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The Devil in Dr Faustus Essay

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The Devil in Dr Faustus  

In Scene 3 Mephastophilis appears to Faustus in his real form. Faustus reacts with disgust and asks the devil to come back in a shape more pleasant to the eye - as a Fransiscan friar. Faustus’s reaction is typically renaissance - he objects to ugliness and craves aestheticism. It also shows his sense of humour (or rather sense of irony) - as he says “That holy shape becomes a devil best” (l 26). What is striking is that when Mephastophilis appears first, Marlowe does not bother to describe him. True - he does not talk of the physical appearance of any of the characters as well, but a devil is a creature that, in our twentieth century opinion, is clearly in need of some footnote specifying what he looks like. But there is no such footnote.

The early seventeenth century audience did not need a description of the devil like the twentieth century audience does. The Middle Ages had accustomed people to viewing the devil as a hideous, disgustingly ugly and frightening creature. The renaissance was a revolution in terms of imagery. The devil became more hu...


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