Solving the problem of evil in the twenty-first century

Black Butler

Black Butler

The concept of a Faustian bargain or a deal with the devil has been represented in many ways through the years mainly by the play Doctor Faustus by Marlowe. The anime Kuroshitsuji or Black Butler is a modern representation of the concept of the Faustian bargain. The series follows Ciel Phantomhive a twelve year old boy head of a noble family, and his demonic butler Sebastian Michaelis. Ciel serves under the queen of England as her “watch dog”, required to follow her orders and solve any problem that plagues England with the aid of his butler Sebastian.
As a younger child Ciel saw the murder of his parents and burning of their mansion. Filled with hatred Ciel forged a contract with the demon Sebastian having him serve as his butler and carry out any order Ciel commands. When Ciel has finally finished all of Ciel’s tasks including getting revenge on the people who killed Ciel’s parents, Sebastian will kill Ciel and take his soul. Sebastian appears as a perfect butler in the series who is able to do many tasks such as cleaning the mansion, cooking, tutoring Ciel and other subjects as a perfect man as other characters in the series describe him but in reality Sebastian is able to do all of this because he is a demon. In the series Sebastian makes a pun where when other characters ask him how he is able to do such incredible feats for a human, he replies “I’m just one hell of a butler” making a pun of the fact he is a demon. As a demon Sebastian shows inhuman abilities such as running as fast as cars and incredible fighting abilities in par with other unnatural creatures such as grim rippers and angles. Just like Faustus, Ciel sold his soul to the devil and had a demon under his control but instead of having a time limit, Ciel’s contract lasts until his desires (mostly the desire of revenge for the people who killed his parents) are fulfilled. The tasks the queen sends to Ciel are manly completed by the demonic abilities of Sebastian just like Faustus great feats are done by Mephistophilis. At the end of the series just like in Doctor Faustus, Ciel avenges his parents and the final scene of the series shows Ciel accepting his fate and openly allowing Sebastian to come close to consume his soul. Unlike in Doctor Faustus, Ciel is not dragged to hell and accepts his end of the deal for the contract while Faustus repents and is dragged by two demons into hell. Also the last scene on the series show Sebastian leaning to take Ciel’s soul not making clear what happens to Ciel afterwards possibly making room for a second season.


One response

  1. The series sounds quite interesting. It’s funny how similar it is to Dr. Faustus, but how they change the end to having him accept whatever happens, instead of crying about being dragged down to hell like Faustus did. The whole butler thing was a great choice, and it is clearly a take on Mephistophilis and what he did in Doctor Faustus. I enjoyed your comparisons between the show and the book. Very nice.

    May 10, 2011 at 5:33 pm

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