Doctor Faustus | Study Guide

Christopher Marlowe

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Act 4, Chorus

Course Hero Literature Instructor Russell Jaffe provides an in-depth summary and analysis of the Act 4 Chorus of Christopher Marlowe's play Doctor Faustus.

Doctor Faustus | Act 4, Chorus | Summary



The chorus explains that Faustus has enjoyed all he cares to see of the world and has returned to Germany. His friends have welcomed him home and have been amazed by the wide-ranging knowledge of astrology, the world, and magic the doctor has acquired. Faustus's intellectual prowess has made him famous "in every land." Emperor Carolus the Fifth has invited the doctor to visit his palace and demonstrate his art.


Faustus's pursuit of knowledge seems at an end. He has achieved the power and acclaim he desires. His friends and nearest companions take delight in the stories of his travels "through the world and air." He is admired and sought after. However, this is only for his cleverness. He dines with royalty, but only to entertain them with demonstrations of magic. The chorus tells no stories that reflect the grand and noble aspirations that Faustus once held of becoming emperor of the world.

The chorus announces that Faustus is now at the palace of Emperor Carolus the Fifth. The name Carolus is the Latin form of the name Charles. Carolus the Fifth is Charles V, king of Spain and Holy Roman emperor. The Holy Roman Empire was a group of smaller kingdoms in western and central Europe collectively ruled by an emperor from 800 to 1806.

This chorus scene appears only in the A-Text and was shifted from its position after Faustus's visit to Rome in Act 3, Scene 1, where it appeared to be out of place.

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