The paper compares Dr. Faustus and The Shoemaker's Holiday. These are two Elizabethan dramas with very different tones, morals and messages. Dr. Faustus was the classical story of the man who sold his soul to the devil in exchange for knowledge and power. …
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The most obvious use of disguise in Dr. Faustus is the fact that Mephastophilis (Meph.) himself must disguise himself because his true visage is too ugly. Although Marlowe does not go into detail as to how Meph. looked when he first appeared to Faustus, it was obvious that the demon looked like the traditional depiction of a demo. Faustus commands Meph. to instantly change his shape - “I charge thee to return and change thy shape. Thou art too ugly to attend on me; Go, and return an old Franciscan friar: That holy shape becomes a devil best.” This is a metaphor for all that comes after. Meph. is evil, and, as such, his appearance was that of evil, in that he was ugly. Evil is ugly. However, the deal that was struck was made to seem fairly benign, like a business transaction. That Faustus asked Meph. to take the form of a Franciscan Friar is emblematic not only of the way that evil is sanitized throughout the book, but also the fact that evil is only thinly disguised. Faustus did not ask Meph. to take the form of beauty, such as a beautiful woman or man, but, rather, a Franciscan friar who is old. If Meph. was asked to take the form of a beautiful woman or man, then it could be said that evil was more elaborately disguised, as the ugly would have been transformed into its opposite, beauty. This helps him in that he can pretend that what is happening is not really dark magic, but, rather, the work of God. Indeed, God becomes part of the theme through the rest of the play, as Faustus alternately attempts to pray to God, yet is rebuked by Meph. so that he stops. Meph. taking the image of the holy man is one way to pretend that the bargain was not really struck, and that the bargain was not all that evil in the first place. In other words, Faustus needed to trick himself into taking the bargain, and the best way to do that was not to look at evil in the way that evil looks, but, rather, to sanitize it. This was the function of the original disguise of Meph. That Meph. transformed into a benign figure also hearkens back to
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