Scene two

Synopsis of Scene 2

This brief, semi-comic scene shows the reaction of those outside Faustus' immediate circle to his pursuit of necromancy, as two unnamed scholars question Faustus' servant, Wagner. Wagner speaks in a parody of philosophical argument, but what he tells the scholars makes them anxious about Faustus' new devotion to magic practices. They decide to try to save him, both for the sake of his soul and because of the respect they have for his intellectual achievements. The scene provides a break between scenes one and three, which are more intellectually intense.

Commentary on Scene 2

sic probo Thus I prove, a common phrase from rhetorical debate.

That follows not … force of argument This shows how Wagner is using, in a semi-comic, manner the language of philosophical discussion (or ‘disputation', as it was often called) and pretending to have the power of life and death (‘hanged at the next sessions') over the Scholars.

licentiates Graduates of the first level of university study.

corpus naturale … mobile (Latin) ‘A natural body that is able to move' - the scholars' expression for the subject matter of Physics.

sessions Periods during which a court of law is sitting.

precision A person who is very observant in religious matters, such as a Puritan, one of those who supported Protestant pro-Bible reforms.

Rector The Principal of the University

reclaim The idea of reclaiming Faustus foreshadows the end of the play. There is still time for Faustus, who has not yet signed his pact with Satan, to repent.

Investigating scene 2

  • How is the audience likely to react to this scene given the content and tone of Scene 1?
  • What does this scene tell us about the kind of play we can expect Doctor Faustus to be?
Related material
Scan and go

Scan on your mobile for direct link.