Doctor Faustus (play) - Wikipedia
Santayana unequivocally placed Goethe's Faust within the context of Teutonic .. the beginning, Faust's relationship with Mephisto is marked by the tension. Faust is a tragic play in two parts by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, usually known in English as 1 Nomenclature; 2 Faust, Part One; 3 Faust, Part Two; 4 Relationship Finding that she refuses to escape, Faust and Mephistopheles flee the in Heaven") being published in the first edition of his Posthumous Poems by Mary. relationship between the director, and the poet in the “Prelude in the Theater” The relationship of Mephistopheles and Faust mirrors the one .. Part 1 of this essay discussed the intentions of a poem and performance.
Goethe plays here to the very real sense most of us have, even those of us well-versed in modern science, of an intuitive gap between our still inadequate understanding of how energy flows through the universe and what energy is, or rather how it feels to be part of the complex of energies that forms our reality. What we understand is not what we feel.
And that gap fuels a strange quasi-belief I think that somehow we might bridge it, by some combination of knowledge and perception that would render us closer in our relationship to Nature and Being. A belief designed to be ultimately thwarted.
And that lack of relationship, truly felt relationship is the source of his distress. That same lack and that same distress are at the root of Existentialist thinking. We believe the Universe should be in a deeper relationship to us than that of blind laws.
We almost demand empathy from it, that same empathy which our own brain functions have, not just with other human beings but also with physical objects and processes. We expect it to be returned: He now line turns to the symbol of the Earth-Spirit instead. The Earth-Spirit seems to represent Earthly energies, a closer aspect of Nature, the microcosm rather than the macrocosm.
But faced with its real presence, he is unable to endure its intrinsic play of energies, is challenged by it and forced to respond, and in the end as he tries to compare himself with it the Spirit rejects the comparison. Human understanding comprehends its own concepts, not those inherent in Nature.
Sceptical Philosophy with a vengeance! Shelley who admired Goethe, and translated scenes from Faust though Goethe had little knowledge of Shelley came up against that same barrier to human understanding indicated in the philosophy of Hume and later Kant, which he was too honest a thinker to evade. The Enlightenment forever distanced the world from us, and yet….
Much of the scene so far is done for dramatic effect, and I doubt Goethe had any more belief in the Earth-Spirit than he did in the Lord God who appeared in the prologue. But it is there to make a crucial point, that the world itself is sacred energy, and that Faust cannot directly reach that energy, and so cannot achieve direct intuition of Nature, through mysticism or magic. Note that Faust has now traversed the world of highest knowledge and failed to satisfy his yearning.
Neither conventional knowledge nor magic yield him access to universal Truth.
His subsequent use of magic will give him access to a far lower, if still fascinating, world. It is a fundamental artistic problem of the Faust story as a Christian morality tale that its middle part tends to strike a lower note, because the spiritual energies are most visible at the beginning and end of the work.
Marlowe did not avoid the problem either. His beginning and ending elicit his greatest verse. Note the stage direction. Wagner is coming from the house of sleep, with a little light of knowledge, while Faust has been bathed in the glow of the Earth-Spirit.
Faust is here a potentially tragic character, his situation created by the fatal human condition and he himself morally flawed in various ways. Goethe of course intended no such reading. Faust in such scenes is weak and flawed still, and only on his first faltering way towards the light even towards the end of the play. The lines here are superficially true, but their gleam has dulled to an age that has heard many fine speeches but seen less fine action to go with them.
In fact Goethe immediately counteracts his words with a plea for sincerity that is music to our ears It is Easter eve, the night prior to the Resurrection. Faust first must enter the darkness of self-recognition and attempted suicide. He realises that his failure to relate fully to the Earth-Spirit is a sign of his own lack of powerhis inability to make the Spirit stay, a familiar enough feeling to the poet whose inspiration fades, as to the mystic whose vision dies.
His self-destructive action is fortunately interrupted by the Choir who celebrate the risen Christ as Easter Sunday dawns. And the Christ celebrated is He who atoned for Original Sin.
Goethe is, at least here, subscribing to traditional formulae, and we are still in the morality play. It is typical of Goethe, and works beautifully here, that he should stress the Resurrection and not the Crucifixion.
