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Mephastophilis is part of a long tradition of fascinating literary devils that reached its peak a

century later with John Miltons portrayal of Satan in Paradise Lost, published in the late
seventeenth century. Mephastophilis seems to desire Faustuss damnation: he appears
eagerly when Faustus rejects God and firms up Faustuss resolve when Faustus hedges on his
contract with Lucifer. Yet there is an odd ambivalence in Mephastophilis. Before the pact is
sealed, he actually warns Faustus against making the deal, telling him how awful the pains of
hell are. In a famous passage, when Faustus remarks that Mephastophilis seems to be free of
hell at the moment, Mephastophilis retorts,
Why this is hell, nor am I out of it.
Thinkst 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?
(3.7680)
Again, when Faustus expresses skepticism that any afterlife exists, Mephastophilis assures
him that hell is real and terrible. These odd complications in Mephastophiliss character
serve a twofold purpose. First, they highlight Faustuss willful blindness, since he dismisses
the warning of the very demon with whom he is bartering over his soul. In this regard, his
remark that hell is a myth seems particularly delusional. At the same time, these
complications inspire a kind of pity for Mephastophilis and his fellow devils, who are damned
to hell just as surely as Faustus or any other sinful, unrepentant human. These devils may be
villains, but they are tragic figures, separated forever from the bliss of Gods presence by their
pride. Indeed, Mephastophilis and Faust are similar figures: both reject God out of pride, and
both suffer for it eternally.