I am a servant to great Lucifer And may not follow thee without his leave. No more than he commands must we perform.
When Mephostophilis first arrives in the play, he immediately informs Faustus that he is completely under Lucifer’s control and can only do what Lucifer commands. Through this quote, Mephostophilis clarifies that while he has abilities with dark magic, he can only do what Lucifer approves. Despite Mephostophilis appearing when Faustus conjures him, this quote presents Mephostophilis as a servant of Lucifer and clearly delineates to whom Mephostophilis belongs.
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 joys of heaven Am not tormented with ten thousand hells In being deprived of everlasting bliss? O Faustus, leave these frivolous demands Which strikes a terror to my fainting soul!
As Faustus pursues a bargain with Lucifer, he discusses Mephostophilis’ role as Lucifer’s agent. In these lines, Mephostophilis explains that all the devils are “unhappy spirits that fell” and that his service to Faustus makes up part of his hell. He passionately pleads with Faustus to reconsider his decision to go toward dark magic, describing his regret and torment in knowing he will never experience the joys of heaven again.
What will not I do to obtain his soul!
In this short declaration referencing Faustus, Mephostophilis secretly reveals his devilish intentions with Faustus. He makes this statement aside to the audience, slyly identifying his sinister motives to the audience while maintaining a friendly, guide-like persona with Faustus. Mephostophilis works directly for Lucifer, and in this line, he only confirms that he must and will do whatever it takes to convince Faustus to give up his soul to Lucifer.
Faustus. When I behold the heavens, then I repent And curse thee, wicked Mephostophilis, Because thou has deprived me of those joys. Mephostophilis. ’Twas thine own seeking Faustus, thank thyself. But thin’st thou heaven is such a glorious thing? I tell thee, Faustus, it is not half so fair As thou or any man that breathe on earth.
Faustus contemplates redemption again and quickly blames Mephostophilis for depriving him of heaven. Mephostophilis reveals his strong character as he quickly responds to Faustus by reminding him that he, Faustus, initiated the relationship with Lucifer. In the next few lines, Mephostophilis slyly continues to persuade Faustus to let go of the idea of redemption, leading Faustus to believe giving up his soul was all his idea.
Let it be so, my Faustus, but first stay And view their triumphs as they pass this way. And then devise what best contents thy mind By cunning in thine art to cross the Pope Or dash the pride of this solemnity— To make his monks and abbots stand like apes And point like antics at his triple crown, To beat the beads about the friars’ pates, Or clap huge horns upon the cardinals’ heads, Or any villainy thou canst devise— And I’ll perform it, Faustus. Hark, they come! This day shall make thee be admired in Rome!
While Faustus and Mephostophilis plot against the Pope and cardinals, Mephostophilis demonstrates his true control and power over Faustus. While he makes Faustus believe that all the plans are Faustus’s ideas, Mephostophilis ultimately plants every idea in Faustus’s head, persuading him to move forward with promises of fame and admiration in Rome. Mephostophilis even says “my Faustus,” implying his ownership of Faustus.
Faustus. . . . Sweet Mephostophilis, so charm me here That I may walk invisible to all And do whate’er I please unseen of any. Mephostophilis. Faustus, thou shalt. Then kneel down presently. Whilst on thy head I lay my hand And charm thee with this magic wand. First wear this girdle, then appear Invisible to all are here[.]
In this interaction between Faustus and Mephostophilis, Faustus requests that Mephostophilis use his power to make him invisible. Once again, Mephostophilis exhibits his power and control over Faustus. Even though Faustus made the deal with Lucifer to gain the power of dark magic, Mephostophilis, not Faustus, actually possesses the power. Mephostophilis then symbolically and literally makes Faustus invisible. Such an act is designed to intoxicate Faustus and ensure he willingly gives up his body and soul.
This is but a small matter. Go Mephostophilis, away! . . . From whence, by means of a swift spirit that I have, I had these grapes brought as you see.
When Faustus offers to do something for the Emperor’s wife, she requests a dish of grapes. While Faustus claims the credit for bringing her the fruit, readers understand that Mephostophilis’ power actually accomplishes the task. Mephostophilis allows Faustus to believe he has the power, feeding into Faustus’s ambition and thus gaining further control over Faustus. The sly way that Mephostophilis worms into Faustus’s good graces demonstrates Mephostophilis’ devilish soul.
Thou traitor Faustus, I arrest thy soul For disobedience to my sovereign lord. Revolt, or I’ll in piecemeal tear thy flesh . . . This or what else my Faustus shall desire Shall be performed in twinkling of an eye.
These lines spoken by Mephostophilis amid a conversation with Faustus about his commitment to Lucifer reveal Mephostophilis’ two-faced character. In one moment, Mephostophilis threatens to tear Faustus’s flesh if he disobeys Lucifer. Then, later in the conversation, once Faustus retreats and recommits to Lucifer, Mephostophilis says he will perform whatever task Faustus requests with a “twinkling of an eye.” This twinkling references the ulterior motives of anything Mephostophilis does for Faustus.
How should he but in desperate lunacy? Fond worldling, now his heart blood dries with grief, His conscience kills it, and his laboring brain Begets a world of idle fantasies To overreach the devil; but all in vain: His store of pleasures must be sauced with pain!
In a conversation with Lucifer and Belzebub, Mephostophilis demonstrates his dark character as he shows no pity or mercy for Faustus as the twenty-four-year bargain comes to an end and Faustus faces damnation. Actually, in these lines, Mephostophilis appears to enjoy Faustus’s suffering, commenting on Faustus’s trivial fantasies, laughing at his vain attempts to escape his fate, and even suggesting that Faustus should receive extra pain.
I do confess it Faustus, and rejoice. ’Twas I, that when thou wert i’ the way to heaven Dammed up thy passage. When thou took’st the book To view the Scriptures, then I turned the leaves And led thine eye. What, weep’st thou! ’Tis too late, despair, farewell! Fools that will laugh on earth, most weep in hell.
While Mephostophilis and Faustus discuss Faustus’s fate and fall from heaven, Mephostophilis admits that he tempted Faustus and persuaded him to go toward the darkness and make a deal with Lucifer even if Faustus was the one who made the ultimate decision. Not only does Mephostophilis proudly declare his skillful deception, he also shows no sympathy for Faustus, telling him that it’s too late to despair.