Christopher Marlowe was born in Canterbury in the same yeas as Shakespeare. He studied at Canterbury and then at Cambridge where he took his BA. Then he became a secret agent for the queen. After leaving Cambridge, he went to live in London where he shared a room with Kyd and joined a group of intellectuals. Accused of murder, he was imprisoned but soon realized. His profession of atheism, his dissolute life and his freethinking made him dangerous in the eyes of the Privy Council, who decided to arrest him on evidence probably supplied by his former room-mate Kyd. But before he could be arrested he was killed in a tavern brawl. It is nevertheless widely believed that his death was not accidental, but planned for political reasons. He died very young, but he had already written a lot of plays: Tamburlaine the Great, Doctor Faustus, the Jew of Malta, Edward II… He was a spy, a dangerous man, a rebel, an atheist, but he was also a scholar, a keep observer and interpreter of his own time.
Doctor Faustus tells about a man who sells his soul to the devil in exchange for 24 years of acknowledge and power. The devil will turn back after 24 years and Faustus will have to serve him. The devil will give his soul to the Hell. The plot was not invented by Marlowe but taken from the real history of one Georg or Johannes Faustus, a German magician. Marlowe was impressed by this story but he decided to transform Faustus from a necromancer to a scholar and theologian, and present him at a critical point of his life. In fact he is tired of the science of his time and turns to magic. The soliloquy is divided into two parts which correspond to two half hours before the arrival of the devil.