The Alchemist (Jonson): Act 5, Scene 3

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Act 5, Scene 3

Summary of Act 5, scene 3
 
Surly and Mammon try to get in, claiming fraud in the house, but Face as Jeremy denies them entrance and Lovewit backs him up. Then Kestrel comes looking for his sister. The Anabaptists arrive, with Ananais calling Lovewit “Satan.” Jeremy claims everyone is insane, but the neighbors recognize the people as the same ones who have been coming to the house. Suddenly Dapper, whom everyone has forgotten for a long time, cries out from the privy. He had been waiting for his aunt, the Queen of Fairy, to receive him with a gag of gingerbread in his mouth. It dissolved and unable to bear the stench of the toilet, he cries aloud. Jeremy-Face finally admits he is caught, as Lovewit demands an explanation. He throws himself on his master’s mercy and admits his schemes but offers to give him the rich widow. Lovewit asks to see her.
 
Commentary on Act 5, scene 3
 
This is slapstick with all the characters showing up and demanding satisfaction in their own language. Ananais calls Lovewit “Satan” and the widow a “harlot” (lines 54 and 52). Kestrel uses his skills at insult and threatens. Face knows he is beaten and tries to make one last deal with his master. He’ll arrange for him to get the widow! Once again he is pimping but the master goes for it. This is done behind the back of the Doctor and Doll Common, proving that Face is the one who can remain on his feet after all. Subtle’s voice heard within an inner room convinces Lovewit along with Dapper’s appearance that something is wrong. All the customers at once are crying fraud and wanting the constable. When Face betrays his former colleagues to save himself, he triumphs as a survivor and the biggest con-artist. There is truly no honor among thieves.
 
 

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