What is the role of the comic scenes in Dr Faustus? Comic scenes in Doctor Faustus.

Comic scenes in Doctor Faustus

Comic scenes are introduced in tragedy to give relief to the audience. The chief purpose of the comic scenes is to offer a temporary relaxation of tension engendered by the serious scenes.

The comic scenes in Doctor Faustus deserve particular attention. The first comic scene which we come across in the play is scene IV of Act I, where Wagner and the Clown are engrossed in a debate. Their discussion should be treated as a comic parallel to the main plot providing a parody of Faustus’s pact with the Devil, starting with Wagner’s offer of a shoulder of raw mutton to the Clown as a bribe to take service with him.

The appearance of the Seven Deadly Sins in scene II of Act II is also meant to serve as a comic relief. The scene all along is in a serious tone. But Marlowe was keen on diversifying the serious element by bringing in comic scenes.

Scene I of Act III is also a comic scene where Faustus teases and troubles the Pope and his party. This scene has a special importance for it reveals Marlowe’s extreme contempt for the Pope and the pomp and splendour of his court.

The Ralph-Robin episode in first and second scenes of Act IV is in all probability interpolations. They have no connection with the main theme of the play. But the portrayal of the realistic character in Ralph and Robin is significant.

Scene IV of Act IV, is another comic scene where Faustus meets the horse-courser. The pulling off of the leg of Faustus and other such incidents supply very cheap jokes. They can only please the groundlings.

An analysis of all the comic scenes of Doctor Faustus reveals to us that there is little of humour in the scenes. Where Shakespeare’s clowns are made to speak philosophical words in the form of humour, Marlowe’s humorous figures can only utter light joke. There is not a single sentence spoken by any character in the play, which reveals subtle humour. This had led critics to conclude that Marlowe had no sense of humour.

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