Act 1 Summary

The drama opens with Dr Faustus – the protagonist busy in his studies. He is talking to himself (Soliloquy). Being well-learnt he is attracted by logic or analytics. He is quite dissatisfied with the medical advancement as according to him medicine cannot help him make humans immortal or bring dead back to life.

Thus he gets interested in the study of magic that makes a great appeal to him. He thinks that magic will not only make him wealthy but also give him power and glory. 

Soon Wagner – Faustus’ servant enters. He requests Wagner to bring his two friends Valdes and Cornelius. Soon good and evil angels enter. The Evil encourages him to study magic and also become as powerful on Earth as God in the sky. 

The two angels exit and Faustus in left alone to decide (Soliloquy). Valdes and Cornelius appear. Faustus discusses his plan to study and practice magic and feels affirmative.

Cornelius says that Faustus is fully qualified and equipped to study magic. Being eager, Faustus decides to begin the same night without troubling about the outcomes of his act.

In his aspiration to be as God, he choose the not – God. This is the essential irony or the sin and the central irony of the play. 

The two scholars get worried about Dr. Faustus as the latter visits university rarely. To inquire about him, the scholars meet his servant and ask about Faustus. The servant – Wagner is a humorous person and argues in an amusing way. 

The scholars then decide to tell President of University about Dr Faustus. It is the time of night. Dr Faustus is seen in a dark grove. He is ready to conjure – I.e. cause a ghost to appear by the way of magic.

Faustus draws a circle in which he writes the name of Jehovah (name of God) “forward & backward anagrammatised” with the abridged names of holy saints and also the signs of stars and planets.

Mephistopheles appears. Faustus asks him to go back and return in the guise of an old Franciscan Friar. Mephistopheles immediately departs and Faustus is pleased with him. He wants Mephistopheles promise him to serve during his whole life.

Mephistopheles tells Faustus that he will have to take permission from Lucifer – his master. He also tells Faustus that Lucifer was once an angel loved by God. However he was expelled from Heaven because of his aspiring pride and insolence. Faustus is terrified. 

Mephistopheles memorises the joys of Heaven and thus mourns over its loss. Faustus asks Mephistopheles to go to Lucifer and tell him that Faustus wants to surrender hi soul on the condition that Lucifer will spare him for 24 years. 

“Had I as many souls as there be stars, I’d give them all for Mephistopheles”.

The scene shifts. Wagner is seen trying to befool the clown who is unemployed. Wagner wants the Clone to serve him but the latter is in no mood to do that.

To frighten him, Wagner speaks two magic words and also threatens to call two devils. The clone is frightened and thus submits to Wagner promising to serve him.