Christopher Marlowe – Doctor Faustus (ctd.)

Faustus performs one more party trick, this time delivering to the pregnant duchess, who has been craving grapes, a bunch of sweet grapes in the middle of January. Wagner then comes on stage to tell us that he thinks Faustus is getting ready to die because he has given to him all his goods. But on the other hand, he is still partying hard with his fellow scholars. In the next scene from such a party Faustus’s friends ask him to show them the most beautiful woman that every lived, that is Helen of Troy. He obliges and the spirit of Helen passes speechlessly over the stage (the original stage directions). The scholars are duly stricken with admiration. What kind of boy was pretty enough to play this role, I wonder? I know the audience in the Elizabethan theatre didn’t have as good a view as a contemporary viewer in front of an HD screen, but didn’t you have to at least have a shot at making this verbal admiration believable? Anyway, the party is over and a random old man appears to admonish Faustus and exhort him to repent. Faustus despairs, being sure of his being condemned, and Mephastophilis obligingly hands him a dagger. The Old Man implores Faustus not to commit suicide and Faustus asks him to leave him alone so that he could ponder on his sins. The Old Man leaves Faustus in a not very hopeful mood.


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