The world of doctor faustus
The play is eponymous, centring on the main character Faustus - an intelligent man who proclaims himself to have excelled in all fields. He has studied religion, law, physic, and finds all wanting. All fail to maintain his interest once he believes he has mastered them or has found out their true meaning - that religion states that 'reward of sin is death', that law is a 'petty case of paltry legacies'. He sells his soul to the devil for 24 years of total power. He seeks answers to all the big questions but with only the smallest of urges. What he really desires is power and fame. Mephostophilis is his servant and fetches what Faustus lusts for but, as we soon learn, there are limitations to what he can have. He desires a wife and is given a spirit in the form of Helen; he wants to know who made the world - he is shown how to make a fool of the Pope.
We wait for this great man to realise the limitations of his new powers and beg forgiveness from God but he allows himself to be distracted and entertained away from the inevitable disillusion and guilt that such realisation would bring. The Good and Bad Angels are physical manifestations of Faustus' doubts but they are not convincing. He clings to his fate and even when the clock strikes midnight, signalling his impending doom, he still refuses to repent.
What Marlowe creates is an individual who is stubborn in his intelligence and arrogant is his blindness but what modern audiences perceive is universal significance in his plight. Why are we born with unending curiosity if we cannot conceive of it? Why give us the desire but limit the performance?