He is sensitive to the liberating moment, and the tender effect of the role of the women, with Christ as the Bridegroom. While failing now to subscribe to the faith, Faust is still prompted by childhood feelings to experience that spiritual sense of liberation and tenderness, and it recalls him to life, to emotion, to the age of sensibility rather than sense, to the age of pre-Romanticism rather than the age of Enlightenment.
Yet it is Earth, not Heaven that claims him. Part I Scene II: It allows Goethe to re-emphasise Nature as a complex value-set. And it serves to introduce Mephistopheles disguised as a black dog! Faust and Wagner now appear and Faust gives a speech extolling Nature resurrected from winter, and Humanity liberated from work and the city.
Wagner counteracts this with the odi profanum hatred of the common crowd: Goethe is striking a note that he will return to at the end of the play, Faust relating to and identifying with the human race, and being embraced by, enfolded into, the community of human spirits. Nature in spring, the resurrected Christ, and liberated Humanity are here identified as one.
The Nature identity stems from Rousseau perhaps, the resurrected Christ as a vegetation God from early comparative mythology studies that Goethe may have read. Goethe though is proclaiming human sexuality as a valid part of experience, and life. He enjoys his descriptions of sexuality throughout Faust, and they reflect his view of sexuality as a generally fruitful and valid part of loving human experience. There is no sexual horror or brooding in Goethe.
Then we have a scene with the Farmer and the crowd that draws Faust into relation with them. It appears he and his father had been involved in saving people from the plague, and Wagner praises him accordingly once the people have moved on.
But Faust in a burst of honesty, influenced by the liberating moment, confesses that his father had in reality employed alchemy to produce useless remedies, and that they had killed rather than cured their patients. Wagner gives a wonderful reply, straight from the realms of thoughtless and unfeeling experimental science. It was all good practice, and each generation learns more and gets better at it! We then have a piece of pure Romantic yearning, as Faust longs for wings of the spirit to lift him above the Earth and let him follow the Light.
Wagner in turn dismisses Nature in favour of learning, allowing Faust a speech identifying his dual nature in true Romantic fashion, his earthbound persona and his restless spirit, where he longs for a magic carpet, something that Mephistopheles will eventually provide!
Wagner sounds a valid warning here: Wagner will usually fail to put into practice what he has learned. And the scene ends with Wagner unwittingly ridiculing himself. It is rather unfair of Goethe to have Wagner condemn himself out of his own mouth: The Study [go to translation] With deep irony the opening lines of the scene show us Faust refreshed by Nature, his restless spirit temporarily at peace, and filled with love of Humanity and the Divine.
Yet here is Mephistopheles in the form of the dog about to destroy his tranquillity. The black dog, irritated no doubt by all this religious thought, amusingly disturbs him, then gives a hint of its infernal Nature. And Mephistopheles appears, in the form of an itinerant scholar, as Wagner had unwittingly implied! The concept will cause us, and Goethe, some problems though. It suggests that if there is the possibility of ultimate evil and sin, then Mephistopheles is not the traditional Devil proper, since his activity drives towards the good.
Alternatively if there is no Devil proper, and no ultimate possibility of evil, then Mephistopheles is already doomed to failure and Humanity always saved. Goethe has trouble with the Christian trappings of his story, which he inherited from the old morality play, and yet it is all too much fun for him to let it go.
Doctor Faustus vs. Mephistopheles, or The Unfair Bargain
It is dangerous therefore to try and read Faust as some sort of ethical Divine Comedy, which it patently is not, despite the lingering atmosphere of the morality play. Goethe is circling around the central Romantic, and subsequent modern, issue. If there is no substance to traditional religion, then what is the foundation of morality, other than arbitrary social rules?
The Romantics will follow this through to the shifting relativity of values, existentialist despair and ultimately nihilism. Philosophy and Theology will meanwhile attempt a re-valuation of values, or reinterpret the divine relationship. This is both a more limited and a more consistent approach. It acknowledges the human for us, neo-Darwinian position as a part of nature, with a biological history, but understands morality as primarily an assertion of our inner selves, rather than a set of rules imposed from outside our nature, society and biology.
