Character of Mephistopheles in Goethe's Faust

Character of Mephistopheles in Goethe's Faust

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The Character of Mephistopheles in Faust


Mephistopheles, from the epic poem Faust, by Goethe, is one of the most interesting characters if examined carefully. Much like today's crude interpretations of the devil, Mephistopheles was a skeptic, a gambler, self- confident, witty, stubborn, smart, creative, tempting and of course, evil. There were very ironic things about him. Though he was evil, he was a force of goodness. The evil in him was portrayed in the negative aspects of Faust's personality, which showed that no matter how powerful the Lord was, the devil would always have an impact on a persons life and decisions.

            Mephistopheles was very much of a skeptic and a gambler. In the "Prologue in Heaven", Mephistopheles bet the Lord that he could turn Faust against him and make him do evil. This was ironic because most people would never dream of speaking to the Lord in this way. This showed that Mephistopheles was self- confident and witty. He was very set in his ways and beliefs and found it difficult to believe that God could keep total control over Faust, or any one else for that matter.

            Though Mephistopheles was a skeptic when it came to many things such as natural phenomenon of life, he did believe the Lord when he told Mephistopheles that he had power. Mephistopheles even preached this word to people. After speaking to one of Faust's students, he wrote in his yearbook. It said: "Eritis sicut Deus, scientes bonum et malorum ", meaning "You shall be like God, knowing good and evil". (line 2075) This is a quote from the book of Genesis 3:5 of the Bible. By Mephistopheles saying this quote, he was admitting that God had power and did know what good and evil were. He also believed that he could overcome God, therefore saying that he was more powerful than the Lord.

            Mephistopheles was very smart and creative when it came to luring in his victims of evil. In "Outside the City Gate", Mephistopheles disguised himself as a dog and followed Faust home. Faust knew this dog was evil. He said the dog was "circling around" him and "a wake of fire's streaming behind him" (lines 1175-1179). Every time Faust would begin reading the Bible, the dog would bark as a sign of disbelief and wrongs about it. The next day, in Faust's study, the devil showed up again, but this time in the form of a nobleman tempting Faust to "a life of limitless wealth and pleasure" in return for his soul for eternity.

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Of course, Faust was tempted enough to fall for Mephistopheles trick, and sold his soul to the devil.

            Lastly, in the "Neighbor's House", Mephistopheles, disguised as a traveler from Italy, claims to being a friend of Martha's husband. He tried to win her heart by saying he was a witness to his death and he would bring someone (Faust) to prove his death so that she could remarry. This was an elaborate scheme to get Faust together with Gretchen.

            Though Mephistopheles represented evil, he was unconsciously a force of goodness. He was present in the "Prologue in Heaven" which showed that he was accepted by the Lord as a part of natural life. If the Lord was all powerful and evil wasn't accepted, than why wouldn't the Lord have banished him from the world Mephistopheles, who represented evil, was accepted by the Lord. Secondly, by Mephistopheles interacting with Faust, he was forcing him to also interact with the Lord, the symbol of goodness. In this story, Mephistopheles was much like I would expect the devil today to be like. He was a skeptic, a gambler, self-confident, witty, stubborn, smart, creative, tempting and evil. He was tricky and would do anything to overcome the Lord and prove himself to be the master of the universe

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