts
  • ISBN: 9780415039604

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This short but important work seems to pre-figure the more nuanced and complex ethical questions that Shakespeare starts addressing a few years down the line from when this piece was written and performed.The length of the piece makes it easy to analyze, but also leads to a shallowness of meaning. Doctor Faustus, having explored and mastered all the fields of study he knows of, turns to the occult to relieve his boredom. Though constantly advised against it, he summons the demon Mephistopholes and sells his soul to Lucifer in exchange for "four and twenty" years of power.These years are squandered--naturally, perhaps; what is the point of doing anything when you needn't expend any effort doing it? Faustus refuses to repent to God for his sins, and is dragged down to Hell/consumed by demons. End of story. If you don't repent, you're damned, but if you do repent, you're saved. Not quite the multi-layered ethics Hamlet.While the piece might lack in symbolic depth, the language is (in my opinion) very well-crafted, not to mention quotable:Was this the face that launch'd a thousand shipsAnd burnt the topless towers of Ilium?Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss.(I remember one of my high school English teachers reflecting that Faustus must certainly have been lonely to summon an apparition of Helen to accompany him. I must admit, though, that I too would like to see just what was so great about this girl!)Overall, one of the 'classic' Elizabethan plays, it lives up to its reputation and is only rated so because it is overshadowed by other formidable works of the time period.