Mephistopheles goes on to identify himself as the spirit of denial, of destruction, of darkness and of whatever human beings mean by sin and evil. Though, he concedes, his efforts are always frustrated by the creative energies of the world. Mephistopheles now wishes to leave but is trapped by the unfinished pentagram drawn on the floor, in which the dog-form was accidentally caught.
Faust hints at a pact, and Mephistopheles agrees to the possibility. Promising to stay and then lulling Faust to sleep with Spirit-singing, he calls up the insects, rodents etc to complete the pentagram and allow his escape. Faust wakes thinking it all illusion, a dream. So Mephistopheles, the seductive and witty spirit who will continually tempt, lead, serve and seduce Faust has been introduced.
And Goethe has also set the scene for the pact between Faust and Mephistopheles that will now follow. Part I Scene IV: The Study [go to translation] Mephistopheles returns, and invites Faust to experience Life with him. Faust indulges in a complaint regarding the claustrophobia, indifference and torment generated by his existence.
Goethe is here allowing Faust to state the Romantic position, while Mephistopheles undermines it. Faust now launches into a comprehensive curse of everything that he claims deceives the mind and heart: Mephistopheles responds through the voices of the seductive spirits, calling Faust back to life, though it is a false life Mephistopheles plans for him not the true life, and offers to serve Faust.
Faust in return demands the basis for that service. Mephistopheles replies that it will be a reciprocal arrangement with Faust returning the services in the afterlife that Mephistopheles provides in this one. Faust replies with another Romantic dismissal of this world and a willingness to ignore the consequences of the next, and Mephistopheles again pursues the logical outcome.
Faust Prologue in Heaven Summary & Analysis from LitCharts | The creators of SparkNotes
Now Faust condemns in advance whatever Mephistopheles can offer, wealth, love etc as snares, and his bravado leads him to the pact. If Mephistopheles can ensnare him and seduce him until his own self is a joy to him, and the Moment a blessing, then Mephistopheles can have him. Perversely Mephistopheles will agree to this though it places Mephisto in the position of working counter to his own role, that of being a spur to restlessness and fresh activity.
He will accept human sensation and experience, become one of the mass, and absorb the whole, despite Mephistopheles scepticism.
Mephistopheles suggests that given human inadequacy and the shortness of time, he might like to employ a poet to help! The poet can roam in imagination, and speed up the process! The scholar is a person after all who is isolated from reality. And here one comes, or rather a student.
Mephistopheles changes roles with Faust, putting off his own wit, he declaresfor that of the sterile, witless teacher of others. Theory is grey, says Mephistopheles, but the tree of life itself is green Goethe will make Mephistopheles a true heir of the Enlightenment. The scene ends with Faust feeling uncomfortable already in his new roleand off they float on a cloak filled with hot air! Goethe has established the Faust and Mephistopheles pairing now: We might consider Faust to be influenced by Rousseau, Mephistopheles by Voltaire: Faust as the product of the age of Romanticism or at least the age of Sentiment, Mephistopheles the product of the Enlightenment.
Faust is mind deranged by emotion, Mephistopheles is reason distorted by lack of it. Goethe has also forged their pact, the complement to Mephistopheles wager with God in Heaven.
Win or lose, Faust will be saved. Goethe gives us no clues. A curious wager, since it puts the Devil in the place of one trying to prove the blessedness of life on earth, not one trying to destroy the moral fabric. Mephistopheles is a very strange devil. And we remember that his role is as a goad and spur to Mankind, as one who dabbles with the bad, but inexorably creates the good. Mephistopheles will harry and seduce Faust, but ultimately Goethe will not let him deflect Faust from the creative path.
Rejecting temporarily the attempt to aspire to the realms of the Spirits, and proclaiming the sterility of knowledge and learning, Faust will now descend into the pleasures and pains of human experience.
Part I Scene V: Mephistopheles himself is unrecognised by the drinkers, despite his limping disguised cloven foot, and now conjures up various founts of drink for the tavern regulars, and adds a bit of hellfire for fun. His magical incantations have an Elizabethan quality that Goethe perhaps learnt from Shakespeare The drinkers now have the illusion of being in a land of vineyards, and as the vision dissolves are left grasping each other by the nose.
Cheap pursuit of sensuality is unlikely to win his attention for long. Part I Scene VI: Her creatures meanwhile entertain Mephistopheles with fragments of wisdom, limited pieces of human scepticism about life, and silly jests.
