From plot debriefs to key motifs, Thug Notes’ Doctor Faustus Summary & Analysis has you covered with themes, symbols, important quotes, and more.
The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus (1604) | Written by: Christopher Marlowe | Published by: Dover Thrift
Thug Notes Summary & Analysis
Sup homegirl? This week we gettin’ in to some devil’s bidness with Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe.
Now befo’ we get started, I gotta lay down some truth real quick. There are actually two different versions of this text- A and B. This summary gonna cover the A- text.
So, Doc Faustus chillin at his spot one day bored as hell. Brutha starts crackin open a few books- “hmm Logic? Meh. Medicine? Done that. Law? Psh. Maynee this is some basic-ass sh**.” So he holla at his servant: “WAGNER! Get yo ass in here! Grab dem two magician boys Valdes and Cornelius, cuz those shady cats prolly know a thing or two bout where a brutha can learn some conjurin, you get me?”
When Sigfried and Roy drop in, they hook Doc Faustus up with some Magic 101. So the Doc fu**in round with his new magic when ZAP! A demon named Mephistophilis pop up and all like “yo!” Faustus like: “say bruh. Think when you go back to hell you can do me a solid and axe Satan if we can do some bidness? Maybe trade my Soul for some BANGIN SUPERPOWERS? Naw sayin? Mephistophilis like: “Fo Sho.”
So Mephistophilis talks to da big man downstairs and a deal is struck: Faustus gonna have 24 years of livin’ tha’ baller’s dream, but at the end, he gonna have to hand over his Soul.
Since the devil got plenty of lawyers in hell with him, he make Faustus sign a contract wit his own blood. But when the doc try to sign dat pap, his blood start congealin- like it tellin him “hold up son! Da hell you think you doin?!” Eventually, though, he gets deem juices flowin’ and sells his soul fo’ da world.
Erry now and then, Faustus be wonderin’ if he can axe God fo’ forgiveness and back outta the deal with the devil- but whenever he do, brutha either say “Nah… fu** it,” or a scary-ass demon pop up outta nowhere and be like “boo muthafu**a!” Other than that, tho, it’s straight up partying like it don’t even matta’. Mephistophilis like “Hey Pssst. Lemme give u da lowdown on some of da universe’s secrets, padna,” then takes Faustus to the Vatican, where they turn invisible and mess wit da Pope.
When they done wit dat, they head to the German Emperor’s digs. The emperor wanna meet an OG ruler, so he axe Faustus to conjure up of Alexander The Great. Faustus oblige a brutha best he can, and errybody eatin it up, cept one knight who frontin’ like “Psh. Dat ain’t even tight.” Faustus like “What you say?” and ZOW- gives dat hater a pair of horns. COLD BLOODED.
Afta dey peace out, the doc sells a horse to some bruh, but it turn in to hay as soon as it get wet. When da horse-man try to get his cash back from a snoozin’, he keep screamin and hollerin’ at the doc tryin to get him to wake up. Eventually, he pull his leg- which pops RIGHT OFF. Turn out Faustus was trollin him double time. Daym this cat is cold.
￼Later, Faustus chillin wit his scholar homies when an old geezer pop in and say “You best get off yo ass and repent if you wanna see Heaven mayne.” Faustus jus’ bout to sh** his pants with dat clock tickin down, and starts to get his repentance on; but Mephistophilis bust in and be like “Faustus I will jack yo white ass UP if you don’t chill.” At 11 o’clock, Faustus realize he only got one mo’ hour til he gotta give up his soul. IT’S GETTIN REAL
Fo Faustus, dat last hour feel longer than the last than last 24 years combined. But time don’t stop fo’ nobody. So when da clock strikes 12, Faustus start cryin out like a lil bitch, and the demons drag his magical ass to hell.
This play has stirred up mad controvery over da years. Like I said earlier, there are actually two different versions of it- and Ain’t nobody know which one is da legit version. Scholars been all up on eachotha’s nuts bout it fo’ years.
Da first one hit da scene in 1604, called the A-text, and the otha’ dropped bout 12 years later, called the B-text. Some cats think the A text is messy, repetitive, and goofy as fu** compared to the B text. Even tho there’s only bout a 600 line difference between the two, peeps think dat pretty much changes the whole game.
Some thugs thinkin dat 600 lines are the difference between Faustus CHOOSIN’ to sell his soul and bein TRICKED in to doin it… like somebody pullin his strings.
Since Faustus CHOOSES damnation in text A, most of the sufferin’ he beast through is psychological; so all throughout da play he goin back and forth between rollin wit da devil’s crew, or jumpin ship and reppin God’s people.
“My heart’s so hardened I cannot repent. / Scarce can I name salvation, faith, or heaven, / But fearful echoes thunder in mine ears, / ‘Faustus, thou art damned.’” (2.3.18- 21)
“But Faustus’ offence can ne’er be pardoned. The serpent that tempted Eve may be saved, but not Faustus.” (5.2.15-16)
Sho, the B-text got plenty o’ dat too. But it got a greater focus on dat physical pain. That’s why at the end of the B-text, Faustus don’t just get carried away. Nah blood. Brutha gets his ass TO UP by demons.
But the controversy don’t stop there, sucka. Some scholars sayin’ this is one of da most Satanic dramas eva’. Others think it’s one of da most Christian. WHAT? Others arguin’ bout which denomination and often pullin in ideas of Calvinist Predestination up in here.
￼Predestination basically mean that some hustlas are so legit that they are destined from day one to get in to heaven, whereas errybody else is damned to hell for all eternity and there’s NOTHING they can do about it. God’s choice. THAT’S RIGHT. No matter if you savin’ the whales, feedin’ the poor, or pre-ordering the Thug Notes book- It don’t matter, you ain’t never gettin’ past dem Pearly Gates unless you got da hookup.
So is Faustus condemned to hell cuz he actin’ out? Or is he actin’ out cuz he condemned to hell? Is the play sayin’ dat you gonna get put in yo place if you try to mess with God’s laws, or is it way mo’ fu**ed up than that? Maybe Marlowe sayin’ dat God’ “divine will” is crooked as hell. Is it possible fo’ Faustus to repent like da Good Angel and da Old Man tellin’ him? Or is salvation impossible fo’ him no matter what?
Well I sho as hell don’t know da answer to all dem questions. But as far as I’m concerned, I’ll put my money on da old man.
“O gentle Faustus, leave this damned art, / This magic, that will charm thy soul to hell / And quite bereave thee of salvation. / Though thou hast now offended like a man. / Do not persever in it like a devil. (5.1.34-38)
Erry one of us gonna make mistakes- and sometimes dem mistakes gonna be so big and bad dat we don’t think it’ll ever get better. Thing is, you really can save yo’self.: Even if it feels like it’ll take an act of God to do it, you just gotta step off all dat and switch lanes to the righteous path. Naw mean?
Yo if you liked this breakdown, check me out as I dive in to Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut. And yo- pre-ordering the Thug Notes can only help yo chances at salvation. So click here to claim yo copy of da smartest literature book to ever hit the mean streets. Thanks for watchin’ y’all. Peace.