The Modern Dr. Faustus 

The supernatural has always been a mysterious thing to the human mind, both back in history and even in the present. Numerous stories have been written pertaining to this topic, bringing to life demons, angels, and monsters alike. One often retold story is Doctor Faustus, where a human and demon made a binding contract at the expense of a soul. There have been many renditions of the legend of Faust, however, Marlowe’s inspiration came from the German work, “Faustbuch” otherwise known as the “Faust Book” translated in English.

This work was published in 1587. It can be said that this particular work is, “a distinctive product of [then] post-Reformation Germany, with its anxieties about magic and religion, knowledge and salvation”.

The Faust Book’s main premise was to preach and echo the teachings of the ruling majority – the church. It warned the reader to obey God’s will at all times and set a standard of morals that should be followed.

Throughout the work, there are multiple mentions of praise and justification towards the church’s teachings. Marlowe, on the other hand, decided to challenge the Faust Book’s original church-centered ideology and instead focused from a Humanistic perspective. You are the choices that you make. In Marlowe’s rendition, the reader is given the opportunity to judge Faustus based on their own morals rather than just the church’s.

Marlowe’s work starts by introducing Doctor Faustus who is a well-respected German scholar. He’s grown dissatisfied with the traditional forms of knowledge such as—logic, medicine, law, and religion.

Get quality help now
Prof. Finch

Proficient in: Contract

4.7 (346)

“ This writer never make an mistake for me always deliver long before due date. Am telling you man this writer is absolutely the best. ”

+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

Therefore he decides to dabble in the art of necromancy or magic. His friends Valdes and Cornelius teach him the basics of the black arts, and he begins his new life as a magician. While messing around with summoning circles, Faustus accidentally summons a demon named Mephistophilis. Once present, Mephistophilis tries to dissuade Faustus from making a contract by scaring him with the horrors of hell. Nevertheless, Faustus tells the demon to return to his master Lucifer, with the message that Faustus is willing to relinquish his soul in exchange for twenty-four years of service from Mephistophilis. While in his study, Faustus starts having inner conflict within himself in the form of a Good and Bad Angel.

Mephistophilis then returns to Faustus bearing the news that Lucifer has accepted Faustus’ offer. Faustus proceeds to sign the contract despite various omens appearing warning him not to. Once contracted with Mephistophilis, Faustus begins to have second thoughts, at which Faustus starts to beg forgiveness from God and repent after the Good Angel urges him to. In an attempt to divert his attention elsewhere, Mephistophilis and Lucifer bring personifications of the Seven Deadly Sins to appear in front of him, quieting his doubts.

With his new powers and Mephistophilis at hand, Faustus begins to travel. The two go to Rome and enter the Pope’s private chambers. They make themselves invisible and play a series of tricks on him and a couple of friars. After Rome, Faustus is invited to the court of the German emperor, Charles V. Here Faustus is asked to conjure up an image of Alexander The Great for the emperor. Faustus does what is asked and Charles is very impressed. A knight, however, scoffs at Faustus’s powers. In accordance, Faustus decides to make horns come out of his head which made the knight very upset. Faustus continues on his travels and plays a trick on a horse-courser along the way. Faustus sells the courser a horse under the premise that he must never ride it into water. The horse-courser appears later entering Faustus’ study claiming that Faustus had conned him due to the horse turning into a heap of hay while in the middle of a pond.

Faustus sends the horse-courser on his way. Following this incident, Faustus is invited to the Duke of Vanholt’s manor and asked to perform a series of parlor tricks – such as making fresh grapes appear in winter. Faustus then returns to his study and on the request of his scholar friends he creates an image of Helen of Troy. As the end of his twenty-four years draws close, Faustus begins to fear his near death. As time is ticking, Faustus tells his friends about his situation and they pray for him. On the final night, Faustus too scared for his life and begins to beg for mercy however it is too late. At exactly midnight, a horde of demons appear and carry his soul to hell. There is a vast variety of pop culture that reference back to Marlowe’s famous work, Doctor Faustus. Such examples can be seen through the use of anime which oftentimes takes on a supernatural fantasy route with its use of various storylines and characters. An example of this genre is Black Butler.

Black Butler portrays the adventures of the Queen’s Watchdog, Earl Ciel Phantomhive alongside his demon butler, Sebastian Michaelis. They take on cases of great importance or deemed threatening to England itself and the crown. While fulfilling his duties to the crown Ciel also seeks revenge on those who killed his family and ruined his family name relinquishing his own soul to a demon in order to execute it. Black Butler uses the idea of a Faustian contract throughout the series as a major plot point. A Faustian contract can be described as a bargain between a human and a demon. Both parties are linked together on the premise that the latter offers specific services while answering the human’s wish, and thus rewarded with the human’s soul as payment only after the contract has been fulfilled.

