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MonkeyNotes-Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe
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Act IV, Scene 5

Summary

Faustus sells a horse to a dealer for forty dollars. He warns the man not to ride it into water. The dealer goes away satisfied. Exhausted and unhappy, Faustus considers the end of his life, which is approaching. He settles down to sleep.

The horse dealers returns in anger. When he rode his horse into the river, the horse turned into a bundle of hay. When he tugs at Faustus’ leg to wake him, the whole leg comes off in his hands. Horrified, the dealer runs away, but not before paying Faustus another forty dollars. Wagner enters with the news that the Duke of Vanholt wishes Faustus to attend him at his court. Faustus prepares for the journey.


Notes

The confrontation between Faustus and the horse dealer shows Faustus using his magic to gain the sum of forty dollars. Earlier, in Act II, Scene 2, goaded by the Bad Angel, Faustus had dreams of enormous power and wealth. In this scene, however, he degenerates into a cheap magician who aims at petty gain. The scene highlights the change that has come over Faustus. For the first time, he hears the voice of his own conscience. He begins to realize that his “fatal time draws to a final end.” Despair begins to fill his thoughts with doubt. Faustus tries to calm these unquiet passions by falling into a deep sleep.

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