Scene ten

Synopsis of scene 10

This scene shows how Faustus uses his magical powers for very trivial purposes. He sells a ‘horse', warning the buyer that the horse should not be ridden through water. Of course, the horse trader tries to take the horse into a deep pond, whereupon the horse disappears and the trader is left with only a pile of hay. He returns to Faustus and, finding him asleep, pulls on his leg, which appears to come off! Afraid of what he has done, the horse trader promises to pay Faustus. Faustus leaves to visit the Duke of Vanholt.

Commentary on scene 10

Horse-courser A horse-trader.

Fustian The horse trader's comical mispronunciation of Faustus. Fustian was a kind of coarse cloth.

If … him The horse is a gelding, so the horse-trader does not even have the comfort of being able to use him for breeding purposes.

if I bring … what it is? If I bring the horse's urine for analysis, could you diagnose its illness?

What, dost think … condemned to die Faustus feels insulted by the horse-trader's insinuation that he is a horse doctor, but, in an abrupt change of tone, quickly realises that he is no more than a condemned man.

Confound … quiet sleep Faustus hopes to calm his fears by escaping into sleep.

Thief on the CrossChrist did call the thief upon the cross Faustus also attempts to settle his unquiet mind by referring to an event at the end of Jesus' life Luke 23:32-32 and Luke 23:39-43. As Jesus was dying on the cross, he promised eternal life to one of the criminals being crucified alongside Him. Faustus thinks that he, too, could receive last-minute salvation.

More on salvation: Jesus' last minute forgiveness of a dying criminal is often referred to by Christians as the prime demonstration that it's never too late to repent. Faustus is comforting himself with the thought that he still has time to avoid the consequences of his pact with Satan.

quiet in conceit Serene in this thought.

Doctor Lopez A Portugese physician who attended on Queen Elizabeth 1. In 1594, he was hanged for his supposed part in a plot to poison the Queen.

purgation A medicine that causes evacuation of the bowels.

mass A mild oath, swearing by the Mass.

h'as purged me of forty dollars Faustus has cleaned me out by cheating me of forty dollars.

vent'rous youth An adventurous or reckless youth.

I sat upon a bottle of hay The horse trader ended up sitting on a truss or bundle of hay. In other words, Faustus had magically made a horse out of some hay. The B text version of the play explains this in more detail (see below).

snipper-snapper An inexperienced and conceited young man; compare the modern ‘whipper-snapper'.

hey-pass A phrase from juggling, like ‘Hey presto!'

glass-windows about his ears His spectacles.

I tell thee, he has not slept this eight nights Faustus is becoming more and more agitated as the end of his contract draws near.

ostry Hostelry or inn.

I must be no niggard of my cunning I must not be miserly with my skills. Faustus is always ready to impress highly-placed people with his magic.

Investigating scene 10

  • Make notes on:
    • The ways in which scene 10 contributes to the themes of the play
    • How the scene develops our understanding of what is happening to Faustus' character
    • How the scene develops our understanding of what is happening to Faustus' behaviour.
Related material
Scan and go

Scan on your mobile for direct link.