[[caption-width-right:344:Veni, veni, Mephistophile!]]

So you're a doctor in [[UsefulNotes/TheRenaissance post-medieval]] [[UsefulNotes/HolyRomanEmpire Germany]] who's getting tired of the dreary drudgery of everyday life. What to do when saving the lives of your patients no longer brings you a feeling of satisfaction and joy? Why, turn to [[BlackMagic satanic magic]] and [[DealWithTheDevil summon a devil]] to use as your own personal slave, of course! [[EvilIsNotAToy We're sure you can guess what happens next.]]

''The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus'' is 16th-century English playwright Creator/ChristopherMarlowe's take on the classic legend of {{Faust}}, or, as he calls him, Dr. John Faustus. Marlowe, who in his own time was considered something of a rebel and an atheist (which is to say, someone who did not practise the faith exactly as the law said it should be practised; the word could apply to someone who was simply sceptical of the scripture as it was given, someone who blasphemed, or even a Catholic), represents Faustus as a typically Renaissance figure, seeking above all things knowledge -- and the expansion of personal wealth and power that knowledge brings. His play is the first version of the story to present the central figure as a character who is somehow magnificent even in the midst of his crimes, exactly because his desires have no limits.

Perhaps the best known part of this play is the famous invocation of Helen of Troy (or, as Faustus calls her, "Helen of Greece"):

-->''Was this the face that launch'd a thousand ships,\\
And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?--\\
Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss.--''

This play is the TropeNamer for LauncherOfAThousandShips. See also {{Faust}} for further information, including versions of the story by other authors.

!! Christopher Marlowe's ''Doctor Faustus'' contains examples of the following tropes:

