Dealing with the devil: a critical and creative look at the diabolical pact

Percak, Eric Charles (2015) Dealing with the devil: a critical and creative look at the diabolical pact. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Printed Thesis Information:


This thesis is comprised of three parts: a critical dissertation, a creative work of fiction and a bridge piece that connects the two.

The critical work is an examination of the Devil as a satirist in Faustian bargains. Through the usage of the Devil as a literary figure, his character has become a more secular being: a trickster rather than evil incarnate—a facilitator of sin rather than its originator. In the tragicomedy of pacts with the Devil, he acts as a mirror, reflecting mankind’s foibles and vanity, while elevating the reader in the process. The thesis considers the language, tone, purpose and conceits of several versions of the story. While the focus is primarily on American Literature, the influence of English, Scottish, French and German folklore and fiction are recognized as an essential component of the theme’s evolution.

In the bridge piece, the pact with the Devil is literalized in a modern context; a corporate business of reaping souls is theorized in which techniques of persuasion are streamlined into an effective formula. Whether immersive or expository in approach, the portrayal of the supernatural depends on the literary principles of science fiction and fantasy in order to manipulate the reader and allow irrational concepts to obey rational laws. Such theories are cited to support how the Devil functions as a believable character.

The novel, Could Be Much Worse, relates the story of an egocentric boss and his dependable employee, a scout who disguises himself as a taxi driver and seeks candidates who may succumb to temptation. Passengers’ monologues of desperation and pathos are interspersed throughout the protagonist’s day-to-day narrative. At times, the work is experimental, utilizing irregular storytelling techniques, alternative forms and conceits. Light-hearted, but nonetheless poignant, the story serves as a cautionary tale, illustrating the tedium of a bureaucratic job in a transmundane existence.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Due to copyright restrictions the full text of this thesis cannot be made available online. Access to the printed version is available.
Keywords: Devil, Faust, satanic pact, Faustian bargain, American literature, satire, tragicomedy.
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0441 Literary History
P Language and Literature > PS American literature
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Literature
Supervisor's Name: Coyle, Dr. John and Riach, Dr. Alan
Date of Award: 2015
Depositing User: Dr Eric Percak
Unique ID: glathesis:2015-7378
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 07 Jun 2016 08:16
Last Modified: 13 Jun 2019 08:50

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