The Alchemist (Jonson): Act 5, Scene 4
Act 5, Scene 4
Summary of Act 5, scene 4
This scene happens in another room, with the scams continuing, even as the master is in the front room. Doll enters as the Queen of Fairy to meet her “nephew,” Dapper. She pretends to give him a spirit to help him when he gambles, and he is happy. He promises to share his winnings with them. Drugger comes in with the Spanish suit as Face told him to. He is then told to go find a parson. Face takes the suit and Subtle thinks he means to woo the widow for himself, so he tells Doll they should take revenge by leaving with the goods and not meet Face as planned to divide the profit. Face finds Doll and Subtle kissing and tells them that everything is going well; he does not tell them about his master finding out their scam. Subtle tells Doll to try to get as much money out of the widow as she can before they leave. The three of them count their profits together before Face finally admits the game is up. To save themselves Subtle and Doll will have to go out the back door quickly and over the wall. They are able to take nothing with them and curse Face, who is left triumphant.
Commentary on Act 5, scene 4
Doll calls Dame Pliant “a good dull innocent” (line 69). She remains the only prize yet unclaimed as all fight over her, unknown to Doll. Subtle decides to pair up with Doll and take his revenge on Face by taking the booty without meeting him as they promised to do at the end of Act 4. They were to leave the house and meet at a tavern to split it three ways. Doll agrees and goes off to get more money and jewels from Pliant when Face comes in and catches their kiss. He plays with them a little longer before letting them know the game is up. The only break he gives them is to let them escape before they are caught. They go empty-handed. Face ends in control, and Subtle and Doll are victims of a scam in their turn. Face says he will give Doll letters of recommendation “to Mistress Amo” (line 143) and will send a customer to Subtle “now and then for old acquaintance” (line 147).