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Published: 13-10-2019

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Dr. Faustus vs Mephastophilis: Struggle of Opposites

Throughout the course of The Tragical History of Medical professional Faustus, a complex relationship develops among Dr. Faustus and the devil Mephastophilis that can be characterized by Faustus’ total dependence on his counterpart and a mutual sense of possessiveness that inadvertently reveals the despair and longing of Mephastophilis. The pact that Faustus tends to make with Lucifer is comparable to a dark ceremony of matrimony that binds Mephastophilis to Faustus as a servant, “I, John Faustus…do give each body and soul to Lucifer…and his servant Mephastophilis,”(Scene V/ Lines 104-106). The devil is a servant with a certain degree of authority over his master, nevertheless, because he is the source of the man’s power, and with the lines of influence blurred, the two characters develop on a single one more and bring the inherent sentimentality of their personalities to the surface. It is this imbalance of energy amongst Faustus and Mephastophilis that affects the dynamic of the play most straight.

Even though Mephastophilis is technically defined as Faustus’ servant in the contract, Faustus is totally reliant on the devil, since he is powerless with out him. The medical doctor himself realizes that Mephastophilis is an crucial conduit for his powers as he states, “By him (Mephastophilis) I’ll be wonderful emperor of the globe,” (III/ 104) rather of saying that he would rule totally of his personal volition. It is also Faustus’ hellish partner who performs every one particular of the mortal’s feats of magic. When the physician desires to harass the pope, he is in a position to do so only since Mephastophilis tends to make him invisible, and Faustus is capable to summon Alexander the Fantastic and grapes in winter due to the fact he has a devil at his side not due to the fact he has unique powers or abilities. Faustus’ reliance on his partner trivializes his pact with Lucifer, simply because primarily the man sold his soul in exchange for the limited service of a devil as opposed to the grandiose aspirations he had in his opening monologue that “All items that move amongst the quiet poles/ Shall be at my command,” (I/ 56-57). The only command that Faustus truly has is over Mephastophilis, but that authority is restricted by the spirit’s ultimate allegiance to Lucifer who prevents his servant from providing Faustus a wife or speaking of the world’s creator, because each acts concern the divine and are therefore out of Lucifer’s dominion. This limit of knowledge frustrates Faustus as he chides Mephastophilis, “Villain, have I not bound thee to inform me anything?” and the devil replies, “Ay, that is not against our kingdom but this is./ Feel thou on hell, Faustus, for thou art damned,” (V/ 246-248). In spite of these limitations, nevertheless, Faustus’ reliance on the devil endears him to his “Sweet Mephastophilis,” (V/ 244).

Even though their connection is not explicitly eroticized, there is a bond in between Faustus and Mephastophilis that goes beyond the conventional master-servant partnership. When Mephastophilis tells Faustus to reduce his arm so that he can sign the contract in blood, the physician says, “…for adore of thee,/ I cut my arm,”(V/ 53) and the devil in turn plays upon this sentiment when Faustus requests a wife as he states, “If thou lovest me, believe no much more of it,”(V/ 150). Even although Faustus’ adore for the devil comes from the power that Mephastophilis has rather than his actual personality, it has the capacity to engender a strong sense of possessiveness in both companions. Mephastophilis seems to truly want to make Faustus content as he guides him through Rome, “And now, my Faustus, that thou may’st perceive/ What Rome containeth to delight thee with,”(VII/ 28-29). In all his time spent with the mortal Faustus, the devil Mephastophilis becomes attached to the damned man. When the angry horse-courser tries to force his way into Faustus’ chamber, Mephastophilis acts as a sort of nurse making sure that his master’s sleep is not disturbed. After he lets the man in, it is Mephastophilis who carries on company with the horse-courser whilst Faustus merely wails about the loss of his “leg.” Even though Faustus’ love of Mephastophilis is a item of his lust for energy, Mephastophilis’ feelings towards Faustus are rooted in the truth that the devil can relate to the mortal since he is on the verge of eternal damnation.

When Faustus asks him how he came out of hell, Mephastophilis replies that, for him, hell exists wherever he goes because he has recognized God and heaven and lost them for all eternity. As Mephastophilis describes his everlasting torment, a sense of compassion overtakes him and he pleads with Faustus, “O Faustus, leave these frivolous demands,/ Which strike a terror to my fainting soul,”( III/ 81-82). This plea seems uncharacteristic for 1 of the original denizens of hell, but Mephastophilis realizes that Faustus is at a turning point in his life where he can either damn or save his soul, and out of a deep-seated empathy for this precarious position amongst paradise and hell, the devil provides Faustus a chance to make the right choice. This entreaty indicates that if Mephastophilis had the opportunity to go back and adjust his existence, then he would in no way have renounced God, simply because the expense was too wonderful. However, Faustus is so blinded by pride that he does not heed the warning, and he starts down the same path of damnation that Mephastophilis himself had chosen in the past.

Interaction with a mortal that reminds Mephastophilis of himself causes the devil to take an introspective view, and when he fetches the coals to thin Faustus’ blood, the spirit momentarily reveals a sense of despair, “Oh what will not I do to acquire his soul!” (V/ 73). This outcry reveals the baseness of Mephastophilis’ existence, due to the fact he is forced to run errands for a mortal man in order to usher his reasonably insignificant soul into hell. He sees the vanity of Faustus’ “frivolous demands,” which are not worth the eternity of torment that Mephastophilis is all also familiar with. As a committed servant of Lucifer, however, Mephastophilis is bound to his hellish duty and can do no more to dissuade the mortal Faustus. Even his one particular brief moment of commiseration would surely not have produced his master Lucifer satisfied. Although his partnership with Faustus does not necessarily adjust Mephastophilis, it does reveal the complexity of his character. Even even though he is an eternally damned devil, he nevertheless longs for the presence of God and eternal bliss to the point that he attempts to guide Faustus in the right direction in his stead.

One particular may typically feel that a devil like Mephastophilis would be unequivocally evil and mean-spirited, but his relation with Faustus reveals the complexities of his character. He is eternally damned, but he does not revel in his own nefariousness, and is in truth capable of compassion. Dr. Faustus is too self-absorbed to listen to the spirit although, and he loses his soul as a outcome of his excess of pride. Via his pact with Lucifer, the mortal man does not obtain any sort of genuine energy or authority, but merely the minimal solutions of a devil who performs parlor tricks for the man. Faustus sold his soul for the illusion of power, which is demonstrated by his reliance on Mephastophilis, and he does fully recognize the folly of his actions till Lucifer’s hordes drag him into hell.

Works Cited:

Marlowe, Christopher, “The Tragical History of Medical professional Faustus.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Vol 1. Ed. M.H. Abrams. 7th ed. New York, NY.
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