The Lucifer of Doctor Faustus conveys evil in an initially less obvious way, which is crucial to the play’s plot. In order to fully seduce and ensnare Faustus, Lucifer cannot present as someone with an obviously duplicative nature, or even as a foe at all. That he keeps his distance is indicative of his cleverness, as is his use of an emissary in the form of Mephastophilis. This distance renders Lucifer a shadowy transactional figure, allowing Faustus to focus on his best qualities—his supreme wealth of knowledge, for instance—and ignore the rest. This distance also prevents Faustus from witnessing and understanding the true horror and scale of what such a powerful figure is capable of, which might have given him pause about so confidently offering up his soul for a paltry quarter century of support.

Lucifer mirrors Faustus in his own blind pursuits of knowledge. Mephastophilis shares Lucifer’s origins with Faustus, explaining how Lucifer had been forcibly removed from heaven because of his pride and insolence. These shared traits may be something that Faustus sees and respects in Lucifer, consciously or not, but either way, Faustus is incapable of seeing Lucifer’s tale as a cautionary one. It’s possible he even views it as the opposite, as Lucifer’s intelligence and desires led to him becoming the ruler of hell and prince of the devils. Only at the play’s end is his true evil revealed to Faustus; now similarly doomed, Faustus can see with horror that Lucifer’s ravenous appetite for claiming souls is both unrelenting in its cruelty and something of a gleeful sport.