The Art of the (Faustian) Deal

Dating can be hard. Getting noticed, making a good first impression – this is why you need a great wingman!

Oh, wait – no wings. Send him back.
(Love Advice from the Great Duke of Hell by Unfins [Damien], episode 3)

Of course, if you’re wanting to secure a happily-ever-after with the love of your life, then perhaps calling upon one of the Great 23 Dukes of Hell, ruler over 30 legions of bloodthirsty demons who could descend in fury upon the cities of the world and reduce them to ash at the mere blinking of an eye… might not be your best option. Some (including Astaroth, the Great Duke himself) might say the idea is patently ludicrous. But Paul, the protagonist of Love Advice from the Great Duke of Hell by Unfins (Damien) isn’t alone in the annals of people selling their souls for ill-conceived reward. In fact, Paul’s Faustian deal is remarkably similar to the one made by the famous Faust himself – and the others that came before them who also sold their immortal souls for… just the silliest reasons.

Paul Vs Faust

The girl of your dreams barely knows you exist. Your friends can’t help. Your family is clueless. So where do you turn for love advice? Who can provide you with that essential assistance for the lovelorn? If you’re average everyday teenager Paul, you summon a powerful demon from deep in the recesses of Hell and frankly, hope for the best.

Love advice from the great duke of hell

At first glance, trading your soul for a spot of dating advice might seem like a ridiculous waste of otherworldly power. But as we said above, such bargains are not without precedent. Faust himself—the very man for whom we term selling one’s soul to the Devil as a ‘Faustian Deal’—sold himself into eternal damnation because… he got bored.

Well, and because he fancied a girl.

Not one quite like this, though (Love Advice from the Great Duke of Hell episode 13)

Faust and Paul aren’t the only ones to have done this, though—the earlier, folkloric Polish tale of Pan Twardowski features a man who raffles his soul off to Satan himself for a host of supernatural powers, which of course include the power to bring a woman back from the dead. But that ghost, and those ?lucky leading ladies aren’t the only female figures to appear in these stories…

There’s Something About Mary

A seemingly constant fixture in the classical tales of swapping souls for Satanic service is the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, even going as far back as the earliest recorded example of a Satanic pact. And don’t worry guys, this first fellow—Theophilus—sold his soul for a really great reason too.
*ahem*
He felt silly after turning down a job offer, so he summoned the Leader of the Legions of Hell to get himself back in the second round.

When he got hit with his eventual buyer’s remorse— because of course he did—It was Mary who stepped in to void the contract for him. Similarly for Pan Twardowski, who was in the process of being dragged to hell when Mary stepped in and saved him. And in many versions of Faust, it’s Mary who saves the titular salesman at the eleventh hour. Although—importantly, perhaps, given the parallels to Faust which are present in Love Advice from the Grand Duke of Hell—in some versions of the story it’s the yearned-for lover who steps in to save the doomed man’s soul.

Or maybe, perhaps, a sister? (Love Advice from the Grand Duke of Hell, episode 16)

Overall, parallels between Faust and Love Advice from the Grand Duke of Hell are pretty marked: both involve a bargain with a high-ranking member of Satan’s legion (Mephistopheles / Astaroth), both Faust and Paul trade their afterlives for limited time and access to the demon’s power (A few years for Faust, six days for Paul), and both near-immediately use their power to chase an unrequited love. Perhaps, as the webcomic continues, we’ll see a further parallel to Faust in the way Paul worms his way out of the contract. It’s certainly possible one of the lovely ladies in his life will offer him… a helping hand?

Love Advice from the Grand Duke of Hell, episode 18

What would it take for you to sell your soul to the Devil (don’t worry, any answers in the comments will be considered non-binding)? From what I can tell in the literature it seems a pretty sweet setup considering the dealmaker always seems to have an out – unless you know a place or two where we can find an example where the deal’s gone all wrong? If you do, let us know in the comments below or over on Facebook and Twitter, and until next time always remember: don’t eat the clickbait!

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