The theme that is in the title is basically selling your soul to the devil, featured in the play Dr. Faustus. This play features an accomplished scholar who sells his soul to the devil, and in return he gets ‘magical powers’. According to Wikipedia, “Doctor Faustus (play) The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus, commonly referred to simply as Doctor Faustus, is an Elizabethan tragedy by Christopher Marlowe, based on German stories about the title character Faust. It was probably written in 1592 or 1593, shortly before Marlowe’s death.”
In this play, Lucifer (Satan), using a demon named Mephistophilis as a messenger, Lucifer and Faustus strike a deal. Faustus says that if Lucifer grants him twenty-four years on earth and Mephistophilis as Faustus’ servant, then Faustus, at the end of the twenty-four years, will give his soul to Lucifer and become one of those trapped in hell. This will explain it better: “Using Mephistophilis as a messenger, Faustus strikes a deal with Lucifer: that he is to be allotted twenty-four years of life on Earth, during which time he will have Mephistophilis as his personal servant, and, at the end of which, he will give his soul over to Lucifer as payment and spend the rest of time as one of the damned in hell. This deal is supposed to be cemented in the form of Faustus’ own blood. Interestingly, at first his blood congeals, leading to second thoughts by Faustus. Mephistophilis brings coals to break the wound open again, and thus Mephistophilis begins his servitude and Faustus his oath.”, taken from Faust.com. After he took this oath, he did crazy stuff for years. He became a rich dude, and lived in a big house. He lived off of whatever the demon stole, food, clothes, whatever the demon could get. When the twenty-four years was almost over, he had a big party with his friends. Then, when he went into his room to sleep, he never came out. Some people investigated, and they found blood and body parts scattered across the room. Faustus had a very tragic death.
This play also has a moral to it. This is to tell people not to go down the wrong path that Dr. Faustus took. It will only lead to death and destruction. I for one, agree completely with this.
According to Enotes.com, “The primary themes of Doctor Faustus are the relationship between knowledge and power and the consequences of attempting to attain knowledge beyond a certain extent.” Why has this theme remained popular since 1587? Well, we as humans are attracted by interest and curiosity to these kinds of things. The sound of selling your soul to the devil makes people feel scared, frightened, thrilled, and we as humans are attracted by this kind of thing. Therefore, this theme has remained popular all the way through the sixteenth century (well, maybe not popular all the way through the sixteenth century, but it was well-known). It is probably still even well-known today.