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Themes of Faust


Themes of Faust

The Enlightenment Custom

The impact of the Age of Enlightenment on the book by Goethe is apparent, because the author lived right because time and supported the ideas of Enlightenment a lot. The Age of Enlightenment has actually begun from the popular work of Rene Descartes called “Discourse and Technique” and its influence grew till it reached its pinnacle in the eighteenth century throughout the French and American Transformations. The main point of Enlightenment that is reflected and gone over in Faust is the key function of reason in whatever: from art to science, in any activity of mankind. In the book we see that Goethe, who typically agreed with the ideas of Knowledge, gets in a substantial discussion about the value of factor and passion, the logical and unreasonable causes for the actions of an individual. He questions the very nature of love and hatred, asking himself via his own character if these sensations can be simulated artificially and if the entirely rational technique can develop a human being as perfect as it is naturally. The 2nd part of the book where the life of Faust and Helen of Troy is revealed all is committed to the metaphorical union of logical and irrational, reasoning and feelings.
Faust is a normal guy of the Age of Knowledge: he is a researcher who tries to justify everything and explain everything in the nature via his experiments and works. Still, Goethe reveals that in this manner is likewise flawed, and no mind is ideal without soul and sensations.

Practically all the literature composed by Goethe raises the issue between mind and heart, however Faust is the most graphical and popular of it all, ending up being the supreme expression of the author’s own worldview.

Factor and Passion

Goethe’s “Faust” is an attempt to manufacture the approaches of Enlightenment that looked for reason in whatever and Romanticism that looked for enthusiasm in the human life. The thinkers of both motions considered each other either mechanic and sterile beings or exaggerating and driven by emotions airheads. Still, Goethe manages to find stability in between this 2 points, reuniting the 2 vital sides of human personality. He creates the suitable of the completely well balanced individual whose enthusiasm is the driving force defining technique, and whose mind is the perfect and sharp tool that offers the method of accomplishing the objective.

As a basis for such merging Goethe used the works of Greek authors– Homer and Aristotle for example. Goethe thought that the ancient Greeks developed the most perfect dream about mankind with passion moderated by reason and factor driven by enthusiasm. In this worldview factor also represents the social requirements while the passion represents the personal, more egotistical requirements.

Reflecting Goethe’s concepts, Faust is likewise torn apart in between Romanticism and Enlightenment at first. When the book opens we see him as a seasoned scientist, who is desperate to find the significance of whatever through science and decides to turn to the magic to accomplish the godlike power and omniscience. So, metaphors aside, he is turning from Knowledge hero to Romantic one. But still, he doesn’t find alleviation in enthusiasm just. He falls in love for Margarete and this affair is stunning and filled with feelings and feelings– however it leaves Faust devastated when the girl dies. Slowly, after some more choices, Faust turns into a wise ruler, able to join his dream and practical method to create the perfect paradise for his people– he ends up being an ideal human according to the ancient Greek requirements.

Another character, who illustrates the idea of synthesis of the two opposite ideas is Homunculus, a synthetically produced little guy living in a vial. He is totally Knowledge by birth, developed with the assistance of science only. However when Homunculus is gotten conscience, he opts for a mission for receiving a soul– a mission that is typical for the Romantic characters. Just balancing body and soul he may end up being equivalent to the people. His mission ends on Walpurgis Night, where Homunculus talks with long deceased or even non-existent mythological personalities like the Ancient Greek theorist Thales or the god of water Proteus. They escort him to the Aegean Sea, where Homunculus lets the water break his vial and clean his body, merging with the world.
Homunculus’ fate contrasts with the fate of Faust’s son Euphorion. The boy is so removed from the world that he enables himself to be amazed by the pure appeal of flight. Not comprehending the laws of nature, he tries to fly and is up to his death.

