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The Tragical History of
Dr. Faustus

by Christopher Marlowe
The original, squashed down to read (or perform) in about 30 minutes

(London, c1592)

Marlowe was almost as popular a playwright in his day as his contemporary Shakespeare. He may have acted as a spy, could have been homosexual, was once brought before the courts for some, now forgotten, offence, and was stabbed to death, possibly in an argument over a bar bill. His bringing-to-life of the old story of Faustus' pact with the devil was sufficiently shocking for him to have been accused of actual necromancy.

Abridged by: JH

The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus

Persons in the Play
WAGNER, his servant
BENVOLIO, MARTINO, FREDERICK, gentlemen of the emperor's court

Act I
Scene I.-FAUSTUS in his study, reading a volume on necromancy

FAUSTUS: All things that move between the quiet poles
Shall be at my command: emperors and kings
Are but obeyed in their several provinces;
But his dominion that excels in this
Stretches as far as does the mind of man.
A sound magician is a demi-god.

    [Enter GOOD and EVIL ANGELS.

GOOD ANGEL: O Faustus, lay that damned book aside
And gaze not on it, lest it tempt thy soul,
And heap God's heavy wrath upon thy head!
Read, read the Scriptures-that is blasphemy.

EVIL ANGEL: Go forward, Faustus, in that famous art
Wherein all nature's treasure is contained;
Be thou on earth as Jove is in the sky,
Lord and commander of these elements.

    [Exeunt ANGELS.

FAUSTUS: How am I glutted with conceit of this!
Faustus, begin thine incantations,
And try if devils will obey thy hest.

    [Thunder. FAUSTUS pronounces the incantation. Enter MEPHISTOPHILIS.

MEPHISTOPHILIS: Now, Faustus, what wouldst thou have me do?

FAUSTUS: I charge thee, wait upon me while I live,
To do whatever Faustus shall command.

MEPHISTOPHILIS: I am a servant to great Lucifer,
And may not follow thee without his leave.

FAUSTUS: Tell me, what is that Lucifer, thy lord?

MEPHISTOPHILIS: Arch-regent and commander of all spirits.

FAUSTUS: Was not that Lucifer an angel once?

MEPHISTOPHILIS: Yes, Faustus, and most dearly loved of God.

FAUSTUS: How comes it, then, that he is prince of devils?

MEPHISTOPHILIS: Oh, by aspiring pride and insolence,
For which God threw him out from the face of heaven.

FAUSTUS: And what are you that live with Lucifer?

MEPHISTOPHILIS: Unhappy spirits that fell with Lucifer,
Conspired against our God with Lucifer,
And are forever damned with Lucifer.

FAUSTUS: Where are you damned?


FAUSTUS: How comes it, then, that you are out of hell?

MEPHISTOPHILIS: Why, this is hell, nor am I out of it.
Think'st thou that I, that saw the face of God,
And tasted the eternal joys of heaven,
Am not tormented with ten thousand hells
In being deprived of everlasting bliss?

FAUSTUS: Go, bear these tidings to great Lucifer:
Seeing Faustus hath incurred eternal death
By desperate thoughts against God's deity,
Say he surrenders up to him his soul,
So he will spare him four-and-twenty years,
Having thee ever to attend on me.
Then meet me in my study at midnight,
And then resolve me of thy master's mind.

Scene II.-The same. Midnight. FAUSTUS. Enter MEPHISTOPHILIS.

FAUSTUS: Now tell me what saith Lucifer, thy lord?

MEPHISTOPHILIS: That I shall wait on Faustus while he lives,
So he will buy my service with his soul,
And write a deed of gift with his own blood.

    [FAUSTUS stabs his own arm, and writes. At the summons of MEPHISTOPHILIS enter Devils, who present FAUSTUS with crowns and rich apparel. Exeunt Devils. FAUSTUS reads the deed, by which MEPHISTOPHILIS is to be at his service for twenty-four years, at the end of which LUCIFER may claim his soul.

MEPHISTOPHILIS: Now, Faustus, ask me what thou wilt.

FAUSTUS: Tell me where is the place that men call hell?

MEPHISTOPHILIS: Hell hath no limits, nor is circumscribed
In one self place; but where we are is hell,
And where hell is, there must we ever be;
And, to be short, when all the world dissolves,
And every creature shall be purified,
All places shall be hell that are not heaven.

FAUSTUS: I think hell's a fable.

MEPHISTOPHILIS: Aye, think so still, till experience change thy mind.


FAUSTUS: If heaven was made for man, 'twas made for me.
I will renounce this magic and repent.

    [Enter the GOOD and EVIL ANGELS.

