Faustus begins to repent that he has made a contract with the devil. Mephistophilis tries to console Faustus by telling him that heaven is not such a glorious place and that humans are more wonderful than anything in heaven. The Good Angel and the Evil Angel appear, and each tries to influence Faustus' decision. Faustus is haunted by the thought that he is damned. He thinks that he would have killed himself by now if he had not been able to conjure up Homer to sing and soothe him. Now he asks Mephistophilis to argue about theoretical matters. Faustus is not satisfied with the things that Mephistophilis is able to tell him and maintains that even Wagner knows the answers to such questions. He now wants to know about the power behind the universe and who made the world. Mephistophilis tries to get him to think of hell and other things rather than about these heavier philosophical matters.
Faustus cries out for Christ to save him, and at this moment, Lucifer himself appears. Lucifer reminds him that he is breaking his promise by thinking on Christ. He tells Faustus that he has brought some entertainment to divert him.
The seven deadly sins — pride, covetousness, wrath, envy, gluttony, sloth, and lechery — appear before Faustus in the representation of their individual sin or nature. Faustus is delighted with the show and Lucifer hands him a book and promises to return at midnight. After everyone leaves, Wagner appears and says that Faustus has gone to Rome to see the pope.
In this scene, we see for the first time a definite change in Faustus. He begins to repent of his pact with the devil. In a reversal of their roles, Mephistophilis now chides Faustus for his lack of resolution, whereas in a previous scene, Faustus had to reprimand Mephistophilis for not being resolute enough. The manner in which Mephistophilis tries to convince Faustus is an instance of logic. He says that humanity is better than heaven because earth "'twas made for man, therefore is man more excellent."
Note again that the Good Angel and the Evil Angel appear to Faustus at this point — that is, when he is once again in doubt about his decision. As previously, Faustus follows the path of the Evil Angel. Faustus is torn between two poles of belief which attract him. He desires to have the beauty of the classical world as represented by Homer and in a later scene by Helen, but at the same time he also wants to keep the best of the Christian tradition. Consequently, we have Christianity and classicism juxtaposed in these scenes; they are part of the tension in Faustus' mind. This tension also existed in the Renaissance world, which was interested both in the Hellenistic (Greek) world and the Christian world. The Renaissance tried to unify divergent interests in these two worlds.
According to the traditional Christian view, Faustus is now tempted by another sin — that of suicide. Faustus' first sin had been to deny God. Then he also fell into the sin of despair, wherein he lost hope for redemption. In this scene, he considers suicide, which is another cardinal sin.
As Faustus begins to demand deeper knowledge from Mephistophilis, he desires to know about the primary cause of the world, but Mephistophilis is unable to answer him. At every point when Faustus begins to question the universe or whenever Faustus begins to think about heavenly things, Mephistophilis tells him to "think on hell." Originally, Faustus made the pact in order to learn about the primal causes of the world; therefore, Mephistophilis is unable to fulfill his part of the bargain. Second, whenever Faustus brings up these questions, Mephistophilis tries to divert him because he possibly knows that thoughts of heaven would allow Faustus to break his contract with Lucifer.
It is a highly dramatic moment when Lucifer himself appears on the stage. Faustus maintains that Lucifer looks extremely ugly, and again the implication is that hell is ugly.
At the crucial moments when Faustus wavers, the devils always try to divert him in some sensual manner. When Faustus begins to question Mephistophilis about primeval causes, the devils try to take his mind off these noble questions and force him to think about carnal matters. Consequently, in this scene the powers of hell divert Faustus by bringing forth the seven deadly sins to entertain Faustus and to remove all these troublesome questions from his mind.
The appearance of the seven deadly sins is a holdover from the morality plays and becomes another type of interlude in the play. Furthermore, the manner in which they describe themselves is somewhat comic. Whereas in a morality play the seven deadly sins would be paraded before the main character as a warning to abstain from evil, in Doctor Faustus they are presented to Faustus only to delight and distract him from heavenly thoughts.
The seven deadly sins do have a philosophical significance and do carry forward the intellectual meaning of the plot, but they also function to appeal to the general audience, who would find entertainment in the grotesque physical appearance of these awesome creatures.
Immediately after the appearance of these seven deadly sins, Faustus says "O, this feeds my soul!" Previous to this scene, Faustus had used the same metaphor of eating to express his great hunger for knowledge and power, and now this metaphor is used to show how low Faustus has fallen when the dreadful show of the sins can satisfy his soul.
At the end of the scene, Wagner enters and takes over the function of the chorus by making expository explanations, filling in background material, and letting the audience know that Faustus has now flown to Rome, where he will meet with the pope.