this is hell, nor am I out of it.
thou that I, who saw the face of God,
tasted the eternal joys of heaven,
tormented with ten thousand hells
deprived of everlasting bliss?
leave these frivolous demands,
a terror to my fainting soul.
is great Mephastophilis so passionate
being deprivèd of the joys of heaven?
thou of Faustus manly fortitude,
those joys thou never shalt possess.
This exchange shows Faustus at his most
willfully blind, as he listens to Mephastophilis describe how awful
hell is for him even as a devil, and as he then proceeds to dismiss
Mephastophilis’s words blithely, urging him to have “manly fortitude.”
But the dialogue also shows Mephastophilis in a peculiar light.
We know that he is committed to Faustus’s damnation—he has appeared
to Faustus because of his hope that Faustus will renounce God and
swear allegiance to Lucifer. Yet here Mephastophilis seems to be
urging Faustus against selling his soul, telling him to “leave these
frivolous demands, / Which strike a terror to my fainting soul.”
There is a parallel between the experience of Mephastophilis and
that of Faustus. Just as Faustus now is, Mephastophilis was once
prideful and rebelled against God; like Faustus, he is damned forever
for his sin. Perhaps because of this connection, Mephastophilis
cannot accept Faustus’s cheerful dismissal of hell in the name of
“manly fortitude.” He knows all too well the terrible reality, and
this knowledge drives him, in spite of himself, to warn Faustus
away from his t-errible course.