It’s finally done – I just finished Faust and I am beyond happy to not have died. In the history of every German student to have ever walked the planet, this famous play by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is considered the hardest, weirdest and worst play ever. Here are my slightly different thoughts, aka not too bad!
When Mephisto, the devil, meets God in heaven, they come up with a deal: God is confident that every human on earth will find the right path even in the darkest of times and not give in to the devil. Mephisto, however, is convinced that he is able to lure Faust, the greatest scholar of his time, and introduce him to the evil side. If Mephisto shall succeed, God grants him Faust’s soul to serve the devil after death, convinced that every person will believe in God.
Faust, who struggles with religion, the power of knowledge and suicide, agrees to Mephisto’s deal of showing him the very best of the world – if he wishes one moment to last, his soul goes to the devil. Together, Mephisto is eager to show Faust the world and not much later, they meet Faust’s love Gretchen, who will change their path forever…
Genre: Play, Classics
Publication Date: 1832
First, let me say: wow. I had the very worst expectations for this German classic. Everyone seems to hate it, and I really wonder why. It did take me a lot of time and I was only able to understand it while being shut off from everyone else, with a pencil in my hand and concentrating on what is meant (and occasionally also googling certain scenes and their meaning), but overall, it was an enjoyable read and something one has to be aquatinted with when living in Germany.
The plot was great. Goethe managed to create a play where every possible deep subject plays an important role, especially for the time it was written. Faust struggles to believe in God (religion was everything back then) and questions the ability to actually know something and be certain of anything. Furthermore, the subjects love and hate, enlightenment, comprehension and much more. The greatest aspect, all in all, was really the profound discussion of all the meaningful and deep subjects which make you think and overthink the book again and again.
The characters were complex and resembled humans in general which was super interesting to witness. Faust was torn apart between giving in to Mephisto and loving the very religious Gretchen and that displayed his inner conflict quite well. Mephisto was my favorite character because even though he was the devil, he wasn’t always outright evil, he was funny and he even said that he mourns for the poor people on earth – so, he did cause some funny moments!
The writing was the one thing I struggled with. Overall, being really concentrated while reading helped understanding the plot. However, so many many metaphors made the text very difficult and sometimes I was completely lost and had to google a scene interpretation to grasp the meaning of the sentence. Also, everything is written in verse and I’m not the biggest fan of that – but obviously, that’s basic knowledge when you read a play.
Recommendable: for someone interested in classic literature and deep questions!
Overall, it was enjoyable, suspenseful and meaningful. I had fun while reading (even though it’s for school), I just hope that when talking and interpreting in class, I don’t loose interest. Because (and am I alone here or do you feel the same?) every time I read a book for school and enjoy it, I always end up hating it after having talked and talked about it forever in class…