Thought's on Goethe's Faust

Essay by jesusmorphineUniversity, Bachelor'sA, February 2004

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"God affirms and creates, the devil denies and destroys" (Thomas 1xxvi). The concept of good and evil has been around since essentially the Beginning, the dawn of life, with Adam and Eve determining the course of humanity for all to come under the persuasion of evil. Always associated with the concepts of "good" and "evil" then, are the two most powerful spiritual forces recognized by mankind; God and Satan. The latter of the two has always existed to sway mankind, to deceive them in the hopes of luring them away from the promise of eternal life in Heaven, and to have them spend eternity as a tormented soul in Hell. This idea, once again rings true in Goethe's "Faust". Goethe presents us with a philosopher, one who is fed up with the asinine task of living his life day in and day out, when he knows that true knowledge will always evade him.

This gives pretense for the Devil himself to offer "aid" to the man, Faust, in exchange for his soul once he believes he has attained true and utter enlightenment. The Devil, in this case takes on a physical form, and is presented in the shape of Mephistopheles. The concept of the Devil as being evil is played out fully in this poem, but not entirely in the way one might think. Surprisingly, some good comes from the use of Mephistopheles as I will explain shortly. The story evolves into Faust obtaining the knowledge he seeks, as well as becoming acquainted with a young maid named Margaret, and eventually being overcome by the power of the Devil when he meets his demise. Mephistopheles is used very efficiently in this poem in many ways. Principally, the character of Mephistopheles is used to test the limits of the...