|Compare the Prologue of
Faust to the Book of Job in the Old Testament. What exactly is God's agreement with
Mephistopheles about Faust? How does it compare with God's agreement with Satan about Job?
Give specific examples from both texts to illustrate and support your points.
|In the earlier versions of the Faust
legend, Faust goes to hell because he: a) sells his soul to the devil; b) behaves
foolishly; and c) does not repent. Goethe does not intend to send his Faust to hell at
all. In Faust II (not in your text), he makes this very clear. So, approach this
story of a deal with the devil with an open mind; even the devil serves a useful purpose
in Goethe's notion of the universe. Explain what you think Mephistopheles' purpose is in
Use details from the play to support your ideas.
|Explain whether or not YOU would
send Faust to hell for his behavior. Don't be trivial here. Take into account both God's
agreement with Mephistopheles and Faust's bargain with Mephistopheles. What exactly
is Faust's bargain with Mephistopheles? Are the terms of the agreement met or broken?
Explain thoroughly, referring to specific examples from the play.
|Briefly summarize Faust's
relationship with Margaret/Gretchen (two names for the same woman). Is Faust the only one
to blame in this affair? If not, who else is? Be detailed in supporting your position,
whatever it is. What is Goethe's point in putting in the affair with Margaret? E.g. SO
WHAT? Give specific examples from the play to support your ideas.
|At the beginning of the play, Faust
is a middle-aged scholar who is totally frustrated by his lack of experience with the
"real" world of nature and emotion. His deal with the devil makes him into a
young man with a strong sex drive, who travels around and has various unscholarly
experiences. Do you think Faust learns anything through his deal with the devil? If so,
what does he learn? Give specific examples from the play to support your ideas.
|When Faust asks, "Who are you
then?" Mephistopheles responds: "Part of that force which would/Do evil
evermore, and yet creates the good..../I am the spirit that negates." How does
Mephistopheles' self-definition compare/contrast with the more traditional Christian
notion of the devil? You may have to do a bit of research on standard devils to answer
this one. Give specific examples from the play to support your ideas.
|Mephistopheles is a sophisticated,
deceitful, cold-hearted and manipulative fellow. Look through the play for some good
examples of how he deceives Faust as well as Margaret/Gretchen and others. Now go
back to Tartuffe and look at the devilish hypocrite himself. Can you see any ways
in which Mephistopheles is more "modern" than Tartuffe in his evildoing? What
are the interesting similarities and differences between them? And, of course, SO
WHAT? Give specific examples from both plays to support your ideas.
|Gretchen/Margaret (they are two
versions of the same name, same woman) seems to me like a stereotype of the naive,
"innocent" young girl just waiting for some man to come along and ruin her. What
do you think of this perception of "pure" female nature? Does it seem dated or
do you think there is some deep truth in at least some of her experience, despite the
obvious sexism of the role? (Goethe wrote long before Women's Lib!) Give specific examples
from the play to support your ideas.
|Faust is an intellectual's
conception of a hero--seeking knowledge and understanding and power over nature by any
means. He is very unlike a fellow like Odysseus or Aeneas or Roland, whose striving is
connected to a family or community or religious faith. Faust is one of the early modern
heroes, who are isolated from other human beings, and charge about the world seeking their
own private ends, often causing disaster to others. Choose a more traditional hero you
have read about from an earlier time and compare him to Faust. What "heroic"
qualities, if any, do they share? How are they profoundly different. Be sure to give
examples from BOTH stories to support your ideas.
uses a lot of
folklore and witch lore. Compare the use of this superstitious material with the
enchantments in Keats' "La Belle Dame sans Merci" and/or Akinari's
"Bewitched." Are there any interesting similarities and/or differences.
Use specific examples to support your ideas.
|Compare Mephistopheles in
to Satan in Hugo's "Et nox facta est." Which of these devils seems more like the
traditional Christian devil? Or are both romantic rewrites of the fellow? Compare/contrast
them, using examples from each text to support your points. And don't forget the SO WHAT?
|Double Credit: Watch a video of a
Faust opera: either Berlioz' Damnation of Faust or Gounod's Faust.
Compare/contrast the opera to Goethe's play. Which do you prefer and why? Use specific
details form both the opera and the play to support your ideas. (Worth double credit if
very well done.)
|Double Credit: Read
by Christopher Marlowe and compare/contrast it to Goethe's Faust. (It
also is in
Volume I of the Norton Anthology World Masterpieces.) What interesting
similarities do you see in the two plays? What even more interesting differences? Support
your ideas with specific examples from both plays. (Worth double credit if very well
Read Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse. It tells another "faustian"
story of a highly educated modern (1920's) German man who cannot
appreciate what life has to offer; where Faust complains of having two
conflicting souls, the character in this novel (Harry Haller aka
Steppenwolf) discovers that he has a multitude of souls or personas.
Rather like Faust, the Steppenwolf is near despair and suicide at the
opening of the story, and he has to learn to accept both his own dark
side and the complex unreality of the world. If this intrigues you, read
both Faust and Steppenwolf and
compare/contrast their main characters (Faust and Haller) as they
painfully seek enlightenment through discovery of their senses and
|Get a copy of
the movie Dr. Faustus (Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor) and
watch it. Then compare/contrast it to Goethe's Faust. Not
double credit, alas, but fun.