In Black Butler, two different demon contract dynamics are being presented in the first two seasons. A majority of the show focuses on Ciel Phantomhive and his demon butler Sebastian Michaelis, as they are the main characters. Season 2 on the other hand, introduces the new characters Alois Trancy and the demon butler Claude Faustus. Although both Ciel and Alois have been able to successfully form Faustian contracts with their respectful demons, these two individuals are treated on different scales by their demons. In Season 1 Episode 2, Ciel is following a drug-smuggling ring run by the Italian Mafia and ends up getting kidnapped by the Mafia’s leader. Sebastian then arrives to rescue Ciel at which the leader tries to recruit Sebastian as a bodyguard since he defeated all of the Mafia’s forces in order to reach Ciel. Sebastian declines, however, stating at minute 21:03-21:12, “As long as my young master holds the contract.

I am his loyal lapdog. I am bound to my master by a sacrifice, a wish, and a contract. Until the day I take his soul”. This statement showcases Sebastian’s devotion to his master. Episode 4 shows Ciel investigating a serial murder case where the victims are young women who have all recently gone through abortions. In order to gather information, Ciel goes undercover as a girl and attends a party hosted by a possible suspect. While there he purposely catches the attention of the host, gets knocked unconscious and then almost sold in an unground auction. Ciel then calls Sebastian for help and the two discuss in further detail the importance of a Faustian contract for both parties from minute 20:38-20:57. Ciel states, “As long as I have the contract, you’ll follow me anywhere with or without my summons”. Sebastian answers, “ A ‘contract’ is a mark demons place on their prey to keep track of it.

The more noticeable a place you put it, the more executable it is”. Ciel retorts by saying, “In exchange, the prey can never escape the demon”. In essence, this conversation reiterates, the contract between a human master and demon is legally binding until the wish is fulfilled. Episode 6 shows Ciel still following the murder case closely. In the end, the culprit turns out to be his aunt Madam Red with the help of her now discovered inhuman grim reaper butler, Grell. She went on this rampage due to her frustration with these women for not valuing the blessing of a baby when she herself could no longer have one of her own. Madam Red tries to kill Ciel however falls back due to her maternal affection towards him. This, however, disappoints Grell greatly and thus forces him to kill Red due to her failing his expectations and maintaining her resolve. On her grave, Ciel recounts Madam Red’s death at 20:46-20:49, “One wrong move cost a person her death. It’s just like chess”.

In that light, he makes a declaration that he will never hesitate.  With this declaration, at minute 20:56-21:24, Sebastian starts an inner monologue expressing his gratefulness that his master is not crushed by his relative’s death. “That’s what I like to hear. Always skillfully, manipulate your chess pieces, and survive. Use me, and Madam Red, and any other pieces within your reach. Even if the bodies of your pawns pile up at the foot of your throne….because if the king falls, this game is over”. Sometime later in the episode, Ciel ends Sebastian’s monologue by further stating that he will never stop moving, in other words, regret any of the decisions he’s made up until this point. Towards the end of the episode, at 21:49- 22:17, Sebastian once again expresses his awe in Ciel’s clear indifference towards Madam’s death. “ I shall accompany you anywhere you wish me to. Even if your throne crumbles, your radiant crown rots and a mountain of bodies pile up….

I shall stay beside your small form as you lie atop your fallen pawns until I hear the final call”. Despite experiencing extreme difficulties and the frailty of life firsthand, Ciel remains unblemished from the world without showing a moment of weakness. Thus making him the ideal soul for demons. Alois, in contrast, is a whole another story starting with his relationship with his butler Claude. Although going through much of the same level of difficulty in life as Ciel, Alois is virtually much more emotionally unstable to the point of being bipolar in a sense. One minute he could be crying the next he’s yelling at his servants including Claude. In Season 2 Episode 8, Ciel is at Alois’ manor on a private invitation. Ciel in the previous episode has discovered that Alois was the one who ordered Ciel’s house to be burned thus killing his parents.

The two have a duel and Ciel stabs Alois in the stomach mortally injuring him. The following day, Alois requests his maid to take him to Ciel’s house but they get into an accident. While dying, Claude appears and out of fear Alois asks him not to leave him behind. He states from 20:38-21:11, “ You’re the only one left in my world”. Claude responds, “Such words for a mere butler. Don’t worry my master. I cannot possibly feel hungry looking at a low-class soul that offers his love to a mere butler.” Following this, Claude kills Alois and again speaks, “I will keep you by my side. Your soul will be useful for me”. This is a sharp contrast compared to Ciel and Sebastian’s master-demon relationship. Although both Ciel and Alois are virtually still children their individual mental aptitudes are on completely different levels. Alois showed visible affection and weakness thus lowering the value of his soul, in other words, his overall worth as a being. Ciel almost never shows his weakness regardless of the situation thus making him a demon’s ideal feast. Despite how long ago Marlowe wrote Doctor Faustus, his work remains relevant with its characters and storyline still being used even in our present entertainment culture.

Cite this page

The Modern Dr. Faustus . (2022, Feb 26). Retrieved from

Let’s chat?  We're online 24/7