The title character, Faust, sells his soul to the devil because he is discontented with his life and wishes to experience more.
Faust is a scholar who is dissatisfied with what society has to offer. He believes that there must be more than what he can learn from books or from others. To satisfy his curiosity, Faust sells his soul to Mephistopheles, who will give him twenty-four years of unlimited knowledge. In return for this knowledge, Faust must surrender his soul after twenty-four years.
During those twenty-four years, Faust experiences many things that he did not have time for before. He travels all over Europe and even meets Helen of Troy (the most beautiful woman in the world). He has many adventures with Mephistopheles and even falls in love with Gretchen (a girl whose innocence he destroys).
Faust’s greatest moment comes when he realizes that Gretchen was only a pawn in Mephistopheles’ plan to ruin Faust’s life by causing him to break his promise not to seduce Gretchen’s friend Marthe (who had also been seduced by Mephistopheles). This realization causes Faust to regret ever making a deal with the devil and begs God for forgiveness.
In fact, Faust’s pursuit of knowledge is a metaphor for humanity’s quest for power and mastery over nature. The human desire for knowledge has led to great scientific advances; however, it can also lead to hubris like Faust’s quest for immortality through science rather than through faith in God.