Chorus 3, Scenes 9–11 Summaries

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Chorus 3

The Chorus reappears and informs the audience that Faustus has decided to return home from his travels. Faustus regales his friends and colleagues with stories of what he has seen and becomes famous throughout Europe, renowned for his impressive knowledge of the cosmos and for his wit. For this reason, Faustus is now at the palace of Charles the Fifth, King of Spain and Holy Roman Emperor. He will perform his magic as an honored guest of high royalty, and this is where scene 9 opens.

Scene 9

The Emperor tells Faustus that he has heard numerous descriptions of the magic he is capable of performing with the aid of a Familiar spirit (Mephistophilis). He asks for a demonstration. At this, a Knight of the Emperor’s court mutters that he believes Faustus to be a charlatan.

Speaking graciously of the honor the Emperor does him, Faustus says that he will gladly conjure anything that his majesty wishes to see. The Emperor decides that he would like to see Alexander the Great, as he has studied Alexander’s heroic deeds but cannot meet the man personally. He then adds that he would also like to see the beautiful woman who was his paramour. Faustus replies that he will do so, and the Knight once again mutters that Faustus has no real power.

Before conjuring the two historical figures, Faustus informs the Emperor that he is not capable of producing the true bodies and souls of Alexander the Great and his paramour (presumably because Lucifer does not own their souls). But he says he can conjure specters who bear their likenesses completely. The Emperor bids Faustus to continue with the demonstration. When the Knight scoffs once again, saying that Faustus can no more conjure Alexander the Great than the goddess Diana can turn him into a stag, Faustus replies scornfully and refers to the Knight as having “horns” of his own (the implication being that this Knight is a cuckold). Faustus then sends Mephistophilis away to bring back the specters. The Knight, insulted and still disbelieving, leaves the room. Faustus says that he will exact revenge on the Knight for his rude interruption, and moments later, Mephistophilis returns with the specters of Alexander the Great and his paramour.

The Emperor, astonished, asks to see if the spirit of the paramour bears the same mark on her neck that her real life counterpart famously had. He is delighted to see that she does, and he exclaims that these spirits could be true flesh and blood. When the spirits leave, Faustus then calls to have the Knight return to the room. He does so, and it is revealed that Faustus has caused horns to grow out of the Knight’s head. Enraged, the Knight hurls insults at Faustus, who asserts that the man deserved what he received for having mocked him. The Emperor says that the Knight has suffered sufficiently and asks Faustus to restore his head to normalcy, which Mephistophilis takes care of. At this, Faustus says he must take his leave, and the Emperor exits, greatly pleased by the display and saying that Faustus should await a handsome reward.

When the Emperor and his men leave, Faustus speaks with Mephistophilis, saying that he is concerned that his twenty-four years are running out faster than he had anticipated, and so they must hurry on to Wertenberg.

Scene 10

Scene 10 begins as Faustus encounters a Horse Courser, a tradesman who buys and sells horses. The Horse Courser, who begins by mistaking Dr. Faust’s name as “Dr. Fustian” (a long-winded and pompous speaker), offers to buy Faustus’s horse. After some haggling, Faustus agrees to sell the horse for fifty German thalers but warns the Horse Courser not to ride the horse into water. Believing to have bought this horse for far less than its true value, the Horse Courser happily departs.

When the man leaves, Faustus worries once again about the swift passage of time, concerned that too many of his twenty-four years have expired already. He decides to go to sleep, hoping that doing so will help him to forget about his impending damnation.

The Horse Courser then returns, angry and wet, demanding to speak to Faustus. He explains that he was curious about why this horse could not be ridden into water, and so he tried to do so and found that the horse turned suddenly into a bundle of hay. When Mephistophilis stops the man, saying that Faustus has gone to sleep, having not slept in eight nights, the Horse Courser insists nonetheless that he will speak with Faustus and get his money back. Barging past Mephistophilis, the Horse Courser tries to awaken Faustus by pulling on his leg, and is astonished and horrified to find that the whole leg springs free of Faustus’s body. Faustus screams about his now-missing leg, calling for Mephistophilis to alert the authorities. Terrified, the Horse Courser promises to give them yet another forty thalers if they let him escape, and he runs away. Faustus’s leg immediately grows back, and he reveals that he was only playing a trick on the man for underpaying for the horse.

At this, Wagner enters to inform Faustus that the Duke of Vanholt wishes to summon Faustus for a supernatural performance.

Scene 11

Scene 11 opens with Faustus inside the Duke’s hall, having finished a demonstration. The Duke expresses his enjoyment of Faustus’s performance, but the Duchess appears bored. Faustus, guessing that the duchess’s pregnancy has caused her to desire something specific, asks her what she would have. She replies that she longs for some grapes but cannot have them because they are out of season. At once, Faustus sends Mephistophilis away, and the demon returns quickly with a dish of fine, ripe grapes for the Duchess. Faustus explains that it is summer in the Southern Hemisphere, and his powers can summon the grapes from places where they are currently ripe. The Duchess expresses her gratitude and says that the grapes are the best she has tasted. Both the Duke and Duchess, therefore, agree to reward Faustus for his excellent display of magic.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Chorus 2, Scenes 7-8 Summaries


Chorus 4, Scenes 12–14 Epilogue Summaries