The Alchemist (Jonson): Act 4, Scene 1

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Summary of Act 4, scene 1

 
Face tells Mammon all his goods are ready for projection—to be changed into gold. Mammon is also back, to be introduced to the mad lady, the lord’s sister who has studied too much theology (Doll in disguise). He is cautioned not to mention anything about divinity; it could set her off. Mammon flatters Doll, but she acts reserved like a lady. Face has to leave the lovers in order to laugh at Mammon’s extravagant declarations to the prostitute he believes is a lady. Doll explains she is studying mathematics with the “Doctor.” Face comes back to tell the couple they make too much noise. The Doctor (Subtle) will hear them while he is trying to project the gold. He asks them to go to a different part of the house, thus throwing them together.
 
Commentary on Act 4, scene 1.
 
This scene with Mammon wooing Doll in alchemical language is very funny. Face ushers them into a private room so they can complete their transaction. Mammon swears Doll “shall feel gold, taste gold, hear gold, sleep gold” (line 28). Even more telling than the sexual innuendo of this conversation is Mammon’s illusion that he is “the lord of the philosopher’s stone” (line 121) and he proclaims Doll “the lady” (line 122). He claims that he is “the master of the mastery” (line 124), implying that Subtle is but his servant. When Doll worries they could go to prison for such practices, he blusters that they will have so much money they can live “In a free state” (line 157). Mammon is obviously poised for a fall. Face, as we are told, is a pimp, and he seems to be running a side game with Doll besides the main swindle of Mammon’s goods and money.
 

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