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Effects of the revolutions on Romanticism
Romanticism emerged as a result of the revolutions in America and France in the 1700s. Romantic playwrights got their inspiration from these uprisings and rose against dominant forms of drama. They created a new form of drama that engaged imagination, inner feelings, and emotions.
These revolutions aroused the need for ordinary citizens to fight for their rights, social change, and refute human limitations. Artists, therefore, wrote plays that used ordinary language, imagination, emotions, and optimism. These plays also advocated for individualism.
Differences between modern theatre and earlier forms of drama
Modern Theatre is very different from other forms of theatre that preceded it. Forms of drama that existed before modern drama were majorly religious, and their characters were kings, queens, and other wealthy people. They gave little attention to ordinary people. Modern Theatre discarded these elements and involved ordinary people in their plays. The statement by the Romantic writer confirms the need to involve ordinary people in the theatre.
Themes in Goethe’s Faust
The theme of limitlessness is one of the themes that come out of Goethe’s play. He is not satisfied with the things God gives to human beings. He wants an enjoyable and entertaining life. This desire for a good life leads him to sell his soul to the devil.
The other Romantic theme in Faust is optimism. Faust is supposed to go to hell, but God pardons him and allows him to go to heaven. This act agrees with the Romantic artists’ tendency to write optimistic works.
The relationship between Faust and the devil in Goethe’s play is different from that in the traditional myth. In the traditional myth, Satan gives some of his powers to Faust, but in Goethe’s Faust, Satan provides Faust with everything he desires.
Faust falls in love with a woman, Gretchen, but she later dies. Faust’s relationship with her is very significant because it frees him from dependence on Satan, especially when Gretchen refuses to leave prison. She, therefore, helps Faust attain his salvation.
Other events that influenced Romanticism
The other two historical developments that influenced Romanticism were the Humanism development and the industrial revolution that led to social classes. The Humanism Theory asserted the capability of human beings to stand on their own without religion.
The social classes developed as a result of the industrial revolution. There were the ruling class and the poor subjects who worked in industries. These classes are evident both in Faust and Woyzeck. Woyzeck is a poor man, just like Faust. It is poverty that drives Faust into selling his soul to the devil and makes Woyzeck participate in an unethical experiment that causes him to be insane.
Romanticism vs. Neoclassicism
A Romantic play would be more appropriate for today’s audience compared to a neoclassic one. This century is a century of technological advancement, and a play involving imagination would be more relevant than one involving rules, verisimilitude, purpose, and fairness as was with neoclassic drama.
Faust would be more appropriate for performance in front of a modern audience. The desire for a good life makes Faustus sell his soul to the devil. This theme would be very relevant to today’s audience because of the greed for money among people. These days, people are doing everything, good or bad, to get money. Some people have even joined Illuminati and sold their souls, just like Faustus sold himself to the devil in exchange for wealth.
If I were to play Faust for today’s audience, I would remove the parts acted in heaven and set the whole play in a city where people struggle to get wealth. I would also set the play on earth to where Satan would meet Faust, a poor man, and persuade him to serve him and get enough wealth to last all his life.
Faust would readily agree to this proposal, and Satan would give him the responsibility to recruit other people into the service of Satan in exchange with their souls when they die. This play would appropriately lampoon the desires of people in the contemporary world to amass money at any price.