GOOD ANGEL: Faustus, repent! Yet God will pity thee.

EVIL ANGEL: Thou art a spirit; God cannot pity thee.

FAUSTUS: My heart is hardened; I cannot repent.

EVIL ANGEL: Too late.

GOOD ANGEL: Never too late, if Faustus will repent.

    [Exeunt ANGELS.

FAUSTUS: O Christ, my Saviour, my Saviour,
Help to save distresséd Faustus' soul.

    [Enter LUCIFER.

LUCIFER: Christ cannot save thy soul, for He is just;
Thou call'st on Christ, contrary to thy promise;
Thou shouldst not think on God; think on the Devil.

FAUSTUS: Nor will Faustus henceforth; pardon him for this,
And Faustus vows never to look to Heaven.

Act II
Scene I.-Rome. Enter CHORUS.

CHORUS: Learned Faustus,
To find the secrets of astronomy
Graven in the book of Jove's high firmament,
Did mount him up to scale Olympus' top;
Where, sitting in a chariot burning bright,
Drawn by the strength of yokéd dragons' necks,
He views the clouds, the planets, and the stars.
From east to west his dragons swiftly glide,
And in eight days did bring him home again.
Now, mounted new upon a dragon's back,
He, as I guess, will first arrive at Rome
To see the Pope and manner of his court,
And take some part of holy Peter's feast,
The which this day is highly solemnised.


FAUSTUS: Hast thou, as erst I did command,
Conducted me within the walls of Rome?

MEPHISTOPHILIS: This is the goodly palace of the Pope.

FAUSTUS: Sweet Mephistophilis, thou pleasest me.
Whilst I am here on earth, let me be cloy'd
With all things that delight the heart of man.
My four-and-twenty years of liberty
I'll spend in pleasure and in dalliance.
Now in this show let me an actor be,
That this proud Pope may Faustus' cunning see.

    [Enter POPE and others in procession; BRUNO, nominated pope in opposition by the EMPEROR, in chains. FAUSTUS and MEPHISTOPHILIS, impersonating two cardinals, are given charge of the condemned BRUNO, whom they liberate and dispatch magically to the EMPEROR. Subsequently, both being rendered invisible, they amuse themselves at the expense of the POPE and his guests at a banquet; and then depart to the EMPEROR'S court.

Scene II.-Before the EMPEROR'S palace.
BENVOLIO at a window. Enter the EMPEROR with his train, including FAUSTUS, MEPHISTOPHILIS, BRUNO.

EMPEROR: Wonder of men, renowned magician,
Thrice-learned Faustus, welcome to our court.
Now, Faustus, as thou late didst promise us,
We would behold that famous conqueror,
Great Alexander, and his paramour,
In their true shapes and state majestical.

FAUSTUS: Your majesty shall see them presently.

BENVOLIO: Aye, aye, and thou bring Alexander and
his paramour before the emperor, I'll be Actæon
and turn myself to a stag.

FAUSTUS: And I'll be Diana and send you the horns presently.

    [Enter a pageant of Darius, Alexander, etc., being phantoms. Exeunt.

FAUSTUS: See, see, my gracious lord!

EMPEROR: Oh, wondrous sight!
Two spreading horns, most strangely fastened
Upon the head of young Benvolio!

BENVOLIO: Zounds, doctor, this is your villainy.

FAUSTUS: Oh, say not so, sir; the doctor has no skill
To bring before the royal emperor
The mighty monarch, warlike Alexander.
If Faustus do it, you are straight resolved
In bold Actæon's shape to turn a stag.
And therefore, my lord, so please your majesty,
I'll raise a kennel of hounds shall hunt him so-
Ho, Belimoth, Argison, Asteroth!

BENVOLIO: Hold, hold! Good my lord, entreat for
me! 'Sblood, I am never able to endure these torments.

EMPEROR: Let me entreat you to remove his horns;
He hath done penance now sufficiently.

FAUSTUS: Being that to delight your majesty with
mirth is all that I desire, I am content to remove
his horns (MEPHISTOPHILIS removes them), and
hereafter, sir, look you speak well of scholars.


MARTINO: Nay, sweet Benvolio, let us sway thy thoughts
From this attempt against the conjurer.

BENVOLIO: Away! You love me not, to urge me thus.
Shall I let slip so great an injury,
When every servile groom jests at my wrongs,
And in their rustic gambols proudly say,
"Benvolio's head was graced with horns to-day?"
If you will aid me in this enterprise,
Then draw your weapons and be resolute.
If not, depart; here will Benvolio die,
But Faustus' death shall quit my infamy.

