From a student paper on Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus:

“Faustus originally intends for his magic to do good: to increase his intellect and his power so he may help others and possibly ease his finding a mate so he may start a family. Thus, he aspires to be a “white” magician or magus, a rare wise man who could connect with God in order to manipulate objects or events.

Yet when he performs his conjuring in Act 1 Scene 3, he does not pray willingly to God but to devils, for they will move willingly and quickly to bring him the same end–power. Does he then truly become a demonic or “black” magician in this act? Hardly, for Mephistopheles arrives of his own free will, and their relationship continues in the same dynamic, with Mephistopheles as the magician and Faustus as the pawn who has given up what small power he previously has for the pretense of that of another.

The Renaissance audience, according to Traister, would have recognized this relationship and known that Faustus was not either a white or black magician, or either a true or ceremonial (a distinction made by Eugenio Garin in which ceremonial magic leads to chaos and sin). The type of magician Faustus is allowed to imitate is limited by Mephistopheles as well as what kind of magic he is permitted to perform. Mephistopheles refuses to conjure a wife for Faustus; rather he insists on a lusty paramour, Helen.

The only magic Faustus does perform are childish tricks against the Pope, unquestionably demonic or “black”, for he acts consciously against God, and only because Mephistopheles allows him to be a magician for one fleeting moment. Faustus, of course, pays for this type of magic with his own demise and damnation to Hell.”

From a student paper <http://replay.waybackmachine.org/20070205123817/http://virtual.park.uga.edu/cdesmet/tiffany/faustus2.htm>

Renaissance Attitudes Towards Faustus as a Magician
A Look at Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus

Pasted from <http://web.archive.org/web/20070201210657/http://virtual.park.uga.edu/cdesmet/tiffany/faustus.htm>

Jesse Baker, Adria Bredemann, Brittain Brussart, Adrian McLeer, Tiffany Tuck, & Tia Wolowicz
for ENG 434, Dr. Desmet, University of Georgia, May 1997.