Faust

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Faust Part 2: Act 4: The Anti-Emperor’s Tent Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Two of Faust’s Three Mighty Men enter the Anti-Emperor’s tent, which is piled up with wealth. They try to take little chests full of gold, but even these are all absurdly heavy. Several of the Emperor’s bodyguards enter and denounce the two Mighty Men as thieves, who in turn take what they can and clear out. The guards wonder why they didn’t attack the two Mighty Men, and wonder also why these two were somewhat ghost-like.
The abundance of gold in the Anti-Emperor’s tent both suggests how abysmal the Emperor himself is at creating prosperity for his people (all his money is wasted on wine, we might think) and also how leaders selfishly hoard wealth for themselves. The Emperor’s guards seem unaware that the war was won through magic.
Themes
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Politics Theme Icon
The Emperor enters with four princes. He is overjoyed that his army has won, regardless of the means. He gives high titles to the princes—Arch-Marshal, Arch-Cupbearer, and the like—and he grants them, along with the Chancellor-Archbishop (who enters during these proceedings), fine estates and authority subordinate only to his own. The four secular princes exit.
The Emperor misguidedly promotes all the advisers who celebrated when the paper money was fatally circulated. These men have bad judgment, and yet they only continue to rise in power. No real recovery for the Emperor’s realm seems likely.
Themes
Politics Theme Icon
The Chancellor-Archbishop remains. He is gravely concerned that the Emperor conspired with Satan to achieve his magical victory, and worries that the Pope will consequently destroy the Emperor’s sinful realm. The Emperor says he will do anything to repent, and the Archbishop tells him to build a great cathedral and also to give gold to the Church, as well as donating building materials and laborers. The Emperor consents, and in his capacity as Chancellor his subordinate tells him that he’ll settle the details.
The Chancellor-Archbishop speaks as though he were a pious critic of the Emperor’s Satanic alliance, but he is actually interested in consolidating his power and that of the Church as much as possible, going so far as to take advantage of a bloody crisis to do so. This is unchristian conduct in the extreme.
Themes
Politics Theme Icon
Finally, the Chancellor-Archbishop reminds the Emperor that he granted Faust the Empire’s coasts to rule as a feudal lord. The Archbishop demands for the Church the tithes, rents, dues, and taxes from this land as well. The Emperor responds with annoyance that this land doesn’t even exist yet, since it’s only high sea still. The Chancellor-Archbishop nonetheless insists, then exits. Alone, the Emperor sighs that, at this rate, he’ll soon have signed his entire realm away.
It is ironic that to secure power over his kingdom, the Emperor gives most of it away and subjects what remains to exorbitant taxation. He sighs that he has signed his realm away, overlooking the much more important fact that he has totally failed the people he governs.
Themes
Politics Theme Icon
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