FREDERICK: Nay, we will stay with thee, betide what may,
And kill that doctor, if he comes this way.
Close, close! The conjurer is at hand,
And all alone comes walking in his gown.
Be ready, then, and strike the peasant down.

BENVOLIO: Mine be that honour, then. Now, sword, strike home!
For horns he gave, I'll have his head anon!

    [Enter FAUSTUS.

No words; this blow ends all.
Hell take his soul! His body thus must fall.

    [BENVOLIO stabs FAUSTUS, who falls; BENVOLIO cuts off his head.

FREDERICK: Was this that stern aspect, that awful frown
Made the grim monarchs of infernal spirits
Tremble and quake at his commanding charms?

MARTINO: Was this that damnéd head, whose art conspired
Benvolio's shame before the emperor?

BENVOLIO: Aye, that's the head, and there the body lies.
Justly rewarded for his villainies.
    [FAUSTUS rises.
Zounds, the devil's alive again!

FREDERICK: Give him his head, for God's sake!

FAUSTUS: Nay, keep it; Faustus will have heads and hands,
Aye, all your hearts, to recompense this deed.
Then, wherefore do I dally my revenge?
Asteroth! Belimoth! Mephistophilis!

    [Enter MEPHISTOPHILIS, and other Devils.

Go, horse these traitors on your fiery backs,
And mount aloft with them as high as Heaven;
Thence pitch them headlong to the lowest hell.
Yet stay, the world shall see their misery,
And hell shall after plague their treachery.
Go, Belimoth, and take this caitiff hence,
And hurl him in some lake of mud and dirt;
Take thou this other, drag him through the woods,
Amongst the pricking thorns and sharpest briars;
Whilst with my gentle Mephistophilis
This traitor flies unto some steepy rock
That rolling down may break the villain's bones.
Fly hence! Dispatch my charge immediately!

FREDERICK: He must needs go, that the devil drives.

    [Exeunt Devils with their victims.


Scene I.-FAUSTUS' study. Enter WAGNER.

WAGNER: I think my master means to die shortly.
He has made his will, and given me his wealth, his
house, his goods, and store of golden plate, besides two
thousand ducats ready coined. I wonder what he means?
If death were nigh, he would not frolic thus. He's now
at supper with the scholars, where there's such cheer as
Wagner in his life ne'er saw the like. Here he comes;
belike the feast is ended.

    [Exit. Enter FAUSTUS; MEPHISTOPHILIS follows.

FAUSTUS: Accursed Faustus! Wretch, what hast thou done?
I do repent, and yet I do despair.
Hell strives with grace for conquest in my breast;
What shall I do to shun the snares of death?

MEPHISTOPHILIS: Thou traitor, Faustus, I arrest thy soul
For disobedience to my sovereign lord!
Revolt, or I'll in piecemeal tear thy flesh!

FAUSTUS: I do repent I e'er offended him!
Sweet Mephistophilis, entreat thy lord
To pardon my unjust presumption;
And with my blood again I will confirm
The former vow I made to Lucifer.

MEPHISTOPHILIS: Do it, then, Faustus, with unfeignéd heart,
Lest greater dangers do attend thy drift.

FAUSTUS: One thing, good servant, let me crave of thee:
Bring that fair Helen, whose admiréd worth
Made Greece with ten years' war afflict poor Troy;
Whose sweet embraces may extinguish clean
Those thoughts that do dissuade me from my vow,
And keep my oath I made to Lucifer.

MEPHISTOPHILIS: This, or what else my Faustus may desire,
Shall be performed in twinkling of an eye.

    [Enter Helen, passing over the stage between two cupids.

FAUSTUS: Was this the face that launched a thousand ships
And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?
Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss!

    [Kisses her.

Her lips suck forth my soul; see where it flies!
Come, Helen, come, give me my soul again!
Oh, thou art fairer than the evening air
Clad in the beauty of a thousand stars:
Brighter art thou than naming Jupiter,
When he appeared to hapless Semele:
More lovely than the monarch of the sky,
In wanton Arethusa's azured arms!
Here will I dwell, for heaven is in these lips,
And all is dross that is not Helena.

Scene II.-The same. FAUSTUS. Enter SCHOLARS

FIRST SCHOLAR: Worthy Faustus, methinks your looks are changed!

FAUSTUS: Oh, gentlemen!

SECOND SCHOLAR: What ails Faustus?

FAUSTUS: Ah, my sweet chamber-fellow, had I lived with thee, then I had lived still; but now must die eternally! Look, sirs; comes he not? Comes he not?

FIRST SCHOLAR: O my dear Faustus, what imports this fear?

THIRD SCHOLAR: 'Tis but a surfeit, sir; fear nothing.

