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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s “Faust” Essay

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Updated: Jul 2nd, 2021

Summary and Response

At the beginning of the work Faust, Mephistopheles, the devil, bets with God that His favorite person can leave his righteous ways of life. Faust decides to pursue infinite knowledge but his strategies and goals appear to fail (Davis et al. 562). Mephistopheles takes the form of a stray poodle and tricks Faust into signing a blood pact. With the aid of the devil, Faust eventually befriends and impregnates Gretchen. After Gretchen is convicted of murdering her son, Faust decides to save Gretchen without any success. While the two are escaping the dungeon, voices from Heaven are heard announcing that Gretchen will be saved.

The studied work is relevant to my life due to a number of reasons. Firstly, the play guides me to understand that all human beings will encounter different challenges. This is the case since the devil is always ready to devour or compel them to do what is not righteous. Secondly, I have appreciated that people have flaws and should be guided to achieve their aims. Although the sending of Faust to heaven appears questionable, the play encourages people to avoid pushing others to sin (Steinhauer 180).

I will always consider these insights in order to succeed in my life. Thirdly, the playwright indicates that any person is capable of becoming part of God’s kingdom. I will consider the presented moral approach to avoid the malpractices and misbehaviors described in the story. Finally, this play challenges me as a Christian to appreciate God’s teachings and focus on His kingdom.

Romantic Hero

Focusing on the notions of Romanticism, Goethe presented a different kind of hero whose misadventures were informed by Europe’s social problems. The protagonist transformed from a God-fearing person to a criminal. The contradiction exhibited in the work after Faust is accepted in heaven becomes an achievement for those who were against the issues affecting the continent. The portrayal of Faust is a new form of rebellion that presents a sense of apprehension to the reader. Faust is determined to increase his earthly knowledge, possession, and position (Davis et al. 563). He signs an unexpected pact with a devil in an attempt to enlarge his soul. The portrayal of his feelings and desires, therefore, resonates with the objectives of the Romantic Movement in Europe. From this analysis, the main character is a clear example of a Romantic hero.

Themes

The selected work presents several themes that can guide people to make rational decisions and pursue their objectives. The outstanding one is that of metaphysical quest and desire. This is the case since Faust is portrayed as someone who is unhappy with human potential. This dissatisfaction encourages him to join the devil and emerge successful on earth. Unfortunately, his entire life is characterized by frustration and unhappiness (Davis et al. 563). People should consider this theme to find their own paths in life.

The passion for reason and infinite understanding is the second theme in this play. Just like the thinkers of the Romantic Movement, Goethe presented a character whose thoughts revolved around the idea of knowledge. Due to this objective, he decided to collaborate with the unlikely Mephistopheles. Faust finds himself in disoriented career goals and criminal acts (von Goethe 143). The entrance to heaven becomes a rejection and opposition of the ideals associated with Europe.

Mephistopheles appears to be unhappy or bored with God’s creation. He develops a new way to destroy God’s people. He tempts Faust and encourages him to pursue what is wrong (Davis et al. 564). He even guides him to focus on pleasure and debauchery. Unfortunately, these aims eventually deliver unhappiness and sorrow. Faust eventually becomes the unexpected hero of the play.

Hero and Villain

Faust is a successful scientist and scholar whose main focus is to find greater meaning in life. His associations and actions contribute significantly to the outcome of the entire story. Being the central character, Faust emerges as a hero due to his decision to pursue the ideals of the Romantic period as well as a villain since his wrongdoings contribute greatly to the story’s development. This short essay describes why Faust is both a villain and a hero in this play.

Faust as a Hero and a Villain

The portrayed life of Faust revolves around the desire to search for the truth. With this kind of knowledge, he challenges any form of nihilism to know more about the universe (von Goethe 129). He engages in various actions and eventually befriends the devil. In the second part of the play, Faust wins several battles and has a superior position in the described Imperial Court. His willingness to be the people’s servant is a clear indication that he is a hero. His entry into heaven eventually becomes the hallmark of his achievements.

Moreover, he is a villain since most of Faust’s engagements appear to be selfish or evil in nature. He does not regard the outcomes and experiences of others. This is notable when he befriends an innocent girl for his emotional gains. He signs a pact with the devil in order to pursue his goals. It also notable that Faust is never concerned with the possible outcomes of his strategies (Davis et al. 679). After death, he is unable to find peace and happiness. He finally enters God’s kingdom despite the fact that he had made mistakes. These aspects or malpractices make him the villain in the story.

Conclusion

The above discussion has identified Faust as a character whose actions are questionable or unethical. Nonetheless, the author manages to present him as a hero whose unmatched actions focus on the importance of expanded thinking. The work goes further to present various malpractices that make him the notable villain.

Works Cited

Davis, Paul, et al., editors. The Bradford Anthology of World Literature: The Modern World (1650-The Present). Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2008.

Steinhauer, Harry. “ PMLA, vol. 71, no. 1, 1956, pp. 180-200. Web.

von Goethe, Johann Wolfgang. Faust. The World Publishing Company, 2005.

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IvyPanda. (2021, July 2). Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s “Faust”. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/johann-wolfgang-von-goethes-faust/

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"Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s “Faust”." IvyPanda, 2 July 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/johann-wolfgang-von-goethes-faust/.

1. IvyPanda. "Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s “Faust”." July 2, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/johann-wolfgang-von-goethes-faust/.


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IvyPanda. "Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s “Faust”." July 2, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/johann-wolfgang-von-goethes-faust/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s “Faust”." July 2, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/johann-wolfgang-von-goethes-faust/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s “Faust”'. 2 July.

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