Study Guide

Doctor Faustus

by Christopher Marlowe

Doctor Faustus eText - Dramatis Personae

This eText contains embedded glossary terms and other notes added by our community of educators. Simply mouseover or tap on the yellow highlighted words within the text to see the annotations.
Turn Off

Dramatis Personae

  • Miss Kate and Miss Julia – Kate and Julia Morkan are influential women in Dublin's musical community, who throw a Christmas party every year.
  • Adam and Eve's – the nickname for Dublin's Church of the Immaculate Conception
  • back answers – back-talk; disrespect
  • Gabriel – Gabriel is Kate and Julia's nephew, who is also a professor.
  • “A light fringe…on the shoulders…” – In “The Dead,” Joyce employs two other symbols for the paralysis motif: snow and ice. The description of Gabriel as he comes in from the cold foreshadows Gabriel's role as the protagonist of this story and hints that he is somehow paralyzed.
  • palaver – flattery
  • muffler – a type of scarf
  • scintillated – flashed, sparkled
  • gilt – golden
  • deprecation – disapproval
  • Robert Browning – (1812 – 1889), a well-known English poet
  • flaccid – hanging in loose folds or wrinkles
  • vivacious – full of life, lively
  • mirthless – not amused
  • Guttapercha – [Gutta-percha] a rubber-like substance (laytex) that is obtained from various Asian evergreen trees
  • Christy Minstrels – [Christy's Minstrels] a theatrical group formed in 1843; they performed three-act shows, and the characters were usually stereotypical, derogatory representations of African Americans and were performed by European actors. This character type became known as blackface.
  • Gresham – a fancy hotel in Dublin
  • wizen – shriveled
  • viands – food
  • hop-bitters – most likely, a type of beer
  • “…I'm like the famous…I want it.” – This is probably a punch-line to a well-known joke during the time.
  • “Quadrilles!” – types of square dances that originated in France
  • convex – rounded
  • tumid – swollen
  • imprecation – cursing
  • “two murdered princes in the Tower” – a reference to King Edward IV's sons; they were supposedly murdered by their uncle, who eventually became King Richard III; this story was recreated by Shakespeare in Richard III.
  • tabinet – [tabbinet] a type of fabric
  • man-o-war suit – a popular type of suit worn with trousers and a wide-brimmed straw sailor hat
  • rankled – festered
  • Lancers – a type of quadrille (see note: “Quadrilles!” above)
  • West Briton – a derogatory name for an Irishman or woman who sympathizes with England
  • paltry – wretched
  • the University question – Because Ireland's primary university, Trinity College, was Protestant-based, and the majority of the Irish population was Catholic, Irish citizens often questioned their place in higher education.
  • go visiting – the part of the dance during which the couples change partners and perform a particular step
  • embrasure – an opening for a door or a window
  • the park – Phoenix Park (see note: the Park gate in “A Painful Case” Glossary above)
  • Wellington Monument – a monument that stands 175 feet high, located in Phoenix Park; the Duke of Wellington began building it in 1871, and it was finally completed in 1892.
  • the Three Graces – In Greek mythology, there were three sisters (Aglaia, Euphrosyne, and Thalia), who were goddesses of pleasure, charm, beauty, nature, creativity, happiness, and fertility.
  • Paris – In Greek mythology, Paris was the son of Priam. Paris gave Aphrodite a golden apple, which signified that she was the most beautiful goddess, and, in turn, she awarded him Helen, which was the start of the Trojan War. Golden apples are also mentioned in “A Little Cloud,” but in a different context.
  • Arrayed for the Bridal – a song from an opera called I Puritani
  • acquiescence – passive agreement
  • emphatically – positively; definitely
  • refractory – stubborn
  • “…it's not at all…over their heads.” – Pope Pius X did not allow women to sing with the choir.
  • “of the other persuasion” – Protestant
  • “To take a pick itself” – “to have something to eat”; “to have a bite to eat”
  • “Beannacht libh” – [Irish] “Goodbye”
  • minsters – probably referring to containers that are arranged in the form of a monastery
  • blancmange – a sweet jelly-like dessert
  • sentries – guards, watches
  • squads – small armies
  • minerals – mineral water
  • draught – [draft] beer
  • the Gaiety pantomime – The Gaiety was a Dublin theater, and pantomime is a technique during which the actors use gestures and actions while the chorus narrates with song.
  • Mignon – an 1866 opera based on Johan Wolfgang Goethe's Wilhelm Meister's Lehrjahre
  • Georgina Burns – a well-known soprano during the 19th century
  • “Tietjens…Aramburo.” – various opera singers in the 19th century
  • Let me like a Soldier Fall – a piece from the opera Maritana; Joyce's choice to include this in Dubliners is most likely connected with his desire to have the sheet music for this specific song visibly in his pocket when a picture of him was taken for a literary magazine.
  • unyoke – removed, released
  • prima donna – the main female singer in an opera
  • “…pull her…to her hotel.” – This passage is a reference to a famous incident that took place in Dublin in 1868. After one of Therese Tietjens' (1831 – 1877) performances, people tied ropes to her carriage and proceeded to pull her through the streets of Dublin until they reached her hotel because they were so impressed with her performance. Once they arrived, the fans did not leave, even after Tietjens went inside; they finally agreed to leave, but only if Tietjens sang an encore.
  • Dinorah – a French opera
  • Lucrezia Borgia – an Italian opera
  • Caruso – Enrico Caruso (1874 – 1921), a famous tenor
  • Parkinson – There is no notable opera singer with this name; therefore, Aunt Kate may have confused the name or is thinking of someone else.
  • Mount Melleray – a Cistercian Abbey; the Abbey of St. Bernard de Trappe, which was used as a rehabilitation center for alcoholics.
  • incredulously – skeptically
  • “in our Church” – Remember, Mr. Browne is Protestant.
