Marlowe’s Presentation of Mephastophilis in Dr. Faustus Essay
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Marlowe’s Presentation of Mephastophilis in Dr. Faustus
Literary works in sixteenth- century England were rarely if ever created in isolation from other currents in the social and cultural world and Marlowe’s Dr Faustus is no exception. It is significant that Marlowe’s great play was written at a time in which the possibility of sorcery was not merely a theatrical fantasy but a widely shared fear. Dr Faustus was also performed at time in which many artists such as Bosch and Jacques Callot were depicting horrific images of hell in their paintings making the play all the more disturbing to the medieval audience. Marlowe’s tragedy emerges not only from a culture in which bargains with the devil are…show more content…
This therefore indicates that devils only have the ability to entrap those who want to be entrapped and who renounce God and swear allegiance to the devil. This was a view that was widely accepted at the time.
When Mephastophilis first appears Faustus commands him to depart and return dressed as a Franciscan friar since ‘that holy shape becomes a devil best’. The fact that Faustus feels the need to disguise the devils true hideousness is a bold statement about the horrific reality of hell. Mephastophilis is presumably too hideous for Faustus to even look upon therefore he demands that he leave and return as something more pleasant and appealing in a feeble attempt to mitigate the horrors of hell. When Mephastophilis reappears dressed as a monk Faustus quizzes him about hell. We learn that Lucifer and all his devils were once angels who rebelled against God and have been damned to hell forever. He willingly tells Faustus that his master, Lucifer, is less powerful than God, having been thrown ‘by aspiring pride and insolence,/...From the face of heaven’. Furthermore, Mephastophilis offers a powerful portrait of hell that seems to warn against any pact with Lucifer. When Faustus asks him how it is that he is allowed to leave hell in order to come to earth he replies ‘Why this is hell nor am I out of it’. Mephastophilis exposes the horrors of his own