Unit 2

Mephistopheles appears to Faust
Faust - Delacroix
Mephistopheles appears to Faust
Eugene Delacroix
Paul Berenson

Read Goethe's Faust, Part I.

Bitte lesen Sie den Text auf Deutsch. Wenn Sie Hilfe brauchen, dürfen Sie den Text auf Englisch anschauen. Antworten Sie auf die Fragen und im Diskussionsforum auf Deutsch oder auf Englisch.

Look over the questions below before you read each part, in order to prepare for the reading.  Take notes as you read.  Then write your responses to the following questions as individual responses or as short essays.  You may also write a summary response on all three introductions. (Discussion 5: Prologues reading journal; post your most interesting response.)

I. Dedication and Prologues. Goethe uses a three-part introduction to the action of his drama, the Dedication, the Prologue in the Theater and the Prologue in Heaven.  Therefore, let's consider this introduction.

  1. How does the Dedication relate to  what we are about to read? Describe how the history of how Goethe created this drama provides a context for this Dedication.

  2. What are the three points of view of the characters in the Prologue in the Theater?  Are these points of view in harmony or do they conflict with each other?  How do these three characters reflect roles Goethe played in his own life?  Do you think Goethe expresses a preference for one of these characters over the others? If so, for which one and why?  How does Goethe prepare the audience for the drama with this Prologue?
  3. Compare the Book of Job with the Prologue in Heaven.  What is the relationship between God and Mephistopheles?  What is the relationship between God and Faust? What kind of a deal do God and the devil make in the Book of Job? Is the same deal made in the Prologue in Heaven? Who do you think will win the wager? How does the theological universe created by Goethe in this work reflect an Enlightenment point of view?

II. Faust. For more helpful questions to guide you through this masterful work, here is a wonderful resource by Professor Paul Bryans that you are sure to find immensely helpful: his Study Guide to Goethe's Faust. (Discussion 6: Goethe's Faust Part I reading journal: post your most interesting response.)

      1. This is our first meeting with Goethe's creation Faust. What makes him tick? What's his problem? How is he coping? Address some of the questions Dr. Bryans puts about the scene "Night."


Faust teaching - from Murnau's film
Faust teaching - from Friedrich Murnau's 1925 film

2. There's a lot of sexual imagery in the scene "Before the City Gate," that takes place on Easter Sunday.  We also learn a little more about Faust and his history.  Address some of the questions Dr. Bryans puts about this scene.

      3. Address some of the questions Dr. Bryans puts about the scenes in Faust's Study. What is the relationship between Faust and Mephistopheles? Which one is the optimist and which one is the pessimist? How do the two scenes compare with each other?  How do they compare with Job, Chapter 4? Pay particular attention to the actual bargain between Faust and Mephistopheles: of what does their contract consist? Who do you think will come out on top, Faust or Mephistopheles? Why?

III. Margaret.

Death of Valentin - Delacroix
Delacroix -The Death of Valentin
with your teacher's reflection
in the glass, taking the photo

For many years, the Gretchen episode was the end of the drama. In fact, the Berlioz opera Faust is based almost exclusively on Margaret (Gretchen). Continue to use Professor Bryan's excellent Study Guide. His questions will lead you to greater insight on the representations of good and evil in the later scenes of Part One.

Klicken Sie hier, um Postkarten mit Faustmotiven anzuschauen.

Think about the following questions as you read.

  • What does Mephistopheles think of Margaret as a match for Faust?
  • How old is Margaret? (It's in the text.)
  • Describe Margaret's family.
  • In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, only the nobility was permitted (or able) to wear jewelry. What significance does this have for our story?
  • What do Faust and Margaret discuss?
  • What happens to Margaret as a result of her liaison with Faust?
  • What happens to her family?
  • What is Faust doing while Margaret's fate unfolds?
  • How does Faust react when he learns of what happened?
  • What is Mephistopheles' role in Faust's liaison with Margaret?
  • What becomes of Margaret?
Gretchen in Prison - Peter Cornelius
McGowan - Gretchen as Mephistopheles

Peter Cornelius
Gretchen im Kerker

Alan McGowan
Gretchen as Mephistopheles

Eugene Delacroix
Faust dans la Prison de Marguerite

Discussion 7: Goethe's Faust, Part I, Continued

Post your most interesting response.

  1. What information from Professor Bryan's Study Guide gave you additional insight into these scenes? How do you interpret the Gretchen episode differently when you take this information into account?
  2. Compare the treatment of "male" and "female" magic, especially with regards to the scene in the "Witch's Kitchen."
  3. Compare the "love interest" of Marlowe's Faust with that of Goethe's Faust. Compare the function of these relationships in the two dramas.