The Alchemist (Jonson): Act 5, Scene 5

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Summary of Act 5, scene 5

 
Lovewit enters in Spanish dress with the parson, showing he is the winner of the prize widow. Just then officers knock looking for the crooks. Lovewit, already married, takes off his costume and opens the door. Mammon, Surly, Kestrel, Tribulation, and Ananais enter with the officers, babbling about being victims.
 
Lovewit commands the officers to control this riot. They are in his house and he tells them to search if they please. His butler has told him that he let the house to a doctor and captain who are now gone. Only a widow remained in the house, and he has married her. Surly is upset at losing the prize, but Lovewit tells him he lost his chance to take her in the garden. Mammon says his goods are stolen and wants to retrieve them from the basement. Lovewit says he cannot let the goods go unless they go to court, and Mammon proves he was cheated of them. Mammon says he would rather lose the goods. Surly vows revenge on Face, and Face, now dressed as Jeremy the butler, says that he will send word if he meets him. The Anabaptists then try to claim the goods but Lovewit says he will cudgel them if they don’t get out of his house. Drugger enters ready to claim his bride in the Spanish suit but finds he is too late. Finally Kestrel and Dame Pliant appear and Kestrel abuses his sister for her hasty marriage. Lovewit begins to quarrel with him by pulling out his sword. This delights Kestrel who came to London on purpose to fight. He decides he is so happy with his new brother-in-law that he gives the bride 500 pounds more. Lovewit tells Jeremy, “I will be ruled by thee in anything” (line 143).
 
Commentary on Act 5, scene 5
 
The comic twist at the end pairs up man and master in a new but more respectable team for swindles. Lovewit gets the rich bride, a basement of booty, and a clever servant with lots of ideas on how to make money. He doesn’t mind overlooking Jeremy’s behavior since he got “such happiness by a servant” (line 147). His young wife and Jeremy’s brain will “Stretch age’s truth” (line 157). We learn in this last scene that Lovewit is older, a widower who will thrive with a young wife and someone like Jeremy who will not only make him rich, but who will also amuse him.
 
Mammon is too ashamed to go to court and declare he was made a fool of. Lovewit’s quick thinking on his feet secures the woman and the goods. He goads Surly with hesitating to take Pliant when he had the chance. He is as smooth as his man, although one wonders about his lack of moral consideration. He and Jeremy are a perfect match, though the master gives the man credit for the superior wit.
 
 
 
 

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