Doctor Faustus | Study Guide

Christopher Marlowe

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Course Hero. "Doctor Faustus Study Guide." June 23, 2017. Accessed December 15, 2017. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Doctor-Faustus/.

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Course Hero, "Doctor Faustus Study Guide," June 23, 2017, accessed December 15, 2017, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Doctor-Faustus/.

Doctor Faustus | Act 4, Scene 2 | Summary

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Summary

The duke and duchess of Vanholt have been enjoying Faustus and Mephastophilis's company. Addressing the duchess, who is pregnant, Faustus asks what he might provide in the way of a delicacy to please her. She replies that she craves a dish of ripe grapes—something impossible to get at this time, during winter. Faustus says she shall have it and sends off Mephastophilis. The devil returns moments later with the best grapes the duchess has ever tasted. She asks how Faustus obtained them, when grapes are available only in summer. The doctor explains while it is winter here, it is summer in some far countries of the world. He only must send a "swift spirit" to fetch the grapes. With thanks, the duke and duchess promise to reward Faustus well for this great kindness.

Analysis

This brief scene further accentuates the trivial uses to which Faustus puts his magic. Conjuring grapes in winter bears little resemblance to his original ambitions to be "emperor of the world" and "make bridges through the moving air" or to change the configuration of continents by joining Africa to Spain (Act 1, Scene 3). Instead of dominating kings and other figures of power, he performs tricks for them at their command.

The doctor's explanation of how grapes may be obtained demonstrates existing, though imperfect, knowledge of the world and describes the division between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. However, "India, Saba, and farther countries in the east" ("east" referring to the Middle East) do not lie in the Southern Hemisphere any more than Germany does. This problem is addressed in the later B-Text when Faustus states that these countries "have fruit twice a year."

With this scene, the B-Text aligns once again with the A-Text. However, in the B-Text the scene has been expanded for comic effect to include the reappearance of characters such as Robin and the horse-courser.

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