I read Faust during the Christmas holiday and so it’s been a while: we talked about the drama during the whole months of January and February and actually wanted to write our exam straight away, but then corona and lockdown complicated the situation. I’m back in school now and have to take my exam on Tuesday and so I’ve had so spend a little more time with Goethe again – so here are my new and more-structured, well-informed thoughts!
When I first read the book, I gave it a very surprising rating – 4 out of 5 stars. I really enjoyed it, it was meaningful, had a great plot and depicted the topics of society in a fabulous way. I really struggled with the writing at first, but that was, thank God, no problem now: after interpreting and analyzing the drama in school, I now understood all the references and deeper meanings.
As an exam, we have to write a literary argumentation/discussion, where we get a thesis and have to find arguments for/against said thesis on the basis of the book and while I struggled very hard at the beginning, it’s actually super easy after really paying attention to the key aspects of the book. I thought I’d just show you a couple of thesis and argument for/against them!
Faust’s character development
Faust starts off at being a very self-centered, egoistic scientist struggling to find understanding and knowledge on the fundaments of life. Unable to gain understanding himself, he aligns himself with Mephisto (the devil) and makes a bet: Mephisto can have his soul if he manages to get Faust satisfaction and fulfillment in life. Faust then sleeps with Gretchen aware of the social scandal it would pose and the social proscription it would entail for Gretchen, while not affecting him as a man. While he has certain moments of self-realization and hesitance, he finds himself too attached to Mephisto and goes through with it, inconsiderate of his responsibility.
After bearing a child, Gretchen finds herself isolated and spat upon by society and murders her child, being sent to prison in response. After finding out, Faust begs Mephisto to rescue her and they make their way to the cellar where she’s being executed the next day. He tries to safe her, but she wouldn’t let him as she realizes his incapability to show love and affection and his and her fault. Instead, she chooses death and God’s judgement. However, Faust does show moral development as he tries to save her and acknowledges his responsibility in the matter.
Gretchen, the religious and innocent young girl
Gretchen is the embodiment of piety and devoutness: she’s religious in every way and wishes to act the way society wishes. Her primary motivation when sleeping with Faust is marrying him, thereby moving up the social latter and fulfilling the role as a housewife. Even though she murders her child, sins in the matter of illegitimate sexual relation and then her brother and mother dying as a consequence, she finds her way back to her religion in the end: she rejects Faust and his motives to rescue her and instead realizes her responsibility and faults and hands herself over to God’s judgement with the finale sentence in the drama being a voice coming from heaven “She is saved”.
Well – that was it, a bit different from what I usually post, but I have to say it really helped me to arrange my thoughts for the exam and maybe gave you a bit insight into the world of Faust and the related themes and subjects! Happy reading!