The Faustian Bargain has not changed since the Early Modern period. The Faust character has not either. As time goes on and humans progress in society. We have adapted and accommodated ourselves, for an “easier life”. We have gained a deeper understanding of information that Doctor Faustus in the text would be intrigued in, but even so, with the knowledge and technology, we have gained since the Early Modern Period humans are curious, greedy, and hungry for power. With the text Doctor Faustus, The Machine Stops, and Never Let Me Go, which are texts that are across the timeline from the Early Modern Period Era to today can show that The Faustian Bargain and the Faust character has not changed.
Doctor Faustus is an example of human nature and where we get The Faustian Bargain from. Faustus is a smart man he studies multiple professions in different areas, but they do not satisfy him. In his opening monologue, he goes to logic first. Logic doesn’t satisfy him because it only goes as far as what knowledge humans know. He then goes into the study of medicine. Interested in curing diseases and becoming more famous, but it does not satisfy him because he is already a world-renowned doctor. He considers going into law but thinks it is too trivial. He moves on to the study of religion and theology. He dismisses it because the bible talks about sin, in which humans have no hope of heaven anyways because of man’s sins. Last, he goes into magic, which he believes will make him ‘a mighty god’ (EFB 359). He goes to magic because he wants to learn their craft, summoning spirits. This journey shows his character that he is greedy and will go to whatever lengths to satisfy that greed.
As the story progresses Faustus strikes a bargain with the devil, believing that he will gain powers that are beyond humans. To have that power he has to give his soul to the devil. Faustus is fighting with himself to give his soul to the devil. When he tries to give his soul the first time he was not able to, his soul was rejecting his wishes. Faustus could have been saved, In chapter 48, “the old man comes to Faustus and urges him to repent and ask God’s forgiveness” (EFB 210). Faustus thinks about it in chapter 48 of the English book of Doctor Faustus, “He laid him very pensive on his bed, bethinking himself of the words of the good old man, and in a manner he began to repent that he had given his soul to the devil, intending to deny all that he had promised unto Lucifer” (EFB 210). He started to repent but was terrified when Mephistopheles appears, and the demon forces him to sign the contract. At this point, Faustus was in complete despair and thought there was no way he could repent at that point. His soul had given up as well, in the beginning, he was willing to sell his soul but his own was not. This is when Doctor Faustus lost his humanity too. To be human is having free will and in the text, Faustus lost that along the way. We see a smart and successful man that had free will to do what he wants. For example, he learned different professions not because someone told him to do it but because he wanted too. But Faustus, thirst for knowledge, his curiosity, and hunger for power led him down a road that he had become a frightened man that was no longer in control of what he does.
The Machine Stops is not apart of The Faustian Bargain. They have succumbed to machines. The humans in this story have no free will. They thought of it as a religion basically, “ This was the Book of the
Machine. In it were instructions against every possible contingency” (Foster 55). The means to be human is to decide your actions, to have the free will to do what you want. In the machine stops, Vashti seeks the book for guidance, “If she was hot or cold or dyspeptic or at a loss for a word, she went to the book, and it told her which button to press” (Foster 55). It was like they had no mind of their own and that they were the ones that became human. Today we see humans following somewhat of that with technology. Especially with our smartphones. We take it with us anywhere and websites we ask it for answers to tell us what we should eat, or how to get rid of a cold. The humans worship the machines like they were Gods even though man created machines, “You talk as if a god had made the Machine,’ cried the other. ‘I believe that you pray to it when you are unhappy. Men made it do not forget that. Great men, but men. The Machine is much, but not everything” (Foster 52). The technology in the story changed what it means to be human by taking away their freedom of thought, where the humans themselves can be seen as machines. Doing the same routine every day. Today we see with technology we are sucked into our phones because there is a variety of apps to keep us interested. For example, we struggle with human interaction because we have apps like social media to keep us connected. Humans are not like humans in the story, but there are similarities that we do-follow. This story shows what humanity could be like if humans as a whole succumbed to selling their souls. Not to the devil, but in this case machines.
The Faustian bargain in Never Let Me Go has to deal with the world they live in within this story. Society sacrificed the clones to “better humanity”. By creating clones and selling their organs as donors. This brings up the question are the clones even considered humans? The main characters Tommy, Ruth, and Kathy are clones. Living in a facility most of their adolescence live where they do not even get to experience the world. They are biologically humans, but they do not get the same rights as the rest of humanity. When they do set out into the world they do not fit into social norms. They hear that love, art, or both can get clones a deferral. Tommy and Ruth was determined to find them. Miss Emily says, “We took away your art because we thought it would reveal your souls. Or to put it more finely, we did it to prove you had souls at all” (Ishiguro 217). Going back to the Faustian Bargain the clones in this story are the sacrifice and for them to get a deferral, they have to be a good artist or to find love. It is not human to have to be good at something to live. The story is heartbreaking because, in the end, Kathy loses her lover and friend to society and they become complete. It’s no way a human should live. Unlike in Doctor Faustus how Faustus sacrificed himself to the devil, society in Never Let Me Go, sacrificed other beings for their selfishness and greed. Is this something that can happen today and in real life? There are conspiracy theories that clones are being made, not humans, but animals. In today’s time, humans are still greedy, power-hungry, and selfish, where this story can come to life.
It is human nature for us as humans to be curious and wanting to know more information. We can also are selfish and greedy, it’s not always a bad thing to have those traits, but if getting what you want ends up hurting someone or even yourself it is not worth it. But as time goes on humanity still shows that The Faustian Bargain has not changed and the Faustian character has not either. People will still “sacrifice” themselves and others to get what they desire.