This sample essay on Who Is Mephistopheles reveals arguments and important aspects of this topic. Read this essay’s introduction, body paragraphs and the conclusion below.
Mephistopheles as a ‘victim’ and we are able to blame any fault in his actions on Lucifer, thus seeing Mephistopheles in a more ‘innocent’ light. It could be argued that Marlowe portrays Mephistopheles as striking from the very moment we are introduced to him. As soon as he enters, Faustus is so shocked and disgusted by Mephistopheles appearance that he states thou art too ugly to attend on me.
Go, and return an old Franciscan friar’. Here Marlowe has taken the opportunity to make an anti-Catholic Jibe at the alleged corruption of friars and this Is further emphasized hen Faustus illogically asserts that holy shape becomes a devil best’.
This can be considered as even more striking as it is unsettling to consider the idea that a devil can take on any shape or form, especially one who appears as innocent and comforting as a friar.
In this way, as well as making a mockery of the Catholic church, Marlowe is able to make Mephistopheles appear even more striking to an audience who lived In the ‘century of reformation’ yet still believed In, and feared, the supernatural. This Idea Is further developed with Mephistopheles’ first line in the lay ‘Now. Faustus, what wouldst thou have me do? ‘.
It is interesting to note that these first words were also the first words that SST Paul spoke to Christ on the road to Damascus, as reported in ‘Acts 9.
6′ and thus this makes for a very interesting contrast. One could interpret Marlowe use of this striking resemblance as an attempt to outline the Idea that Mephistopheles Is merely acting as though he Is doing Faustus’ bidding but Is actually manipulating Faustus Into thinking he has the better end of the agreement when really, unlike SST Paul and Christ, it is Faustus who eventually becomes the ‘disciple’ of Mephistopheles and ultimately, Lucifer.
Mephistopheles can also be considered to be striking as his explanation of hell contradicts the typical Medieval belief of a physical place of torment. He explains that thinks thou that l, who saw the face of God… Am not tormented with ten thousand hells, In being deprived of everlasting bliss? And a striking sense of regret is revealed In Mephistopheles as he announces that after ‘tasting the eternal Joys of heaven’, anything in comparison is hell. This image of hell, regarding Mephistopheles, is tricking in itself. It is portrayed chaotically as inescapable and thus evokes fear from the audience from a safe perspective.
In Act 1 Scene 3, Mephistopheles replies to a question from Faustus about who or What’ he is, he answers ‘Unhappy spirits that fell with Lucifer. Conspired against our God with Lucifer. And are for ever damned with Ulcer. By stopping can sentence Walt n ten word ‘Ulcer’ , Marlowe portrays ten Idea that Mephistopheles is trapped by Lucifer (and hell) and that he will never reach beyond them both. Through using this apostrophe, we also gain a sense of the gothic element of eternity- Mephistopheles will never be free of his suffering.
Mephistopheles, further on in the play, emphasizes this idea and describes hell as Where we are tortured and remain forever… Hell hath no limits’ and issues yet another striking warning to Faustus -which he chooses to ignore- whilst Marlowe continues to blur this life and the afterlife with his descriptions of Faustus inevitable fate. Some critics have considered Mephistopheles to be warning Faustus, ‘O Faustus, leave this frivolous demands, which strike a terror to my fainting soul’ and hush consider Marlowe to be portraying him as a friend who is himself ‘struck at the thought of Faustus suffering the same fate as he.
Later on in the play, when Mephistopheles returns from Lucifer, he honestly tells Faustus that, as with ‘ambitious earthly monarchs’, Lucifer aim is territorial expansion and warns Faustus that he will receive more than he bargained for. The idea of Mephistopheles striking “friendship’, which on the surface appears genuine, is also explored when Faustus requests a wife. However, Mephistopheles cannot oblige and tries to put him off ‘l Ritchie, talk not of a wife’. In the sixteenth century, there were no civil marriages and so the word Wife’ carried with it the association of the Church and holy matrimony.
