Christopher Marlowe's classic Elizabethan play The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus contains a seemingly inordinate number of comic scenes for a tragic play. Although some of the comic scenes appear to be wholly irrelevant or extraneous to the plot, all of the comic scenes nevertheless serve a purpose. Some comic scenes are satirical of the characters and subject matter of the play, some are ironic, and some even foreshadow coming events.
In the first comic scene, Faustus's servant, Wagner, wittily plays words with two scholars who have come to visit Faustus:
FIRST SCHOLAR. How now, sirrah! Where's thy master?
WAGNER. God in heaven knows!
SECOND SCHOLAR. Why, dost not thou know?
WAGNER. Yes, I know. But that follows not.
FIRST SCHOLAR. Go to, sirrah! leave your jesting, and tell us where he is. (1.2.5–10)
This exchange between Wagner and the scholars continues for a short time, during which Wagner references a Latin term, "corpus naturale," uses scholarly terms like...
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