Faust has found a magic mirror in which he sees the vision of a beautiful woman Helen and Mephistopheles holds out a teasing promise of bringing her to Faust. Since Truth has failed him so far, Love and Beauty will clearly be areas of experience that a rejuvenated Faust will have to traverse in search of contentment and the exalted Moment. The Witch now arrives down the chimney, and Mephistopheles mocks her chant and taunts her for not recognising him, though he concedes that modern Northern devils are men about town, gentlemen, and dandies, and so indistinguishable among the rest!
The Witch at his instigation prepares the potion for Faust, and Mephistopheles chides the dour Doctor for his inability to enjoy the fun of witchcraft and incantation. Mephistopheles is the spirit of Voltaire, Faust that of Rousseau. Mephistopheles is the Enlightenment, Faust the proto-Romantic. Wit, reason and poise are not enough for human beings: Faust demands a deeper goal, a higher aim, a profound activity on which to stake his life. He drinks the potion and is rejuvenated.
A Street [go to translation] Faust now meets Margaret Gretchen and we are moving into the main tragic content of Part I, a classic seduction of the innocent girl, followed by her downfall engineered unwittingly by Faust and deliberately by Mephistopheles. This is after all originally a morality play, in the versions that Goethe derived his Faust from. Goethe may have added to it his own memories and guilt over his brief affair with Friederike Brion in October She was the daughter of the pastor at Sesenheim, twenty miles north of Strasbourg.
Their short-lived relationship ended in Augustand Goethe apparently felt an acute sense of guilt at betraying and deserting her. The Devil is caught preaching morality! Faust shows no regard for the deeper possibility of Love at this stage, and is the pure sexual sensualist, the rake, the seducer Don Juan. Goethe has made no effort at this point to show Faust in anything other than an unacceptable light.
Nevertheless, and despite the tragedy of Gretchen, Faust will eventually be saved. We are here at the heart of the question as to whether Goethe is essentially an immoralist, condoning immoral and callous behaviour: We expect the good and decent man or woman to control passion and selfishness, apply foresight, and show a benevolent empathy towards others.
Faust clearly reveals none of those things in this small scene. However we do also allow mitigating circumstances, for example the effect of drugs or drink, though those do not fully excuse the consequences. Evening [go to translation] The cynical Mephistopheles is now contrasted with Faust the sentimentalist. He is one of those incapable of separating sexuality and desire from deeper emotions, a desirable quality but with tragic consequences in this case.
The Romantic urge is forever seeking to deepen experience and give it weight, a weight that it often seems incapable of carrying, hence the often theatrical quality of Romanticism, and its susceptibility to parody and ironic attack.
Mephistopheles leaves behind a casket of jewels, to tempt the girl. He is the devil of seduction, and so the denier of morality. Gold and jewellery will be symbols of potential or actual corruption throughout the play.
They exit, and Margaret Gretchen enters and finds the jewels. So Goethe subtly sets the scene for what will follow. Gretchen concludes the scene with her thoughts about the transience of youth and the power of wealth. Part I Scene IX: Goethe allows Mephistopheles to poke fun at the greed revealed in organised religion, in the state and in the money-lending class.
The seduction is however still progressing well, and the Faust-Mephistopheles relationship is developing into that of master-servant, with Mephistopheles subtly following his own agenda of luring Faust towards acceptance of the Moment. Part I Scene X: Mephistopheles now enters, and Goethe provides a comic interlude while Mephisto deceives Martha in order to create an opportunity to introduce Faust as his friend and second witness.
Mephisto successfully sets up a meeting. Part I Scene XI: The Street [go to translation] Faust jibs at the false-witness Mephisto requires of him. To which Mephistopheles replies with a nice piece of sophistry, indicating that many statements are made on less true knowledge than Faust has. Mephisto sees the sophistry in that! And Faust concedes the inevitability of his sensual desire for Gretchen regardless.
The Garden [go to translation] The meeting takes place, and Faust flatters poor Gretchen who expresses her own humility and self-knowledge. Meanwhile Mephistopheles has an amusing knowing conversation with Martha. Faust stresses the beauty of innocence, an innocence he is out to corrupt!