  • “slept in their coffins” – A myth about Trappist monks was that they slept in coffins; however, this is incorrect, but was probably believed because of the strict lifestyle the Trappist monks lived.
  • their last end – a reference to Numberes 23:10 in the Bible; “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!” The “last end” refers to death.
  • lugubrious – very sad, mournful
  • “…a gleaming…westward…” – This statement, similar to one made earlier in the story, subtly shows Gabriel's desire to leave, not just the party, but Ireland. Earlier, Gabriel is chastised for wanting to see other parts of the world, rather than his own country. This lends itself to the idea that the country of Ireland is a paralyzing force. The loyalty and patriotism the Irish feel makes it difficult to think about or travel to other countries.
  • Fifteen Acres – an area of Phoenix Park (see note: the park above)
  • actuated – motivated, driven
  • the Three Graces – see note: the Three Graces above
  • invidious – envious; damaging, scandalous
  • “He has…like the gas…” – Aunt Kate is saying that Mr. Browne is readily available, like gas, which was abundant throughout Dublin at that time.
  • astrakhan – a type of fabric made to resemble lambs' fur
  • journey home – The mention of a journey indicates a quest that Gabriel will be embarking on.
  • trap – a type of two-wheeled carriage
  • “mansion of his forefathers” – a biblical allusion to John 14:2, in which Jesus states, “In my Father's house are many mansions, if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”
  • King Billy's statue – a statue of King William III (1650 – 1702) riding a horse; King William III defeated the Irish in 1690, and his statue was erected in 1701 across from Trinity College and the Parliament. The statue was not well liked by the Dubliners and was always ridiculed, especially considering how King William III died after contracting pneumonia, which was a complication from the collarbone he broke after falling from his horse.
  • “He asked himself…in that attitude.” – This description of Gabriel's thoughts of his wife shows, according to many critics, that Gabriel views Gretta as an object, rather than a person, which is why he had difficulty articulating his interpretation of her attitude. Instead, the only way he can express her attitude is by turning her into a painting, another inanimate object.
  • old Irish tonality – Early Irish music consisted of a five-tone scale.
  • plaintive – sorrowful, mournful
  • cadence – a balance
  • “O, the rain…lies cold…” – a song from western Ireland called “The Lass of Aughrim”
  • swathing – wrapping
  • brooded – hovered
  • parapets – a wall used to protect the edge of a roof, bridge, or platform
  • the Four Courts – Ireland's central courts
  • heliotrope – reddish-purple in color
  • “He was standing…fire hot, sir?” – This is an obvious question, but the scene is important for the remainder of the story. Before they reach the platform, Gabriel was fantasizing about Gretta, remembering their times alone together, which is almost immediately juxtaposed with the image of Gretta being close with another man. In this scene, the fire, as in many pieces of Victorian literature, is a symbol of passion and desire.
  • “make her forget…together…” – This statement suggests that Gabriel and Gretta's marriage has, for some time, grown stale and suffers from some type of emotional paralysis.
  • the statue – a statue of Daniel O'Connell (1775 – 1847), a strong political leader nicknamed “the Liberator,” who founded the Catholic Assocation (1823)
  • “…he felt that…new adventure.” – This image evokes the idea of a journey from life and daily existence, which may foreshadow yet another juxtaposition with paralysis.
  • girt – secured
  • “He could have flung…body in check.” – These lustful impulses seem to be a direct result of the emptiness Gabriel feels from his marriage currently. The lust he feels has been stirred up by memories and emotions connected to past years—Gabriel longs to feel that way again.
  • toilet-table – a type of dresser
  • diffidence – insecurity, lacking in confidence
  • sovereign – a British gold coin
  • ardour – passion
  • sottish – drunk
  • impetuous – impulsive, passionate
  • stockstill – completely motionless
  • cheval-glass – a full-length mirror
  • “It was a person…Galway…” – Remember earlier in the evening when Miss Ivors spoke with Gabriel about traveling to the west of Ireland, Gretta admitted that she would “love to see Galway again.”
  • gasworks – a factory where heating and lighting is prepared
  • evocation – a re-creation
  • pennyboy – someone who runs errands
  • vulgarians – rude people, barbarians (referring to their education)
  • pitiable – pathetic
  • fatuous – foolish
  • “great with him” – “very close to him” (not meant in a sexual sense)
  • “I think he died for me…” – This statement shows that Gretta has been unable to fully move on from the past. Her illogical guilt over Michael's death (given that he was ill and obviously did not die for her) and her love for him that never died has paralyzed or prevented her from fully loving another.
  • impalpable – invisible
  • Oughterard – a village north of Galway
  • Nuns' Island – an area in Galway, which is not really an island
  • implored – begged
  • irresolutely – hesitantly
  • obliquely – indirectly
  • “The time had come…westward.” – Gabriel is sacrificing his desires and dreams for his wife. He truly loves her, and he wants to help her deal with the death of her old beau. This is a very significant epiphany for Gabriel. He once loved his wife innocently and purely, but with this new information, his love for her has changed—it has lost its innocence. Now, and for the rest of their marriage, he will always have knowledge that she does not love him as fully as she could. Heading westward emphasizes the paralysis motif, in addition to the theme of unfinished journeys. In a way, Gabriel's marriage can be seen as a journey that will never be completed because Gretta can never fully love him.
  • Bog of Allen – an area consisting of several bogs; it is a major fuel source of areas of Ireland
  • Shannon – a river in west-central Ireland that leads to the Atlantic