FAUSTUS: A surfeit of deadly sin, that hath damned both body and soul.

SECOND SCHOLAR: Yet, Faustus, look up to Heaven, and remember mercy is infinite.

FAUSTUS: But Faustus' offence can ne'er be pardoned; the serpent that tempted Eve may be saved, but not Faustus. He must remain in hell for ever; hell, Oh, hell for ever. Sweet friends, what shall become of Faustus, being in hell for ever?

Faustus, call on God.

FAUSTUS: On God, whom Faustus hath abjured! On God, whom Faustus hath blasphemed! O my God, I would weep! But the Devil draws in my tears. Gush forth blood, instead of tears! Yea, life, and soul! Oh, he stays my tongue! I would lift up my hands; but see, they hold 'em, they hold 'em!

SCHOLARS: Who, Faustus?

FAUSTUS: Why, Lucifer and Mephistophilis. O gentlemen, I gave them my soul for my cunning!

SECOND SCHOLAR: Oh, what may we do to save Faustus?

FAUSTUS: Talk not of me, but save yourselves and depart.

THIRD SCHOLAR: God will strengthen me; I will stay with Faustus.

FIRST SCHOLAR: Tempt not God, sweet friend; but let us into the next room and pray for him.

FAUSTUS: Aye, pray for me, pray for me; and what noise soever you hear, come not unto me, for nothing can rescue me.

SECOND SCHOLAR: Pray thou, and we will pray that God may have mercy on thee.

FAUSTUS: Gentlemen, farewell. If I live till morning, I'll visit you; if not, Faustus is gone to hell.

SCHOLARS: Faustus, farewell!

    [Exeunt Scholars. The clock strikes eleven.

FAUSTUS: Oh, Faustus,
Now hast thou but one bare hour to live,
And then thou must be damned perpetually.
Stand still, you ever moving spheres of heaven,
That time may cease, and midnight never come;
Fair nature's eyes, rise, rise again, and make
Perpetual day; or let this hour be but
A year, a month, a week, a natural day,
That Faustus may repent and save his soul!
O lente, lente, currite, noctis equi!
The stars move still, time runs, the clock will strike,
The Devil will come, and Faustus must be damn'd.
Oh, I'll leap up to heaven: who pulls me down?
See, where Christ's blood streams in the firmament!
One drop of blood will save me: O my Christ!
Rend not my heart for naming of my Christ;
Yet will I call on Him. Oh, spare me, Lucifer!
Where is it now? 'Tis gone.
And see, a threatening arm, an angry brow!
Mountains and hills, come, come and fall on me,
And hide me from the heavy wrath of Heaven!
Then will I headlong run into the earth;
Gape, earth! Oh, no, it will not harbour me.
Yon stars that reigned at my nativity,
Whose influence hath allotted death and hell.
Now draw up Faustus like a foggy mist,
Into the entrails of yon labouring cloud,
That when you vomit forth into the air,
My limbs may issue from your smoky mouths,
But let my soul mount and ascend to heaven.

    [The clock strikes the half hour.

Oh, half the hour is past; 'twill all be past anon.
Oh, if my soul must suffer for my sin,
Impose some end to my incessant pains;
Let Faustus live in hell a thousand years,
A hundred thousand, and at last be saved!
No end is limited to damnéd souls.
Why wert thou not a creature wanting soul,
Or why is this immortal that thou hast?
Oh, Pythagoras' metempsychosis, were that true,
This soul should fly from me, and I be changed
Into some brutish beast! All beasts are happy,
For when they die
Their souls are soon dissolved in elements;
But mine must live still, and be plagued in hell.
Curs'd be the parents that engender'd me!
No, Faustus, curse thyself, curse Lucifer
That hath deprived thee of the joys of heaven.

    [The clock strikes twelve.

It strikes! It strikes! Now, body, turn to air,
Or Lucifer will bear thee quick to hell!
O soul, be changed into small water-drops,
And fall into the ocean, ne'er be found!

    [Thunder. Enter Devils.

Oh, mercy, Heaven! Look not so fierce on me!
Adders and serpents, let me breathe awhile!
Ugly hell, gape not! Come not, Lucifer!
I'll burn my books. O Mephistophilis!

    [Exeunt Devils with FAUSTUS. Enter CHORUS.

CHORUS: Cut is the branch that might have grown full straight,
And burned Apollo's laurel-bough,
That sometime grew within this learnéd man.
Faustus is gone. Regard his hellish fall,
Whose fiendful fortune may exhort the wise,
Only to wonder at unlawful things,
Whose deepness doth entice such forward wits
To practice more than heavenly power permits.

You'll love the book... ISBN 978-1-326-80644-6

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