Science and Spirituality

Among the styles of Faust is the contrast of spirituality and science. It is really similar to the conflict of Romanticism and Knowledge, but on a more personal scale. Faust is a scientist, he is pragmatic and cold-blooded, however the story begins with the minute when he realizes that he has actually reached his limits of understanding. So, with all his scientific approach, he chooses to alter the methods of learning from pragmatic to spiritual. He is still the follower of Enlightenment concepts– however he sees the reason to try magic: to learn more about the world– however he transfers from science to spirituality. Later on he realizes that his very reason to live can’t be determined by the practical approach, turning into an enthusiastic Romantic hero for a while, who thinks his spirituality far more than his trained mind. The conclusion of his spiritual and passionate search happens when Faust fall in love with Gretchen and forgets everything and everyone. Just the lady’s tragic death makes him reassess his newly acquired worldview again

His scientific background keeps Faust near earth still, so he can’t completely separate himself from reality and immerse in spiritual world (as does his kid Euphorion). Science and sharp mind help Faust to move on from Gretchen’s death and later combine science and spirituality into one entire method.

The Romantic Custom

Being more of Knowledge book, Goethe’s Faust still embraces a lot from Romantic traditions. Goethe’s vibrant descriptions of the nature of things and Faust’s words lamenting his failure to become united with the world because he invests his life studying the things, not genuinely feeling them are the traits of Romantic literature. We see the Enlightenment notes that open the book slowly deconstructed and the story going to the full-fledged enthusiastic Romantic poem in the middle of it. When Faust returns from his walk with Wagner where they went over the philosophical concerns and Faust protected the Romantic viewpoint– in his research study he feels satisfied for the first time. He can’t explain this complete satisfaction, it is irrational, however his spirit is raised and motivated. Contrasting it, his practical studies bring Faust brand-new understanding however make him feel dull and worn out, seasoned and not understanding the factor he lives for.

Homunculus is another strictly Romantic character. Produced synthetically he has a hard time to discover his genuine soul and, after a long quest that can be compared to the quests of knights errant, he lastly gets in the Aegean Sea, letting the waves to break his vial and take him away to the spiritual realm, combining Homunculus with the extremely soul of the world.

Goethe states that Nature can’t be completely determined and understood logically: it is the structure of humanity, it’s moral and enthusiasm. Still, turning down the rational part is equally damaging, since the supreme euphoria and dissolving in passions and sensations leads to detachment from the physical reality and to metaphorical or real death.

Intellectualism and the Worth of Words

The intellectualism is naturally presented vividly in the book, due to the fact that the primary character and most of the supporting cast are scholars. Faust and Wagner have a long and intellectual discussion, while Mephistopheles, who tempts Faust with the brand-new understanding, just needs to suit. Throughout the book we see lots of philosophers of the ancient times, who are also enjoying long discussions with our heroes.

Still, all of them determine the value of the word in a different way. While speaking to Wagner, Faust claims that pure intellectualism is impotent and unfulfilling, it is wordplay for wordplay’s sake, without the real, deep understanding of the nature of things. Wagner, however, is much closer to Earth and safeguards the reasonable viewpoint. He is all set to accept the fact that human understanding is limited, however wishes to check out anything within these limitations. Also, they have dramatically various characters, that affect their choice: Faust, despite closing himself in the study, is much more outbound and all set to delight in life, while Wagner is an introvert, who chooses living in his laboratory and is completely content with being alone.

The triumph of intellectualism in the book is development of Homunculus by Wagner. The artificially made human (or nearly human) being signifies reaching the upper limit of the human science and the reasonable technique. It is the ultimate victory of Wagner– but then Homunculus goes further. Being the perfection of rational creations, he follows Faust to find his irrational part and reach transcendence– like Faust himself is searching something beyond scholarship and pure intelligence.

Wagner represents the best that a logical human being can achieve, but there is one secondary character– a student who concerns Faust to get his job– who represents the worst. Here we can see Goethe’s attitude to the value of the words: without deep understanding and devotion they are absolutely nothing more than a set of worthless letters. Listening to his insights that are absolutely not original, however provided by the trainee as the best of discoveries, Mephistopheles comments that there are no thoughts, sensible or dumb, that weren’t thought previously. To mock the student, he even gives him recommendations to remember the concepts of the ancient philosophers without believing them over, just taking them as axioms. Naturally, being the Devil’s suggestions it is clearly seen by the readers as something they shouldn’t do.

