Read the following passage from Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus. Discuss Marlowe’s use of language in the passage and how it contributes to the characterisation of Faustus and the Horse-Courser.
We have been asked to look at Marlowe’s play Doctor Faustus, in particular Act 4, Scene 1, where
Doctor Faustus deals with the horse-courser (horse dealer). The play is written mainly in blank verse, every normal line having ten syllables, (Pacheo, 2008, p35) also the main characters are written in verse with the lower class speaking in prose This scene is slightly different to normal, displaying two sets of emotions, Faustus reflective and the horse-courser excitable and showing lack of respect.
Leading up to this scene Faustus is making his way back home and is stopped by the horse-courser who wants to buy Faustus’s horse. Faustus sells the horse to him for forty dollars warning him not to ride the horse into water and becomes indignant when the horse-course suggests he may be a vet.
After he has gone Faustus sits and contemplates his forthcoming fate giving a soliloquy in which he
Gives the audience an insight into what he is feeling questioning what he has done but in the end shows a reluctant and tired acceptance of his fate.
‘Thy fatal time doth draw to final end./Despair doth drive distrust unto my thoughts. (4.1 ln. 144-145)
Marlowe uses alliteration which gives the line more effect, showing his doubt but then thinks if he
Sleeps he will feel better saying:
‘Tush! Christ did call the thief upon the cross,/Then rest thee, Faustus, quiet in conceit’ ( 4.1. ln. 147-
148) referring to the crucifixion and Christ promising one of the thieves salvation.
He has no sooner settled down to sleep when the horse-courser comes rushing in soaking wet. This scene is rather comical because, thinking Faustus was trying to hide something from him, had ridden
the horse into the middle of the town pond, only for the horse to turn into a bundle of hay.
’for he bade me I should/ride him into no water. Now I, thinking my horse/had had some rare quality that he would not have/had me known of, I, like a venturous youth ,rid him/into the deep pond at the town’s end. I was no/sooner in the middle of the pond but my horse/vanished away and I sat upon a bottle of hay,’ (4.1.ln 153-159).
He wanted his money back because he felt he had been tricked and he calls Faustus’s servant a ‘snipper-snapper’ (someone who is too big for his boots). The horse-courser’s use of language is in the form of everyday speech and the lines are run on lines without any punctuation at the end of the lines whereas the speech Faustus makes has full stops at the end of the lines except line 147 which has a semi-colon. The audience sees Faustus starting to doubt himself but also shows his arrogance thinking that God would spare him. (479 words)
Pacheco, A. (2008) ‘Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus’, AA100, Book 1, Chapter 2.
Marlowe, C. (2003 Doctor Faustus: The A text (ed. J. O’Connor), London, Pearson Longman.
TUTOR'S COMMENTS AND ADVICE TO STUDENT:
*The student experienced difficulties and a short extension was agreed until 10 March.
A good essay with an intelligent approach to the question. You have certainly drawn out some key points and attempted some close reading of the lines. You need to work a little more on the effects of the stylistic features that you have noted eg: in Faustus's lines. The essay shows 'mostly accurate knowledge and understanding of relevant concepts, ideas and terminology covered in the module materials' (Grade Band 55-69).
Part 2 is a 'close reading exercise', intended 'to test your ability to understand and discuss a short section of the play and its use of language'.