Demon and Reality Faustus
Faustus describes Mephistopheles as a ‘bewitching fiend’– to what degree do you concur? Mephistopheles varies considerably in his attitude towards Faustus, sometimes apparently providing assistance and guidance while others acting in a dismissive, even disdainful way. Throughout, Faustus is controlled into satisfying Mephistopheles’ own goals, yet the ‘bewitching fiend’ is successful in giving him the belief that he wants to do these things himself whether he is being directed, albeit rather powerfully, there.
Nevertheless it remains to be seen if this is a reflection of the deceitfulness from the devils servant or rather the weakness and conceit shown by Faustus. Faustus appears susceptible and ignorant upon conjuring for the first time, pitiful misconception adding to the sombre mood, as ‘dismal shadow(s)’ overcast the scene, obscuring what is about to occur, leaving the audience in the dark and instilling a sense of horror.
For that reason when Mephistopheles appears as a devil it is most likely through fear that Faustus describes him as ‘too unsightly’ such is the increased sense of stress and feeling of the sublime he experiences. Rather than responding to Faustus’ requirements Mephistopheles instantly gets control and begins surreptitiously asserting his supremacy over him, taking advantage of the truth Faustus is clearly out of his depth, and resorting to imperatives, commanding Mephistopheles to ‘speak!’ hinting that desperation is starting to sneak in.
Throughout the play it appears as though Mephistopheles is praying on Faustus’ weak points, identifying his ‘aspiring pride’ as a pressure point and enticing him towards the concept of becoming the ‘sole king’ of all the earth. When conquered with the idea of being a ‘terrific emperor’ Faustus is certainly convinced that offering his soul is the very best alternative he has and appears to overlook any logical reasoning, allowing Mephistopheles to relax only providing short replies like ‘I will’ in go back to the overly ambitious ideas filling Faustus’ egotistical head.
Faustus’ lack of control is just advanced when his ‘own cravings’ gets the better of him leading to Mephistopheles threatening to go ‘back to hell’– requiring Faustus to urge with him not to leave– furthermore signalling his dependence on him to really carry out all his frivolous desires. The compromise of being offered ‘higher things’ proves excessive for Faustus as assion overcomes reason, which Mephistopheles is eager to distance them from, producing stark opposition and supplying additional evidence that he wants to manipulate Faustus through his vulnerabilities, despite what feelings this will conjure up in the simple mortal himself. In addition to guarantee bringing ‘whirlwinds, tempests, thunder and lightning’ under the control of Faustus, Mephistopheles likewise instantly senses whenever there is slight doubt in his topic, quickly bombarding him with fantasises to ‘thrill his mind’ and turn his attention far from any idea of repentance.
This eagerness to constantly lure Faustus towards hell whenever he wavers slightly recommends a driven character, supported through his own claims that he would do anything to ‘obtain his soul’ no matter the cost, showcasing a lack of care or compassion towards the tight spot Faustus finds himself in. This only serves to enhance the level of deception and pretence when Mephistopheles contacts Faustus to ‘stab thine arm courageously’ resorting to flattery to get his own method, understanding that Faustus’ ego will quickly catch being matched and raised above others.
However in direct contrast, Mephistopheles shows he’s not afraid to turn to intimidation, reporting ‘hell hath no limitations’ such is the reach of the devil, one need to know not to cross him as ‘under the paradises’ the lines blur and the liminal ends up being ever more apparent, this vibrant claim unquestionably a shocking one in front of a modern audience wherein religion stood out in its boundaries– hell and heaven 2 totally various entities.
After a reasonably simple process of persuasion Mephistopheles gains Faustus’ soul, leading to an obvious modification in mindset from Mephistopheles– more strong in his techniques– he freely rejects Faustus his desires, instead questioning his stupidity and chastising him by alerting him to ‘talk not of a better half’ but rather focus on aspects of life he himself deems relevant. Faustus’ pitiful cry at the end of scene 5 recommends that currently he understands the extreme error he’s made and that ‘thou art deceived!’ by the deceitful Mephistopheles, leaving the audience to feel minor sadness for the lost trust he possessed.
Nevertheless while this appears tragic one can not avoid the idea that Faustus was only assisted down a course he wanted the whole time which he encourages himself to be ‘resolute’ and show ready to dedicate the most heinous of criminal activities such as ‘deal luke-warm blood of new-born infants’– a terrible taboo that highlights simply how far he will enter order to satiate his thirst for power and popularity. In turn, this supporters Mephistopheles as more of an onlooker than initially believed and while he is unquestionably identified in getting more souls ‘to expand his kingdom’, he stays open about this throughout, instead of being sly and deceptive.
For that reason it can be considered that Faustus is in no position to call Mephistopheles a ‘bewitching fiend’ such are the failings of his own character. He is the one who condemns himself through his over ambition at ending up being a ‘conjuror laureate’ and conceit in thinking that he has tamed Mephistopheles and made him ‘loyal’. Whereas Mephistopheles only points him in the best instructions and technically constantly remains under his command, bringing him a ‘hot slut’ for a better half, while unacceptable is still satisfying the specifications of Faustus’ self-indulgent dream.
Despite this obedience towards his supposed master, Mephistopheles can absolutely be considered a ‘bewitching fiend’ due to his ability to entice Faustus into making the decisions that Mephistopheles himself wanted and the drive he keeps in requiring the deal through to the end. In addition his lack of issue towards his own conjuror is exposing, joking ‘tut I warrant thee’ in reaction to Faustus’ recognition he has actually done wrong, displaying both a lack of remorse and likewise a smugness that he has succeeded in accomplishing Lucifer’s strategy. Mike Miles