He instead substitutes a ‘devil dressed like a woman, with fireworks and by doing this it could be suggested that he is warning Faustus that he will be denied the blessing of a lifetime companion and only have superficial relationships with ‘courtesans’ if he embarks upon a deal with Lucifer. We can also gain a sense of friendship from Faustus’ view, he refers to Mephistopheles as ‘sweet’ and although this is can be noninsured to be an oxymoron, Faustus is consistently clear about his portrayal of Mephistopheles. On numerous occasions he seeks comfort in Mephistopheles, When Mephistopheles shall stand by me, what God can hurt thee Faustus? ND in both this example and Faustus final words ‘Ah! Mephistopheles’, strikingly, one finds that Faustus is only able to renounce God and accept his fate, when Mephistopheles is there to guide him. This interpretation, however, can also be understood in terms of Mephistopheles and his striking devilish characteristics and thus him being a manipulative tempter’. This supports the idea that the play is written in the form of a ‘morality play which were popular in England around the late Middle Ages and which told stories about the progress of the soul and humanity relationship with virtue and temptation.
As Faustus experiences the ‘staying of blood’ when he attempts to sign his contract with Lucifer, it is Mephistopheles who brings a ‘chafer of coals’ to liquefy the blood once more. He even goes on to state ‘O what will not I do to obtain his soul? Which suggests both desperation and deceit. When Faustus consequently species a diving message ‘Homologue’, Mephistopheles distracts him from repentance and tempts Faustus with political power, symbolized by crowns, and wealth and luxury, symbolized by rich apparel.
It also is interesting that once Faustus has signed the contract, Mephistopheles contradicts his earlier descriptions of heaven and tries to reassure Faustus that heaven is not ‘such a glorious thing as he imagines in an attempt to stop him from repenting. Although Faustus wants to learn by experience, and asks to see Rome, Mephistopheles distracts him by suggesting some fun at the pope’s expense- justly corrupting Faustus Teller Telling. I Nils travel Detonator pushes Faustus to believe that he is too far gone’ for forgiveness from God and thus further exemplifies the striking, manipulative characteristic within Mephistopheles.
He also urges Faustus to commit the ultimate sin (suicide) by handing him a dagger in hopes that he will die and so put himself beyond hope of salvation. It is actions like these which seem to contradict any ideas of friendship’ between the two characters, however, because Mephistopheles is influenced ultimately by Lucifer, Marlowe may eve been trying to suggest that if Mephistopheles weren’t so corrupt and tortured by hell, he would maintain his previous attitude and continue to warn Faustus.
This can also be supported by the idea that Faustus was condemned from the very beginning of the play. When Mephistopheles does warn Faustus of hell, Marlowe uses anaphora and repeats the words ‘me’ and ‘l’ when describing all of the things he will do with his new powers. This shows Faustus to completely disregard Mephistopheles warning (despite no manipulation from Mephistopheles) and the responding sentence structure in a sequence of clauses shows Faustus to be ‘gushing and completely, selfishly caught up by the gothic element of being driven by some all-consuming passion.
Marlowe further developed this idea by using references to the sin ‘gluttony, for example words such as ‘sweet’, ‘glutted’ and ‘surfeits’. This serves to give the impression of a ‘gorged’ ‘renaissance ideal’, which few people of the era were considered to be, and thus demonstrates to the audience that by knowing too much’, one can lose their sense of Judgment- again making Faustus ate appear inevitable- for instance when he perceives the seven deadly sins to feed my soul’ and describes ‘O how happy I were then’ as opposed to feeling repulsed and fearing them.
Farm supported this idea and suggested that Mephistopheles ‘appears because he senses in Faustus magical summons, that Faustus is already corrupt, that indeed he is already in danger to be damned nonetheless’. And so, if Faustus is shown to be ‘in danger to be damned nonetheless’, Mephistopheles cannot be considered as a ‘striking tempter’; he was merely doing his Job.