Gretchen tells about herself and in so doing reveals her loving and maternal qualities: Goethe plays out a delicate and amusing little contrast between the two pairs.
Gretchen seeks love, and Faust declares his love for her. Or is he merely intoxicated by the feeling, able to conjure it up and work himself into the part required? The degree of emotional selfishness involved here is interesting.
Is Faust seeking the sensation of love rather then committing himself to another human being, Gretchen being the handy vehicle? Does he feel any care or regard for her as an individual? Mephisto and Martha put their worldly seal on the inevitable outcome. An Arbour in the Garden [go to translation] Faust and Gretchen now appear as lovers without yet having achieved full sexual union. As Faust and Mephisto depart, Gretchen voices her doubt and her grasp of the reality.
What can Faust find in her but sensual indulgence? His conquest of her is merely an exercise of his male status, knowledge and power, and therefore an easy victory. The girl is inevitably doomed, within the society of that time, if the liaison becomes public knowledge and he fails to stand by her. The Earth-Spirit has given Faust all in the sense of allowing a human being to participate through feeling and sensation in the natural world.
Faust feels in an exalted state of empathy and communion with the world, a Romantic state, even though he is aware that the negative Mephisto is also in some way a gift of the deeper reality to him. He perceives that though Mephisto is a spirit of denial, impertinent and chilling, he also holds out the prospect of sensual beauty, beauty of form, to Faust.
The banter between Mephistopheles and Faust now intensifies Das Wagnerbuch Dr. Locations linked to the story[ edit ] Staufena town in the extreme southwest of Germany, claims to be where Faust died c.
The only historical source for this tradition is a passage in the Chronik der Grafen von Zimmern, which was written around25 years after Faust's presumed death.
These chronicles are generally considered reliable, and in the 16th century there were still family ties between the lords of Staufen and the counts of Zimmern in nearby Donaueschingen. This has led to a measure of speculation as to where precisely his story is set. Christopher Marlowe used this work as the basis for his more ambitious play, The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus published c. Goethe's Faust[ edit ] Another important version of the incredible legend is the play Faustwritten by the German author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
The first part, which is the one more closely connected to the earlier legend, was published inthe second posthumously in Goethe's Faust complicates the simple Christian moral of the original legend.
A hybrid between a play and an extended poem, Goethe's two-part " closet drama " is epic in scope. It gathers together references from Christian, medieval, Romaneastern, and Hellenic poetry, philosophy, and literature.
The composition and refinement of Goethe's own version of the legend occupied him for over sixty years though not continuously. The final version, published after his death, is recognized as a great work of German literature.
Frustrated with learning and the limits to his knowledge, power, and enjoyment of life, he attracts the attention of the Devil represented by Mephistopheleswho makes a bet with Faust that he will be able to satisfy him; a notion that Faust is incredibly reluctant towards, as he believes this happy zenith will never come. This is a significant difference between Goethe's "Faust" and Marlowe's; Faust is not the one who suggests the wager.
Faust - Wikipedia
In the first part, Mephistopheles leads Faust through experiences that culminate in a lustful relationship with Gretchen, an innocent young woman. Gretchen and her family are destroyed by Mephistopheles' deceptions and Faust's desires. Part one of the story ends in tragedy for Faust, as Gretchen is saved but Faust is left to grieve in shame. The second part begins with the spirits of the earth forgiving Faust and the rest of mankind and progresses into allegorical poetry.
Faust and his Devil pass through and manipulate the world of politics and the world of the classical gods, and meet with Helen of Troy the personification of beauty. Finally, having succeeded in taming the very forces of war and nature, Faust experiences a singular moment of happiness.
Mephistopheles tries to seize Faust's soul when he dies after this moment of happiness, but is frustrated and enraged when angels intervene due to God's grace. Though this grace is truly 'gratuitous' and does not condone Faust's frequent errors perpetrated with Mephistopheles, the angels state that this grace can only occur because of Faust's unending striving and due to the intercession of the forgiving Gretchen.
The final scene has Faust's soul carried to heaven in the presence of God by the intercession of the "Virgin, Mother, Queen, He produces works of increasing beauty to universal acclaim, even while physical illness begins to corrupt his body.