FAUST INTRODUCTION The purpose of this paper is to introduce and discuss the play ?Faust,? by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
THE PLAY Some critics believe Goethe?s 1808 version of ?Faust? is a masterpiece of musical comedy, with a happy ending, even though many viewers feel it ends in tragedy. The villain, Mephistopheles, (the devil) is really quite congenial, and the hero of the play, Faust, is sometimes more of a villain than a hero.
The actual legend of Faust is much older than this play. Christopher Marlowe wrote a similar story in the 1600s, and storytellers passed the legend around orally in Germany for centuries. There are many different versions of the legend, but Goethe?s is the most recognized, and most studied.
Faust is an ordinary man, with the ordinary worries and displeasures of just about anyone. In the beginning of the play, he says, ?I've studied now Philosophy, And Jurisprudence, Medicine, And even, alas! Theology, All through and through with ardour keen! Here now I stand, poor fool, and see, I'm just as wise as formerly.
Am called a Master, even Doctor too, And now I've nearly ten years through, Pulled my students by their noses to and fro, And up and down, across, about, And see there's nothing we can know! That all but burns my heart right out? (Goethe). At that moment, without the archaic language, he could be expressing the emotions any frustrated academic anywhere, in any time.
Goethe creates a normal man, set in unusual circumstances, to make the play seem more real. Yet, in the scene with the poodle, he conjures up a spell, as if he is some sort of magician. First, we see him as an academic, and now an alchemist, except he summons the devil. Here is an ordinary professor, loved...