The Alchemist (Johnson): Act 2, Scene 4

Summary of Act 2, scene 4

Subtle, Face and Doll congratulate themselves on their successes. They are playing their victims like so many fish on the line. They make fun of Surly as “Monsieur Caution that will not be gulled” (line 15), but don’t feel he is a threat. They look out the window to see Ananais, the Anabaptist, coming. They speak of selling Mammon’s goods to him. They quickly change disguises and Subtle decides on a “new tune, new gesture, but old language” (line 28). They decide they will try to sell Mammon’s goods that he brought to be turned into gold to the Anabaptist. They change disguises.
Commentary on Act 2, scene 4

Curiosity arises as to why someone in a religious sect would be visiting an alchemist. The audience knows Surly is more of a threat than the crooks do. This adds suspense and makes the conspirators open to tasting their own medicine, especially with Surly’s threat of returning in disguise.