Who is Mephisto

Characterization of Mephistopheles

Mephistopheles is a devil figure whose characteristics are complex. Mephisto is clever, cunning, unemotional and eloquent and therefore has typical characteristics of the devil. He uses this to seduce Faust into a pleasurable and instinctual life.

Mephistopheles, also called Mephisto, embodies the devil in Goethe's Faust I, but also the rogue (v. 339) / fool, which contributes a lot to the amusing and ironic. He is part of the divine work (v. 342), part of his creation and is thus subordinate to God, like the angels (prologue in heaven). But the prologue in heaven also makes it clear that he is criticizing God's work; he only sees how people toil (v. 251), he describes them as animals (v. 258), since God has given them reason. For him it is a mistake of God. For this reason it can be concluded that he is dissatisfied with God's creation and Mephisto wants to prove this to him with the help of Faust.

Faust and Mephisto are inextricably linked in the prologue in heaven. Mephisto is placed at Faust's side as a companion to the good person who is well aware of the right path in his urge [...] (328f.). He accompanies him and wants to lead him astray and thereby win his soul (see pact). Mephisto does not understand Faust's striving, since he only knows people's instinctuality and not their striving for a higher goal. He believes that he can easily seduce Faust. For Faust, his intelligence and politeness make him an equal interlocutor with whom he can discuss. Together, Mephisto and Faust form a polar pair of figures that complement each other and are dependent on each other; Accordingly, they often quarrel, e.g. when Mephisto is supposed to free Gretchen from dungeon. In this pair of figures, Mephistopheles embodies the negative principle (v. 338ff.).

He always wants evil and always creates good (v. 1135). From this quote it can be seen that Mephisto is an instrument of God and is not free and unbound. In addition, it can be seen that he is not on earth as a destroyer, but rather as an enlightener who acts as a maintainer of the God-given order of creation. Mephisto's advantage is that he is also a quick-change artist (poodle; in front of the gate), who adapts perfectly to his respective role and his counterpart in language and outward appearance. Mephisto is a messenger from hell / darkness (v. 1351-1359). The devil in Faust I is clever, intelligent, decent, polite and friendly, just like a person.

Although Mephisto frankly confesses that evil is his real element (v. 1343), one should not - like Faust (eg in Trüber Tag. Feld) - blame him for everything that goes bad, because he is in Fausts Service; he is his journeyman, servant and servant (v. 1645 - 1647).

It remains to be seen whether Mephisto describes his own tragedy “unconsciously” or reflected so aptly: Mephisto's tragedy consists in the fact that whenever it looks as if his goal, evil, is within reach, a turning point occurs. When the pact in which Mephisto promises Faust the enjoyment of life seems to have been concluded, Faust converts it into a bet. It is comparable with Gretchen: Mephisto successfully awakens Faust's instinctual desire, and then it becomes love. Mephisto appears in almost every scene, is always present in the background as an eavesdropper, observer, matchmaker and the one who pulls the strings.

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