21 February 2022 – The Devil in British Folklore contd

By | February 27, 2022

In this session, we started with the legend of Faust and then traced the same theme of the Devil capturing human souls into British folklore.

There is a common theme of the Devil capturing human souls by exploiting human weaknesses and sins:

  • Being disrespectful of the Sabbath;
  • A love of gambling;
  • Greed;
  • An obsession with hunting and other pleasures.

Disgruntled clergymen feature prominently in the Devil’s prey.

It was also possible to fall foul of the Devil through no fault of one’s own e.g., the Devil objecting to the intended plans for building projects.

We also considered folktales in which the Devil was cheated of his prey by clergymen and others who were too clever for him.

Two aspects of the Devil’s character are evident in these tales:

  • a powerful, dangerous figure
  • a figure of fun who can be relatively easily outwitted.

The first aspect may derive from older mythology concerning the Devil as a pagan god.  The second aspect may derive from later Christian anti-pagan “propaganda”.

Last Updated on February 27, 2022