Faust also has his minute of frustration in the words, saying that the books are nothing more than a pile of empty however pleasantly sounding words. Mephistopheles though, making laugh at the trainee, right away offers him the understanding that the words can be valuable only with some vital thinking and personal research used to them. Later on we see Faust turning down the meaning of words completely, when he tells Margarete that God created the Universe with the Act not Word and no words can reflect the real nature of the sensations.

Nevertheless, in the end of the book, we see the omniscient chorus, specifying that neither the words nor the sensations alone can produce the entire image. Words are signs of the genuine things and, if they even can’t reveal the God’s face, they still can show it.


Suddenly, but the politics and political life takes a major part of the narrative, particularly in the second part of the book. Faust is immersed into political life right after he fulfills the Emperor, who Mephistopheles flatters into accepting them at his service. The Emperor here is shown as an unskilled ruler, depending on looking for concealed treasures more than on fixing the dysfunctional financial of his empire. The court of the Emperor isn’t useful at all, all of its members are busy playing their own plans and flattering the Emperor, applauding his every decision.
The next choice used by the Devil is quite satirical: Mephistopheles provides to print paper money instead of searching for gold. This supplies a short-term option however later on, the Emperor feeling that his nation is safe, delights in enjoyments increasingly more, delighting in the false sense of success. The hedonistic life diminishes his real power and lastly leads the infuriated country to the bloody revolution.

Another example of the political failure is revealed to us on the Walpurgis Night, while the pygmies are taken part in the fight to death for the newly set up mountain. Their actions are full of sense for them, however for individuals around they appear meaningless and harsh just for the sake of cruelty. This case is utilized as a symbol that any politician ought to keep in mind about them being tiny and irrelevant in comparison with the Universe and never fall into the illusion of success.

The primary failure that the politicians in Faust repeat over and over again is dedication to the short-term objectives with no sustainable technique for the longer term. In the end of the play Faust discovers himself in the comparable circumstance– now he is a politician. But, unfortunately, he understands the significance of technique too late. He handles to build the vision of his Paradise and the strategy to reach this vision, however he doesn’t live enough time to see it brought to life.


The style of subjectivity in Faust is a rather interesting one. It is seldom raised literally, but all the book is devoted to subjectivity. While other epic poems usually concentrate on the actions and deeds of the primary hero, in “Faust” the actions are just showing the true style of the book: the search of self, the subjective experience of life.
At the beginning we see Faust surviving through the existential crisis of his subjectivity. His previous worldview is shattered: he desires more but can’t attain it staying the man he is now. So, all the poem is his mission for the brand-new identity, brand-new subjectivity. He loses his chance for salvation through Gretchen’s love, due to the fact that his psychological part is still not all set to accept the love beyond enthusiasm and love. Goethe explains this similarly to the separation of the two individuals speaking various languages, since of the distinction of their subjectivities and selfish desire to make the other learn their “language”, not vice versa. This selfishness and immaturity of personalities results in the catastrophe that ends the first part of the poem.

The Nature of Life and Death

Faust’s existential crisis leads to the natural concern of the nature of life and death. At the start of the poem we see Faust so desperate that he is practically driven to suicide. The very first question he asks himself is if there is something life can provide him that is much better than the everlasting peace of death? His rational method can’t give him the response to this question, because, according to Goethe, the human mind can’t understand anything that is bigger than itself. As every human being Faust is thrilled to discover if there is something beyond death and are humans a part of the bigger strategy or their existence is completely meaningless.

The rest of the characters also are tortured by this question: Gretchen feels that the meaning of her life is her love to Faust and passes away when her impression is broken. Homunculus also seeks for himself and decides that life, as he knows it, isn’t worth living when he is provided to turn into one with the world. Euphorion, the unfortunate son of Faust and Helen of Troy, is so immersed in his feelings and feelings, that he compromises his life without thinking to get some severe, delighted emotions.
At the end of the poem, Faust’s handle Mephistopheles is broken and he is ascended to Heaven. His salvation is the outcome of his uneasy look for transcendence and the meaning of life and death. Faust finds his significance, the possibility to develop Utopia and make people pleased– this sensation overwhelms him so much that he states it worth living for and, after experiencing it, he is not scared of death. Faust discovers the sense of his life by himself, without the aid of the Devil, so that their offer isn’t legitimate any longer.

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