David Bruce: DOCTOR FAUSTUS (1604 A-TEXT) — A Retelling — Cast of Characters, Prologue




The Pope.

Cardinal of Lorraine.

Charles V, the Emperor of Germany, and Holy Roman Emperor.

Duke of Vanholt.

Duchess of Vanholt.

John Faustus, doctor of theology.

Valdes, friend to Faustus, and magician.

Cornelius, friend to Faustus, and magician.

Wagner, servant to Faustus.


Robin, hostler at an inn. Hostlers looked after the horses of people staying at the inn.

Rafe, hostler at an inn, and friend to Robin.


Horse Trader.

A Knight.

An Old Man.

Scholars, Friars, and Attendants.




Good Angel.

Evil Angel.

Spirits in the shapes of the Seven Deadly Sins: Pride, Covetousness, Wrath, Envy, Gluttony, Sloth, and Lechery.

Spirits in the shapes of Alexander the Great, of his Paramour, and of Helen.



What are 2.1 and 2.3 in this retelling are in the A-text one long scene featuring Faustus and Mephastophilis. The text makes clear that this cannot be one scene because time must have passed so that famous ancient musicians would have been able to play for Faustus.

What are 2.2 and 3.2 in this retelling are in the A-text one scene featuring Robin and Rafe.

Many modern editors, following Bevington and Rasmussen (see next paragraph), use the first part of the scene featuring Robin and Rafe to break up the long scene featuring Faustus and Mephastophilis.

Doctor Faustus A- and B- texts (1604, 1616): Christopher Marlowe and his collaborator and revisers. Edited by David Bevington and Eric Rasmussen. Manchester; New York: Manchester University Press; New York, NY, USA: Distributed by St. Martin’s Press, 1993.

The name “Rafe” is often modernized to “Ralph.”

Some editors think that the Clown in 1.4 is Robin.

Some editors think that Wagner is the Chorus.

The A-Text is not divided into Acts and Scenes. Some editors divide it into Acts and Scenes; some editors divide it into Scenes only.



[Chorus 1]

The Chorus now introduces this book to the audience:

“You will not find in this book soldiers marching now in the battlefield by Lake Thrasymenus, where Mars, god of war, allied himself with the Carthaginians, whose general, Hannibal, defeated the Romans.

“You will not find in this book lovers sporting in the frivolity of love, in courts of kings where government is overturned.

“You will not find in this book the pomp of proud audacious deeds.

“No, not for these themes does our Muse — the poet and playwright Christopher Marlowe — intend to control and caress his Heavenly verse: the high style of tragedy.

“You will find in this book only this, gentlemen and ladies: We must perform the form of Faustus’ fortunes, good or bad.

“To patient judgments we appeal for our applause and speak about Faustus in his infancy.

“Now is he born, his parents base of stock, in Germany, within a town called Stadtroda. When he is of riper years, to Wittenberg — the university of Hamlet and Martin Luther — he goes, where his kinsmen chiefly bring him up.

“So quickly he profits in theology and graces the fruitful plot of intellectual pursuits that shortly he is graced with a doctorate and called Doctor, excelling all who have found sweet delight in disputes concerning Heavenly matters of theology, until his head becomes swollen with misapplied knowledge. Then he with his waxen wings mounts above his reach like Icarus flying too near the Sun, and the Heavens that melted his wings conspire his overthrow, because having fallen into a devilish exercise, and having glutted himself more with learning’s golden gifts, he surfeits upon the cursed black magic of necromancy.

“Nothing is as sweet as magic to him, magic that he prefers before his chiefest bliss — his hope of Paradise after death — and this is the man, Doctor Faustus, who is sitting in his study.”

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