Faust by Goethe
Many research papers discuss the archetypal tale of an ambitious, dissatisfied man who bargains with the devil as a means of achieving his goals has persisted for centuries, with renderings extant in many different cultures and literary traditions. In many of these tales, the overarching theme is one of forbidden knowledge, transgressing the boundaries between God and man, and the deleterious consequences that can arise when a person does not adhere to the natural order.
Though term papers on Goethe’s Faust also encompasses these ideas, it adds an additional element that is not thoroughly addressed in any of the previous treatments of this story, namely, that of love. The most explicit evidence of this is in Goethe’s inclusion of the relationship between Faust and Gretchen, which does not figure prominently in any other version. This term paer will seek to delineate the role of love throughout the play, exploring the way that Goethe employs the unique thematic significance of the concept of love to highlight and emphasize the traditional ideas associated with the Faust tale. First, the concept of spiritual love in the play will be examined. Then, Faust’s conflicted relationship with Gretchen will be discussed. Finally, the interconnection between spiritual and carnal love will be explored. In conclusion, the overarching significance of love in the play will be summarized and reiterated.
Goethe’s unique reimagining of the Faust tale takes as its focus love and the absence of love. At the outset of the play, Faust’s discontentment and unhappiness with life are fuelled by the absence of a compelling positive reason to live, which, later in the text, he discovers through his relationship with Gretchen. Many literary scholars have stated that Goethe’s adept representation of the malaise and despondency of modern man encapsulated the spirit of late eighteenth-century Europe, accounting for his play’s popularity and longevity.