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MonkeyNotes-Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe
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Act III, Scene 1

Summary

Having traveled through France, Germany and Italy, Faustus and Mephistophilis are now at the Pope’s palace in Rome. Mephistophilis tells Faustus that it is the feast day of Saint Peter and that great and solemn ceremonies are about to take place in honor of the Pope. Faustus requests that he be allowed to take an active and disruptive part in these celebrations. The Cardinals and Bishops enter, followed by a procession of monks. The Pope is seen with Raymond, the King of Hungary, and Bruno, the defeated rival Pope, who is in chains. Bruno is made to stoop, and the Pope ceremoniously steps on his back to ascend the throne. The Pope sends two Cardinals away to the Holy Council to discover what decision has been reached concerning Bruno’s fate. Faustus suggests that he and his companion should follow the Cardinals, overcome them and then reappear to the Pope as the Cardinals. He should also free Bruno and take him back with them to Germany. They go off.

The Pope declares that Bruno and the Emperor, who elected him, are excommunicated. He shows Bruno the silver belt with the seven keys which symbolize Saint Peter’s keys. They give him power over the whole world. Faustus and Mephistophilis re-enter, disguised as Cardinals. Faustus delivers the “verdict” of the Holy Council: Bruno shall be burnt as a heretic. The Pope delivers Bruno into the hands of the disguised Faustus and his companion. He then declares that there will be a banquet in celebration of his victory over the usurper.


Notes

The second part of the play begins. Faustus is shown enjoying his powers at the Vatican. Mephistophilis appears as a useful traveling companion, who enjoys a good time, especially when practical jokes are involved. There is fresh merriment in this scene. Faustus, free from self-doubt, innocently enjoys himself.

Faustus is shown playing devilish and blasphemous tricks on the Pope. To an English Protestant audience of the late sixteenth century, the Pope was a definite threat. Faustus is shown in a way that would keep the audience cheering for him throughout this satirical representation of the clergy.

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