Scene eight

Synopsis of scene 8

Robin and Rafe (version B, the Clown, Robin, and Dick) are acting as ostlers (people who tend the horses brought in by guests at the inn). They have got hold of Faustus' book of sorcery and hope to gain by using it. They try to charm the vintner (who supplies wine to the inn) after stealing his goblet, but instead they summon up Mephastophilis. He is angered and turns them into animals as a punishment ‘for doing this enterprise' (version B, ‘to purge the rashness of this cursed deed').

Commentary on scene 8

ecce signum Behold the proof – a triumphant cry of the victorious debater.

purchase Profit.

vintner Wine merchant.

gull Cheat.

Drawer; Waiter: An insult to the Vintner, who runs the inn.

Goblet by Roger Rossing available through Creative CommonsI must yet have a goblet paid from you The wine merchant is accusing Robin of stealing. The audience have seen the goblet, which is passed between the characters in a kind of slapstick routine.

you are but a etc This suggests that the inn-keeper is so unimportant as not to be worth naming. It is possible that an actor might also have added some additional insults here, although the use of the word ‘etc' is in itself quite rude.

impeach Accuse.

Sanctobulorum … Mephastophilis The Latin here is nonsensical and dramatises Robin's inability to make use of Faustus' book. Yet he manages to summon Mephastophilis (which makes a point about the limits of Faustus' powers), who discourages Robin from further experiments with the tricks he plays on him and Rafe.

O nomine Domine! In God's name! A slightly garbled version of a phrase familiar to the audience from the Latin Mass.

Peccatum peccatorum! Sin of sins! Rafe, frightened by the demons, admits his lie and returns the goblet. This phrase would also be familiar to the audience from the Latin Mass.

Misercordia pro nobis! Have mercy on us. Yet another phrase from the Latin Mass.

Monarch of hell … these damned slaves Mephastophilis is angry at having to leave Constantinople at the summons of such unworthy souls.

pottage Porridge.

Investigating scene 8

  • During the rest of the play, try to find the lines where Marlowe is using a combination of language and the spectator's imagination to overcome the limitations of the stage
  • Is the purpose of scene 8 simply to provide a change of mood?
  • How many parallels can you find between Faustus and the comic characters? For example:
    • The two ostlers and the wine merchant are made the object of ridicule, being outwitted by Mephastophilis / In a more tragic manner, Faustus is overwhelmed by Satan and Mephastophilis
    • Rafe and Robin seem able to summon Mephastophilis and the demons, but not to control them / When does Faustus realise that he is in the same position?
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