* AFormYouAreComfortableWith: This is {{enforced|Trope}}. Faustus cannot stand Mephistopheles' initial appearance, being a profoundly repulsive image, so he orders him to vanish and reappear as a Franciscan monk.
* AltumVidetur: Faustus frequently quotes Latin phrases and [[AsTheGoodBookSays Bible quotes]] either poorly or completely out of context, implying he isn't as wise as he thinks he is.
* BadassNormal: Faustus [[UnreliableNarrator claims]] to have cured plagues ''before'' making his pact with the devil.
* BreakTheHaughty: Faustus begins the story by rejecting various scholarly studies, believing he has mastered every one of them. He rejects theology as well, completely misunderstanding the concept of sin leading to death. By the end of the story, Faustus has gone through various kinds of abuse from Mephistopheles, the Devil, and other demons. He's completely distraught, refusing to repent because he's too emotionally broken to realize his options.
* ButtDialingMordor: Though Faustus himself knows what he's getting into when he starts summoning demons, Robin and Dick do not. They're larking around, misreading the Latin as if on purpose, and accidentally summon Mephistopheles himself. He isn't happy at all by their disrespectful methods and [[BalefulPolymorph transforms them into animals]]. This trope suggests that there never was anything special to Faustus's original incantations and that he never actually knew what he was doing.
%%* ByronicHero
* CanisLatinicus: Robin says gibberish that only sounds like it's Latin. However, because of everything he's doing and the context in which he's doing it, he ends up successfully summoning Mephistopheles. This is one of many clues that Faustus isn't so special after all.
* ChronicVillainy: Faustus almost repents a few times throughout the story, but Mephistopheles and Lucifer threaten him enough that he's too scared to actually repent. Even though the Good Angel tells him otherwise, he refuses to admit to himself that he can repent. Even at the end of the play, he [[BreakTheHaughty cannot get himself]] to save himself, cravenly asking for more time.
* ComedicSociopathy: The sequence where Faustus uses his diabolical powers to prank people is both cruel and funny.
* DealWithTheDevil: The TropeCodifier; Faustus sells his soul to Lucifer in exchange for temporarily having Mephistopheles at his command.
* DespairEventHorizon: After Lucifer introduces Faustus to the sins and threatens to torment him physically should he try to repent, the man loses all hope for redemption. He realizes the severity of his deal but cannot admit to himself that the eternal ethereal peace profoundly outweighs the temporary physical torment.
* DownerEnding: Faustus refuses to repent, desperately begs for more time, and is physically overpowered by a swarm of demons who literally drag him -- kicking and screaming -- to Hell.
* EvilIsNotAToy: One of the themes of the play. Namely, man cannot control evil, so don't make deals with Lucifer. He'll get what he wants for eternity while you only get what you want temporarily.
* EvilIsPetty:
** Faustus gains great demonic power and immediately punches the Pope.
** Mephistopheles is summoned on accident by Robin and Dick and so he decides to transform them into animals.
* EvilMakesYouUgly: Mephistopheles implies that Lucifer before his fall was superhumanly beautiful, but the first thing Faustus does upon seeing the present-day Lucifer is ask "Who are you that look so terrible?"
* EvilVirtues: Both Faustus and Mephistopheles have a defining one:
** Faustus is filled with '''[[AmbitionIsEvil Ambition]]''' to a fault. His primary reason for his interest in dark magic is because he refuses to accept any limitation on what he can know or do. It doesn't work out.
** Mephistopheles displays a surprising amount of '''[[NobleDemon Honor]]'''. He keeps his bargain to the letter, giving Faustus everything that he promises, without abusing possible loopholes based on ExactWords.
* FalseReassurance: Mephistopheles is totally honest, but his words (the famous "why this is hell" speech) are vague enough that Faustus can stupidly interpret them however he wants to.
* FlatEarthAtheist: Despite just summoning a demon from Hell and proceeding to sell his immortal soul to the Devil, Faustus insists to Mephistophiles' annoyance that Hell and damnation are metaphorical.
* GetTheeToANunnery: Tons and tons. One of the minor characters mentions that he'd use magic to transform into a flea and crawl into women's plackets, quite literally slits in skirts.
* AGodAmI: Faustus says, "A sound magician is a mighty god."
* GoodAngelBadAngel: Marlowe actually calls the characters Good Angel and Bad Angel in the script.
* HealingFactor: Part of Faustus's deal with the devil. In one version, he regrows a torn-off leg and a severed head.
* HomoeroticSubtext: A fair portion of Mephistopheles' dialogue with Faustus implies homosexuality on the demon's part. It is ambiguous as to whether he feels this way to all humans or to men specifically when he says things like Heaven "is not so fair as [Faustus] or any man that breathes on earth." Stage productions will sometimes make the subtext more explicit.
* IdiotBall: After being humiliated by Faustus, the knight Benvolio gets a group of knights together to get revenge. Against the scholar with a demon slave and all the powers of Hell. It goes about as well as you'd expect. Faustus more than qualifies as well (see Badass Normal, Informed Ability, and Misapplied Phlebotinum).
* InformedAbility: You'd think a so-called genius like Faustus could come up with more intelligent uses for his powers than pranks and shows.
* MagicIsEvil:
** Magic in this story comes in the form of angels exerting their energy on the physical world. It just so happens that all of the "angels" are actually ''fallen'' angels, or ''demons.'' Thus, all magic is depicted as evil.
** Two scholars discuss Faustus early in the play, and they realize that he has made a deal with Lucifer. They talk about the two magicians that introduced Faustus to magic, which they consider to be inherently evil.
* MeaningfulName: The demon Faust summons is originally called "Mephostophiles", which is Greek for "Not A Lover of Light". This is one of several implications as to Mephistopheles' true opinion on Lucifer, who is the "Bringer of Light."
* MisappliedPhlebotinum: Faustus uses Mephisto's phenomenal cosmic powers to pull pranks and get women.
* MundaneUtility: Sure, Faustus has the powers of hell at his disposal, but most of the time he uses it to... make fun of the pope? Get fresh grapes in winter for his lady friend? Have sex with Helen of Troy? Faustus eventually realises that he wasted his infinite knowledge for the pettiest of reasons, instead of using said knowledge as he promised before he made that stupid pact, like changing the world for the better. Alas, it is too late, and marks the point where he crosses the DespairEventHorizon.
* NobleDemon: Mephistopheles adheres to VillainsNeverLie and does exactly what Faustus tells him so, to make the point that it is Faustus himself who ruined his own life.
* {{Pride}}: Faust suffers heavily from hubris. In true Greek style, Faust rejects and questions God, angels and devils thinking himself better and more learned than them
* ReligionIsWrong: The story has Mephistopheles and Hell, but Faustus begins the drama by rejecting religion and Mephistopheles implies that hell and damnation means something different from how Christianity has conceived it.
* SelfInflictedHell: In this particular adaptation, Faustus truly believes there's no way to repent for his sins, despite ''freaking angels'' telling him otherwise. In some versions however, Mephistopheles gloats how he tricked Faustus into going too far to repent.
* SevenDeadlySins: Faustus meets them in AnthropomorphicPersonification form at the beginning.
* SpecialPersonNormalName: Faustus's first name is [[DramaticPause ...]] John.
* SummoningRitual: The play features a scene in which Faust summons Mephistopheles from Hell.
* SycophanticServant: When Faustus is considering rescinding on their bargain, Satan appears to parade the Sins before him and ask whether they're delightful. [[YesMan Faustus agrees, emphatically, that they are]]. Because, under the circumstances, disagreeing would be a terminally bad idea.
* SympathyForTheDevil: Mephistopheles, ironically, seems to be one of the sanest and most honest characters in the entire play. Not to mention his "Why, this is hell, nor am I out of it" speech.
* ThirdPersonPerson: Faustus, especially at the beginning of the play, speaks to himself and uses his name in place of the first-person personal pronoun. This emphasizes his vanity and haughtiness, and it is one of many hints at Faustus's actual intelligence.
* ThoseTwoGuys: Robin and Dick, who provide much of the plays comic relief by using Faustus's magic to [[WithGreatPowerComesGreatPerks dick around]].
* TooCleverByHalf: Mephistopheles manipulates Faustus into convincing himself to take the deal. In particular, Mephistopheles reasons that if he is a demon and if he exists, then God and Hell must also exist, due to what a demon ''is''. Faustus, however, argues that just because one part of a story is true does not make other parts true. It's a fallacious argument because the "other parts" (the existence of God and Hell) are ''necessary'' for the first part to be true (the existence of demons, a.k.a. fallen angels).
* WouldHurtAChild: Before summoning Mephistopheles, Faustus mentions how he would build an altar and church to sacrifice newborns to Beelzebub on. It's unclear if he would actually do it, however.