Essay by gfhdff December 2014

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Faustus describes Mephistopheles as a 'bewitching fiend' - to what extent do you agree?

Mephistopheles varies greatly in his attitude towards Faustus, sometimes seemingly offering support and guidance while others acting in a dismissive, even disdainful manner. Throughout, Faustus is manipulated into fulfilling Mephistopheles' own goals, yet the 'bewitching fiend' succeeds in giving him the belief that he wants to do these things himself whether or not he is being guided, albeit rather forcefully, there. Nonetheless it remains to be seen if this is a reflection of the deceitfulness from the devils servant or rather the weakness and arrogance shown by Faustus.

Faustus appears vulnerable and naïve upon conjuring for the first time, pathetic fallacy adding to the sombre mood, as 'gloomy shadow(s)' overcast the scene, obscuring what is about to happen, leaving the audience in the dark and instilling a sense of terror. Therefore when Mephistopheles appears as a devil it is presumably through fear that Faustus describes him as 'too ugly' such is the heightened sense of tension and feeling of the sublime he experiences.

As opposed to reacting to Faustus' needs Mephistopheles immediately gains control and begins surreptitiously asserting his dominance over him, taking advantage of the fact Faustus is clearly out of his depth, and resorting to imperatives, commanding Mephistopheles to 'speak!' hinting that desperation is starting to creep in. Throughout the play it appears as though Mephistopheles is praying on Faustus' weaknesses, identifying his 'aspiring pride' as a pressure point and luring him towards the idea of becoming the 'sole king' of all the earth. Once overcome with the thought of being a 'great emperor' Faustus is obviously convinced that selling his soul is the best option he has and appears to disregard any rational logic, allowing Mephistopheles to sit...