• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

What does Marlowe's presentation of Mephastophilis tell an audience about Sixteenth Century ideas of hell and damnation?

Extracts from this document...


What does Marlowe's presentation of Mephastophilis tell an audience about Sixteenth Century ideas of hell and damnation? In this essay I am going to explore different ways in which Faustus uses Mephastophilis. I am also going to be talking about the complicity of the play. I'm also going to look at damnation and talk in depth about Mephastophilis's character and the way he's presented to the audience. Mephastophilis first appears in Scene 3 and straightaway he makes it clear that he is there of his own accord and he's not there because Faustus has conjured him up "I came hither of mine own accord". Straightaway we can realise that Mephastophilis is a very strong character and will not be pushed around. Marlowe presents Mephastophilis to be a clever character who has affections and this would have been weird for the Elizabethan audience to understand as the devil to them was always seen as someone who had no feelings. ...read more.


The idea created when listening to Faustus would have been that Hell was a spiritual place and it was to do with the mind and the Elizabethan audience wouldn't have understood this connotation of hell. Only the higher status people would have understood this view but the "groundling's" who are the people who would have to stand to watch the play and got the cheapest tickets, baisically the poor people wouldn't have understood this idea of hell being spiritual. Mephastophilis first uses the pattern of three to hint at Faustus how sad he is and Faustus being a scholar should have realised this because the audience would have recognised the unhappy tone in Mephastophilis's voice when he says "Unhappy spirits that fell with Lucifer, Conspired against our God with Lucifer, And are ever damned with Lucifer". Mephastophilis shows respect both to God and Lucifer. This shows that he is wise and doesn't want to intimate any of them. ...read more.


Because Faustus wants to achieve the impossible it could be said that he wants to move up in the hierarchy and he wants to be equal to God or even above God which the audience in the Elizabethan era would have thought was wrong both ethically and morally. In the Great Chain of Being God comes first, then the angels, then mankind, then animals, plants and finally at the bottom come minerals. In Scene five when Faustus asks where hell is Mephastophilis replies that it is "under the heavens" and this idea supports what the Elizabethan audience would have thought as this indicates that Heaven is up and Hell is down below. At the end of the play you can tell that Mephastophilis regrets that the time has gone past so fast as he's enjoyed his time on Earth and he doesn't want to go back into hell. It could also be said that Mephastophilis was warning Faustus at the beginning because he wanted to show God that he was good so he could have another chance to go to heaven again and to prove himself to God. Sabaa Mahmud ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Christopher Marlowe section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Christopher Marlowe essays

  1. Dr. Faustus: Show how Elizabethan beliefs in heaven and hell influence the play.

    He also gives up on all hope of forgiveness. This shows a very different Faustus, without belief in himself, who appears genuine and human. It seems Faustus has realised he has limitations, and is in a position of no power; he is controlled by the Devil, who enters his mind -'But fearful echoes thunder in mine ears.'

  2. What does Marlowe's presentation of Mephastophilis tell an audience about sixteen century ideas of ...

    This was a view that was widely accepted at the time. When Mephastophilis first appears Faustus commands him to depart and return dressed as a Franciscan friar since 'that holy shape becomes a devil best'. The fact that Faustus feels the need to disguise the devils true hideousness is a bold statement about the horrific reality of hell.

  1. What does Marlowe's presentation Mephistopheles tell the audience about ides of hell and damnation?

    These acts include calling up minor devils to entertain him, calling up Helen of Troy in the penultimate scene and even summoning Lucifer himself to quell Faustus' doubts. These acts and cunning speeches also show his role in Faustus' damnation.

  2. 'Compare the ways that Marlowe and Chaucer present the theme of sin in 'Dr ...

    This is very similar to Faustus' desire to escape the world of mortal knowledge. Covetousness tells us of its 'sweet gold': Faustus too tells us of his desire to 'heap up gold' in the opening scene of the play. Thus, there are many warning signs for Faustus in the pageant,

  1. Faustus: Renaissance Martyr or Tragic Hero

    In essence, Faustus, like every other Renaissance man, tries to prove that man can rise above the current set of limitations.

  2. Notes on the blank verse of Christopher Marlowe.

    7 The passage quoted from Spenser has a further interest. It will be noted that the fourth line: With blooms more white than Erycina's brows is Marlowe's contribution. Compare this with these other lines of Marlowe: So looks my love, shadowing in her brows (Tamburlaine)

  1. Faustus epitomises the dangers of knowledge without morality. Do you agree?

    Faustus' pride in his knowledge and abilities is an important factor in his downfall. Using imagery relating to the Greek myth of Daedalus and Icarus, the first chorus illustrates the effect this important character flaw has on his actions with the metaphor, 'his waxen wings did mount above his reach,'

  2. What does the play show us about attitudes to sin and damnation?

    find answers other than those written in the Bible, and would have understood his situation. It's not always certain if the play is a true representation of the attitude of a 16th century audience as Marlowe was a radical of his time.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work