Date of Award

Summer 2020

Thesis Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Liberal Studies


Dr. Nancy Decker

Second Advisor

Dr. Marianne DiQuartto


This paper explores two prominent plays about the legendary Doctor Faust character through examination of the historical, religious, scientific and political context in which they were written. Christopher Marlowe's The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Faust, Parts 1 and 2 were written approximately two hundred years apart and during that time, the fate of the Faust character changes from damnation in Marlowe's version to redemption in Goethe's version. Both plays reflect the shift in regard for curiosity and the pursuit of scientific knowledge from vice to virtue that occurred between the writing of each play, but this shift in worldview is not enough to account for the difference in the fates of the two Faust characters. This paper argues that the differing fates of the Faust characters reflects the change in the status of religion, magic, and science as acceptable methods of acquiring knowledge about the natural world, the rapidly expanding boundaries of acceptable human knowledge, but most of all the authors' personal motivations for writing their version of the play.

Rights Holder

Kristin E. Abel