Marlowe and Goethe are different personalities living in completely different times so that its no wonder their plays vary in character. Goethe lived in prosperity and had all his life to think about subjects like human nature, social relationships, history and its influence on the present, love, religion and much more. He was a philosoph, and thats the reason why Goethes Faust is sometimes difficult to understand because you have to dive under the surface of things to understand their true nature. Marlowes work is different: This man was certainly very intelligent and knew a lot about the forces that moved the world, but, unlike Goethe, he didnt have a lifetime to think about one single play. You can imagine that Marlowes Faust became more shallow, but still not shallow enough to be ignored by this imaginary institution we call World Literature. As a compensation, Marlowes work contains more life and action in it, something you cant say about Goethes. Both men were geniuses.
As stated above, the play tells the story of a medieval scientist who allies himself with the devil. The latter promises to serve the first in this world, whereas Faust must do the same in hell. The poor doctor doubts his choices because its his soul being sold, still he follows the devil and has the time of his life. Returning to Goethe to show you another important difference between both versions: Whereas Marlowes Faust wants the devil to provide him with fun and all richness of the world (materialism), Goethes alter ego feels the importance to be educated by the devil to get a complete picture of the world. At the end, Marlowes Faust realizes that all experiences werent worth his soul. He begs God to save him, but it is no longer possible. The devil tears his body apart and takes his soul with him to infinite sufferings.
The effect this play will have on you is tremedous. Fascinated, youll watch Fausts development. Youll particularly like the 5th act where he realizes that all is finally lost. You can really feel his pain in those scenes; the effect is unbelievable.
So, if you want to be touched by human tragedy, I really advise you to read this book. Its done very quickly, so you neednt worry about the time it takes.