Tragic/Comic "Macrostructure" in Marlowe's Dr. Faustus (A-Text)

Boldface Scenes or Elements Break the Pattern

Tragic Magic                    *Comic Magic                         Reality/History

                                                                                                                                      Chorus 1  the plot

                                                    Scene 1 Faustus swears to study magic; Faustus’ first soliloquy

                                                                                            *Scene 2  Wagner teases Scholars

                                                    Scene 3  Faustus conjures Mephistophilis, becomes servant of Lucifer

                                                                                            *Scene 4  Wagner & demons, Clown serves W.

                                                    Scene 5  Faustus signs oath / wavers / psychomachia / 7 Deadly Sins dumbshow

                                                                                             *Scene 6  Robin and Rafe steal Faustus’ book

                                                                                                                                      Chorus 2 to Rome

                                                                                              *Scene 7 Faustus and M disrupt the Pope’s feast

                                                                                              *Scene 8  Robin & Rafe deceive Vintner for feast

                                                                                                            M turns them into ape and dog

                                                                                                                                      Chorus 3  to the Emperor

                                                    Scene 9  Faustus with the Emperor—Alexander and paramour—*gives knight “horns”

                                                                                        *Scene 10 Faustus & Horse Courser--F “dismembered”

                                                    Scene 11  Duke of Vanholt and Duchess—Mephistophilis serves grapes in winter

                                                                                                                                     Chorus 4  Wagner: Faustus will die

                                                    Scene 12  Scholars and Faustus—“Helen of Greece”/Old Man & Meph/psychomachia

                                                    Scene 13  Scholars and Faustus; Faustus’ last soliloquy

                                                                                                                                                    Epilogue: the warning


        Setting up an outline of the play's structure can help you understand it as a whole work of literature, rather than just a series of events.  Plays typically are made of parts which thematically and/or structurally echo each other.  Playwrights intend their audiences to remember and compare these similar scenes (e.g., Everyman's parallel "Vice" and "Virtue" characters' entrance speeches).  As audiences become more sophisticated, and especially as they become more literate, playwrights begin to write extremely subtle patterns into their plays, patterns which only become apparent after multiple viewings of the play or serial rereading.  From that fact, we discovered the English 200/New Criticism strategy of "close reading analysis." [NOTE: If you wish to print this page, change the page layout to "landscape" from "portrait," and the indents will be properly preserved.]