Renaissance, as we know, was a widespread cultural and educational movement in history during which the old conventions of medieval age were dissolved followed by liberation in all arenas of life and culture. It was marked by the increased quest for power, learning, knowledge; Worldliness, materialism; and love and hankering for sensual pleasures, beauty etc. We see in the play that Doctor Faustus is not satisfied with the classical knowledge, he yearns for more. His proud declarations, supreme thirst for more knowledge and power, inclination towards worldly pleasures lead towards his tragic end.
In his last soliloquy, Faustus blames his divine knowledge for his downfall and even wishes to burn his books. He falls for lust and sensual desires also. Even in his last days, he spends time indulging in debauchery. Hence Doctor Faustus is the tragedy of Renaissance. Reanaissance was immediately followed by widespread Reformation and Protestantanism. The Reformers and Protestants challenged the Church doctrine. Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus embraces the spirit of Reformation. In the play, the Pope is shown to be an unholy, greedy man. When Faustus plays tricks, the Pope and others think it is a ghost from purgatory and try to use a bell and candle.
This is a direct satire on Christian beliefs. Moreover, Mephistopheles appears as a Friar, another attack on Catholicism. This was actually a popular view of them during Reformation. We can thus say that Christopher Marlowe's play Doctor Faustus is a tragedy of Renaissance and Reformation. Doctor Faustus, a scholar famed the world over, thinks that he has reached the limits of knowledge in philosophy, medicine, law, and theology, and he hungers for power. Magic lures him with the offer of knowledge without work or study, and Faustus sells his soul to the devil in return for 24 years during which he will have everything he wants. Faustus begins with grand plans: to free his country, to help the poor, and to make himself master of the world. In the scenes that follow, the reader never sees him even try to reach these goals. Instead, he performs parlor tricks for the Emperor and plays practical jokes on the Pope.
When he asks his servant devil Mephostopilis, the secrets of the universe, he gets what he calls “freshman” answers. Only at the end of the play does Faustus realize that he has tried to get something for nothing: knowledge without work and power without responsibility. Marlowe’s gorgeous language tends to hide the meanness of his character’s desires.