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Comment on the following extract from Doctor Faustus: "Mephistophilis: Why this is...

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kareemoo | Student, Undergraduate | Valedictorian

Posted June 4, 2012 at 10:11 PM via web

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Comment on the following extract from Doctor Faustus:

"Mephistophilis: Why this is hell, nor am I out of it..."

"Think'st thou that I who saw the face of God,

And tasted the eternal joy of heaven,

Am not tormented with ten thousand hells,

In being deprived of everlasting bliss?

O Faustus! leave these frivolous demands."

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Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 4, 2012 at 11:46 PM (Answer #1)

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This quote, spoken to Faustus by Mephistophilis in Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus, carries with it in-depth traits that can accurately describe the nature of the characters of both Doctor Faustus and Mephistophilis. 

It is in scene III where we find Faustus renouncing heaven as well as his baptism in hopes of making a pact with the devil. He thinks that, by doing this, he will be able to obtain whatever he wants. During his demonic ceremony, he is being watched from the darkness by Lucifer and other demons, without Faustus's knowledge.

As a result of Fausts's words, the demon Mephistophilis appears. According to Mephistophilis, this is a common practice among demons every time they hear someone recanting their Christian faith. This, he says, is what demons do in order to take the recanter's soul to hell.

Faustus is pleased by the fast manifestation of the demon, thinking that it was he who ultimately commanded its presence. Hence, he demands two things from the demon: that he changes his ugly looks, and that he serves him only. When Mephistophilis changes into the shape of a friar, Faustus's ego makes him believe that he is in charge of the demon for sure. Not so. The demon may have shifted his shape, but he is clear in that his allegiance is, and will always be, to Lucifer. 

It is here where we see Faustus more foolish and narcissistic than usual. This is because, as he asks Mephistophilis about hell, even Mephistophilis doubts that Faustus understands the extent of his wishes to "sell his soul". Mephistophilis, once an angel of light, is now a fallen angel. He has seen God, and has known Paradise. Now, he is in Hades, serving Lucifer after Lucifer's revolt. This being said, Mephistophilis knows that hell is a terrible place. He even shows a hint of regret of having abandoned the Light. With these words, 

Think'st thou that I who saw the face of God,

And tasted the eternal joy of heaven,

Am not tormented with ten thousand hells,

In being deprived of everlasting bliss?

he essentially tells Faustus that not even he, an official servant of Lucifer, would choose to go to hell voluntarily. Mephisto basically warns Faustus about the true, horrid, and scary nature of Hades. 

To Mephisto's, as well as to the reader's, great frustration, Faustus has reached a level of egotism where he does not even consider what the demon has to say. In fact, Faustus has the nerve to tell Mephisto to learn form him (Faustus) about being strong and courageous about going to hell- as if Faustus has ever been there in the first place. 

This is what shows the extreme foolishness of Faustus as a character, and the in-depth enigma of Mephistophilis: while Faustus boasts a fabricated courage under the false idea that he can survive anything, the demon shows concern, fear, and even some regret. This is why the demon says 

O Faustus! leave these frivolous demands.

This is a plea for common sense. Common sense which Faustus greatly lacks. When you have a hideous spirit telling you, begging you, and suggesting you to reconsider the idea of going straight to hell chances are that you will listen. However, Marlowe is determined to present to us the way in which a man can live amidst a wealth of knowledge and still remain devoid of reason. 

Sources:

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jafarinarsis | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted December 7, 2012 at 9:42 AM (Answer #2)

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What is "Wanger's" charactisation in "dr. faustus" play?

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