|a scrap or morsel of food left at a meal.|
|a screen or mat covered with a dark material for shielding a camera lens from excess light or glare.|
In the drama Faust by Goethe, a devil who tempts Faust into selling his soul to the powers of darkness. Mephistopheles also appears, with his name spelled Mephistophilis, in the sixteenth-century English play Doctor Faustus, by Christopher Marlowe.
familiar spirit of the Devil in late settings of the legend of Faust. It is probable that the name Mephistopheles was invented for the historical Faust by the anonymous author of the first Faustbuch (1587). A latecomer in the infernal hierarchy, Mephistopheles never became an integral part of the tradition of magic and demonology that predated him by thousands of years. He is mentioned only in the magic manuals attributed to Faust. He belongs essentially to literature. In Doctor Faustus (1604), by the English dramatist Christopher Marlowe, Mephistopheles achieves tragic grandeur as a fallen angel, torn between satanic pride and dark despair. In the drama Faust (Part I, 1808; Part II, 1832), by J.W. von Goethe, he is cold-hearted, cynical, and witty-perhaps a more subtle but certainly a slighter creation. At the end of Goethe's drama, Faust's soul escapes from Mephistopheles while he is making improper advances to the angels that have come to rescue it.
Learn more about Mephistopheles with a free trial on Britannica.com.