|Mephistopheles, Lucifer, or is it Beelzebub?
You sure do. Thus, he falls into temptation when he calls up Mephistopheles to grant him these superhuman powers. Dr. Faust thinks he has nothing to worry about. He doesn't believe in the devil, or hell. He's a modern man, a man of science. Damnation, piffle! He makes a vow with the devil's messenger and signs it in blood.
But Faustus soon learns that power corrupts, and there's no taking back his damnable vow. Hey, Mephistopheles warned him. What devil does that? A modern, enlightened devil, that's who!
At any rate, the good, or I should say bad doctor gets his comeuppance.
I was fretting about teaching this book because I don't believe in heaven or hell or the devil or any of that ... well, yeah, piffle. Because I'm a modern agnostic. I just couldn't find a way into this novel. Then, I ran into a prof. who teaches Doctor Faustus at Boston University--one of those weird coincidences that seems ordained by higher spirits--haha. And this cool, witty man totally turned my head around. He chuckled heartily at my whining and replied that one doesn't have to be religious to get into Faust. That it's really about the nature of temptation--on any level--and how we handle that, when no one is watching. It's also about the corrupting nature of power. And how, what people are secretly attracted to can be the same things they condemn! I've been teaching this novel now for eight years. And I love it so much I wrote an homage to it. A twist for the Internet generation, called Dorianna. More on Dorr in a sec. First:
Here are some of the many homages, over time, on the original German Faust myths:
In the time of the Faust myths it was a literal fear of the devil
In Goethe's version, one could actually be redeemed of dreadful sin through love
In Marlow's time the sin was intelligence and arrogance over God.
In Wilde's day the sin was pride of beauty and sexual promiscuity.
In Will Self's day (Dorian, 2002) it was the terror of contracting AIDS
In Dorianna's day (2014/15) it's our obsession with Likes and Internet followers
My YA horror, Dorianna will launch on October 24 with Evernight Teen. It's a twist on the Faust story for the Internet generation. To get details of the launch, FB party and tour, subscribe to my newsletter. Here's a short summary:
Internet followers, beauty, power. It all sounded good.
Until it transformed into a terrifying reality Dorianna couldn’t stop
Dorianna is a dark twist for the Internet generation on A Picture of Dorian Gray. When her father is jailed, her mother ships lonely, plain Dorianna to her aunt’s. There, Dorianna yearns to build a new identity, but the popular Lacey bullies her—mostly for getting attention from her ex, Ander.
Ander takes Dorianna to Coney Island where Wilson, a videographer, creates a stunning compilation of her. She dreams of being an online sensation, as she’s never even had a birthday party, and vows she’d give anything to go viral. Wilson claims he’s the Prince of Darkness and warns her the pledge has downsides. Dorianna thinks he’s joking. She has no idea of the dire consequences.
She’s thrust into the spotlight, and an incomprehensible nightmare. Not only is she prettier, she’s gaining harmful powers of manipulation. When her powers grow beyond anything she can control, she’s desperate but clueless as to how to stop it.
If you were to do a fresh twist on a classic tale,
what might it be and why?