In The Mysterious Stranger, Satan claimed himself an angel. But the misfortunes that haunted the village thereafter aroused suspect on him—is he simply an angle named Satan or the devil that no mortal mouth could have dare to spell his name? Angels in bible are messengers from god and they sometimes appear as warriors or guardians. But the angel named Satan in The Mysterious Stranger doesn’t seem to carry any of these missions.
Satan the Rebel
As an angel, Satan is, ironically, the anti-god and anti-Christian power in the short story. He never mentioned in the story that he was sent by god. On the contrary, he is behaving according to his own interest.
The finger-size men and women made by Satan in Chapter 2 reminded the readers the splendid bible story of God creating the world and human. But Satan, the creator of the crowd of little human, killed them without mercy when they locked themselves in quarrels and fighting and finally annoyed him. The bloody scene sent chill to the three little witnesses as well as the readers—Is human race also the result of god’s impulse? Are we doomed to be smashed into dirt when the Creator grew tired of us? Satan here is not others but an ironic image of the Creator, creating fears in the readers and arousing suspect of God’s existence.
With the presence of Satan, comes the misfortune for the villagers. And the villains are those who have been closest to god—Father Adolf and the astrologer. Father Adolf the god’s server, who claims to have met Satan the devil more than once, spends most of his time find fault in father peter instead of serving the villagers. Another priest, Father Peter, though being respected by the villagers and helped by Satan, ran into ill-fortunes and was finally insane, which Satan said to be the best career for him. Satan’s existence here displays the underlying questioning to the Christian church.
Throughout the story, however, Satan himself is the mysterious power that controls the lives of the human race. He told Theodor Fischer that human life is a chain in which a tiny move will wholly changed one’s life and that “a man will never drop a link in his chain” (Mark Twain, The Mysterious Stranger, Ch7) and that it wasn’t God that order human’s career. But at the same time, he himself changed people’s life chains. He said that Nicholas will die in 12days of intending to save a drowning girl, and the boy died exactly the time he told Theodor Fischer. And he changed the career of a number of the villager to be better, he claims. But to a human, the better life in Satan’s words is only shorter life span and sudden deaths.
Satan the Reminder
By showing, telling and condemning the social phenomenon Satan reminds Theodor Fischer, the story teller, of the flaws in human race.
This story is powerful not because Mark Twain tells the readers the flaws in the “Damned Human Race”(Mark Twain，The Damned Human Race) but because it shows the flaws and we realize that it is what really happens in real life and that we ourselves are exactly what Satan said the only race with “Moral Sense” –who doesn’t even deserve the word “brutal”.
Satan is the guide showing us around the world to see all the stupid things done by the “Damned Human Race”:
He showed the suspicions among people when Father Peter hesitated in taking the money for his fear of being trapped by his enemies. He showed the cruelty of human in the torture chamber where instruments are collected for executions. He showed the cowardice of human with his condemnation that human race is “made up of sheep” and “governed by minorities”.
Satan the Writer: Mark Twain
When Theodor Fischer, the little boy who is telling the story, displays the cowardice in Mark Twain, the character Satan in this story is the tougher part of him, showing his disappointment towards God and Christianity, his ambiguity of the mysterious power over human’s life, and his harsh critic of the “Damned Human Race”. And the surprising ending of the story where Satan tells Theodor Fischer that “life itself is only a vision, a dream.” (Mark Twain, The Mysterious Stranger, Ch7) mirrors Mark Twain’s famous remark: “There’s nothing. There’s no god, and no universe. There is only empty space, and in it a lost, homeless and wondering and companionless and indestructible thought. And I am that thought. God and the universes and time and life and death and joy and sorrow and pain only a grotesque and brutal dream evolved from the frantic imagination and that insane thought.” 作者: jumbo