Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Faustian losers

Faustian elements are an archetype that are used continuously throughout literature and other forms of art. It usually includes a loser-like character down on his luck and is presented with something that might change that luck. There is usually another supernatural or more sinister force that are the ones presenting the character with that opportunity in exchange for something that belongs to the character or a condition that the character must oblige to if the character is unable to take advantage of the opportunity. This is the part that creates the two different solutions, one where the dark side overcomes, or the character overcomes that dark side.

In the musical Broadway named Damn Yankees, the protagonist Joe is down on his luck supporting a failing baseball team. At that, he prays and says that he is willing to sell his soul in order to find someone who is able to play ball. At this, a certain Mr. Applegate appears and tells him that he will offer him a deal, one that makes Joe a successful baseball player on the condition that he leaves his wife Meg. However, Joe tells Mr. Applegate that the agreement can only go into effect if the baseball team plays the final game, and if not, he gets to walk away. Soon Joe is torn between his love for the game and his love for his wife. He then meets Lola, who is sent by Applegate to sabatoge Meg and Joe's relationship. Unsuccessful in braking the relationship, Applegate provides false information on Joe, who does not look like Joe, about how he is a con-artist and criminal. This upsets Meg, who does not know that Joe is her husband, and breaks off the relationship and reports him, sending him into court. At court, Applegate is unable to coerce the court into sending Joe into jail without the real paperwork. Lola soons finds out how important and strong the bond between Meg and Joe is and brings him to the game, where Joe eventually calls off the deal. Eventually, he overcomes Applegate and reconciles with his wife.

The overall themes of the story is similar to the Faustian plot. Joe is the character who is down on his luck. He is offered a deal to change all that by a sinister character. The antagonist would give the deal on several conditions in which the protagonist would have to avoid. As the character accepts and becomes better they will often start regretting their decisions, like Joe with his wife. The protagonist would then have to fight through the antagonist's plans to foil the conditions, such as Applegate with the false charges and sending of Lola to seduce Joe. At the end, Joe overcomes the evil and outsmarts Applegate, much to the similarity of protagonists either beating the devil or losing towards him, which in this case is beating him.

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