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MonkeyNotes-Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe
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Act IV, Scene 7

Summary

Back at court, the Duke and Duchess of Vanholt congratulate Faustus on his skill in conjuring. Faustus says that he will provide for the Duchess, who is pregnant, any delicacy that she fancies. At Faustus’ command, Mephistophilis goes away and returns with some grapes. The Duke and the Duchess are impressed that Faustus can find grapes in January.

Dick and his friends enter noisily. They are under the impression that they have simply gone into another room of the inn. In fact, by means of Faustus’ magic, they have been transported to the court of Vanholt. Faustus says that they should be admitted, as they will provide some amusement. The carter asks Faustus about his leg, reminding him also of the trick he played on the horse dealer. Faustus tells them that he has both his legs intact. The clowns remind him of the other tricks he has played on them. Faustus uses his magic powers to silence them.


Notes

Faustus stages another show in this scene, this time to entertain the Duke and the Duchess of Vanholt. He erects an “enchanted castle in the air” for the Duke and fetches a bunch of grapes for the Duchess. But once again, there is a sense of emptiness regarding these theatrical achievements. Faustus’ patrons derive pleasure from his “demonic” skills and his magical performances. However, they do not share in the guilt of his pact with Lucifer. They do not have to suffer any of the accompanying mental and physical tortures. Faustus himself will have to face the consequences of his pact with the devil. This is a question which also concerns the spectators and the readers: are those who witness Faustus’ spectacular shows within the play guilty of forming their own pact with Lucifer? This question may be further extended to include the audience.

The performance at Vanholt is interrupted by the arrival of the horse dealer, the carter, Robin, and Dick. Faustus strikes the drunken hecklers dumb one after the other. The Duke and the Duchess conclude that Faustus’ magic is quite powerful: “His artful sport drives all sad thoughts away.” The Duke and Duchess become on-stage spectators who enjoy Faustus’ “theater of Hell” without being made to suffer for it.

The same is true of the theater spectators who enjoy a similar position and a similar privilege. They too are entertained by “the artful sport” which Faustus, with the help of Mephistophilis, provides for them.

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