?Dr. Faustus? is the most popular play of the Elizabethan period (16th Century). The fact that the play managed to survive for five centuries along with its more illustrious rivals, the Shakespearean plays, speaks volumes about its merit. The play was written by Christopher Marlowe, a ?member? of a famous literary circle called ?University Wits?. The stamp of the European Renaissance, the background for the emergence of a galaxy of great minds in different branches of knowledge and sciences, can be found in the works of the University Wits. Unfortunately, no other work other than that of Marlowe is available now. That is a pity indeed!
Dr. Faustus is a great scholar. He foolishly, but honestly, thinks that he has mastered all branches of knowledge and sciences. This thinking proves his undoing. He has developed a thirst for power in the meanwhile. He considers medicine, jurisprudence and other subjects and comes to the conclusion that he has nothing more to learn from these subjects. Then comes the question of black magic or necromancy. If one sells his soul to Satan, the head of the evil nether world, he will get a few years of supreme power in the earth and go to hell after the agreement expires. Dr. Faustus sells his soul to Satan and gets 25 years of powerful life in the earth.
Dr. Faustus is very happy and thrilled about his powers. He conjures Helen, from Heaven or Hell I do not remember, and says whether that was the face that drowned a thousand ships and burnt the topless towers of Ilium. He makes fun of the gluttonous and corrupt members of the church by disrupting their feast in invisible mode. But when the period of agreement is going to end, Dr. Faustus starts realizing the perdition that is going to catch his soul. All his bemoaning and entreaties couched in rich language fail to move the compassionate God because Dr. Faustus has condemned himself 25 years ago. Dr. Faustus meets with an untimely death.
The plot of the story is very simple. But the play is full of allegories and symbolism with a deep knowledge of the then latest developments in epistemology. Marlowe ridicules the outdated social institutions fearlessly. Neither spiritual nor temporal powers could make him stop exposing the dirty sides of the then social institutions. There are comic interludes too. The lines are highly poetic and we may be unknowingly using some of Marlowe?s idioms and phrases, without knowing that, in our daily lives. The language is quite modern and any one with a fundamental knowledge of the language will have no difficulty in reading and enjoying Dr. Faustus.