Faust History Band Essays

According to Allen Cottrell, “Faust’s career, as the prologue makes clear, was to resolve the question whether the mystery of being may be regarded as meaningful within the context of human exprience.”[5] But is this possible in the Weimar concept of the Faust universe, where Faust himself appears unaware of the meaning of experience?

And if Faust is to be saved regardless of his actions is there any meaning to be derived from the mystery of being in the context of human experience?

If Goethe has presented Faust as a pawn in a greater game, surely as in Helenic fashion, the mortal soul is never in jeopardy. Only if Faust behaves without humanity will his soul be lost.

Thus the human condition as presentesd in the world of Goethe’s Faust is amoral.

But far from bring a fable with a moral, it is a tale of dubious moral character.

Due to its ambiguity, the ambiguity with which Faust deals with his actions, and the supernatural influence of mephistopheles, can the actions of Faust be judged as clearly immoral?Man appears as a “strange creation which vascillates between heaven and earth, between the possible and the imposible, the most coarse and the most delicate or whatever other extremes the human imagination may conjure up.”[8] Thus, in his attempt to defeat Faust it is imperative that “Mephistopheles desires to make Faust behave as though he were exclusively of this world, but Faust conscious that he possesses two souls in his breast, cannot possibly accept this point of view.” Due to this duality within man, which is present in Faust by the presence of elements of the metaphysical and the physical in one being, man will never be satisfied because he is an imperfect being. Gillies in his analysis insists that “if we strive to grasp the finite we must do so within the bounds of our earthly existance, we learn or be destroyed.”[9] This is the keystone to the Faust mystery. Goethe is a Geman literary hero: “he has no aims less large than the conquest of universal nature, of universal truth, to be his portion: a man not to be bribed, nor decieved, nor overawed; of a stoical self command and self denial, and having one test for all men – What can you teach me? Masters Series Oxford [1] Goethe’s view of evil (169) [2]P. ”[3] In a German context the Faust tale, and especially Gothe’s Faust, is too great to be left alone and becomes automatically hijacked and adapted to suit the true history which is written by none other than the victorious. ” There are two bets with mephisto: the Lords who stakes Faust’s salvation on the ceaselessness of his striving and Faust’s, who offers his life if he should ever affirm any aspect of human existence.”[6] As a result “Faust may attain salvation because Mephisto lost his bet with the Lord but he must also die, because he lost his bet with Mephisto,”[7]or did he lose his bet with Mephisto when he died, as he would have if he refuses to engage in any activityoffered by Mephisto? The Weimar production presents the world of Faust as one of cosmic harmony and social harmony. The forces of good and evil battle over the soul of Faust as he contemplates suicide. Where as in the Weimar production there is no evidence of the physical presence of any force involved in the saving of Faust but Faust himself. In the Weimar production Faust is hero because he participates unaware in the will of the greater cosmic order and in the Dieter dorn Faust is hero because he participates aware of his position in the greater cosmic chaos. Goethe’s Faust presents us with a competent world view. It presents man in the guise of faust as a social animal whose actions have deeper ramifications on those around him. Faust’s actions are the catalyst that lead to the downfall of his fellow characters, Gretchen, Valenitne, and Gretchens mother.“Goethe’s view of evil as a force extending beyond the individual to the whole of society”[1] is of paramount impotance when considering the alternatinve interpretations of the Weimar and Deiter Dorn Productiuons of Goethe’s Faust.


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