Study Guide

Doctor Faustus Act 3, Scene 1

By Christopher Marlowe

Act 3, Scene 1

  • Faustus gives the scoop on his journey to Rome, telling how he traveled over Trier, France, the Rhine River, Naples, the tomb of Vergil, Venice, and Padua.
  • Then, to Mephistopheles, he's all, dude, where are we? To which Meph tells him: duh, Rome.
  • Mephistopheles explains the geography of Rome—how it stands on seven hills with the Tiber River running through it, and how a palace upon the Angelo Bridge sits next to the gates and pyramids that Julius Caesar brought there from Africa. Sounds kind of like Vegas.
  • Faustus really wants to let loose and see the sights, but Mephistopheles thinks he should stay where he is in order to catch the Pope's procession and feast.
  • Faustus agrees, but tells Mephistopheles that he wants to be an "actor" in the Pope's show. Geez, someone's a diva.
  • Mephistopheles agrees, and they make a plan to humiliate the Pope and all his devout buddies. 
  • The cardinals of France and Padua, bishops, monks, and friars enter in a procession, followed by Pope Adrian, King Raymond of Hungary, and the Archbishop of Rheims.
  • They lead a man named Bruno in chains. 
  • The Pope makes Bruno get down on his hands and knees, then uses his back to mount into his carrier-chair. Classy.
  • Bruno remarks that the Pope's position actually belongs to him.
  • Then the Pope commands the cardinals to go to his library and read what the Council of Trent says is punishment for the one who unlawfully claims the Pope's position.
  • Under Faustus's orders, Mephistopheles follows the cardinals and makes them fall asleep before they can carry out the Pope's orders. Then he tells everyone his plan: he wants to free Bruno. Bruno reminds the Pope that he was elected by the Emperor.
  • Oh really? Says the Pope. Well then he'll just have to excommunicate the emperor, maybe even dethrone him while he's at it. The emperor is too big for his britches anyway.
  • But, Bruno reminds the Pope, a prior pope, Julius, swore to hold the emperors as their lawful lords.
  • The Pope counters that Julius overstepped his bounds in doing so, so his decree isn't valid anyways. In short, bully for you, Bruno! 
  • He shows Bruno his seven seals, which is another way of saying, can't touch this, Bruno. 
  • And then he has the nerve to threaten Bruno with his curse.
  • Enter Faustus and Mephistopheles, dressed as the Cardinals of France and Padua. Oh, trouble's a'brewin'.
  • The Pope asks these—ahem—Cardinals what they have decided about Bruno's punishment.
  • Faustus answers that Bruno and the German emperor should be considered heretics and disturbers of the Church's peace. Basically, it's time to burn them.
  • So the Pope hands over Bruno to Faustus and Mephistopheles. He tells them to take the poor guy to a prison tower, and tells everyone that tomorrow, he'll pass judgment on the heretic. 
  • Faustus and Mephistopheles leave with Bruno; the Pope says it's time to party and calls for a banquet to celebrate his victory with King Raymond of Hungary.