Faust

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Heinrich Faust Character Analysis

The intelligent, learned, and nature-loving Faust begins the drama as a scholar bitterly dissatisfied with the limitations of human knowledge. He wants to be nothing less than a god, and he knows that his books cannot help him to this end. In his despair, he makes a deal with the devil Mephistopheles, who promises to serve him by means of black magic on one condition: if Faust ever yields himself to idle pleasures and sloth—if he ever spiritually stagnates—the devil wins the man’s immortal soul. Faust agrees, and with Mephistopheles at his disposal he undertakes a lifelong quest for meaning and transcendence. But Faust is essentially restless and never satisfied. His love affair with Margarete brings him only fleeting joy, and results in Margarete’s tragic downfall and death. His marriage to the Classical Greek ideal of beauty, Helen of Troy, likewise leads to tragedy in the death of Faust and Helen’s son, Euphorion. After these failures to attain to lofty ideals of love and beauty, Faust learns to accept his limitations and turns his efforts to the earth, becoming a generally just but also rather severe ruler of a seaside kingdom. He also grows increasingly resistant to Mephistopheles, and, in his final hours, resolves to renounce magic and create a Utopian kingdom with justice, prosperity, and love for all. Faust never does spiritually stagnate and so his soul is ultimately saved. In heaven, it follows Margarete’s soul into the higher spheres of divine love.

Heinrich Faust Quotes in Faust

The Faust quotes below are all either spoken by Heinrich Faust or refer to Heinrich Faust. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Reason and Passion Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Princeton University Press edition of Faust published in 2014.
Part 1: Night (Faust’s Study 1) Quotes

I’ve studied now, to my regret,
Philosophy, Law, Medicine,
and—what is worst—Theology
from end to end with diligence.
Yet here I am, a wretched fool
and still no wiser than before.

Related Characters: Heinrich Faust (speaker)
Page Number: 354-359
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, we're introduced to our protagonist, Faust, a wise man who's studied all the knowledge of the world and come up strangely lacking. Faust supposedly knows everything there is to know about Philosophy, Medicine, Theology, etc.--and yet his knowledge brings him no satisfaction (confirming Mephistopheles's theory, expressed in the previous quote; knowledge causes unhappiness).

It's been suggested that Faust is something of a "stand-in" for Goethe himself: Goethe was one of the most educated, talented, and intelligent people of all time. Just as Faust sees human knowledge as somehow insufficient, Goethe's writings paved the way for Romanticism, the cultural movement that placed value on individual freedom and intuitive wisdom, rather than merely the soulless accumulation of knowledge (the Enlightenment worldview). When humanity's knowledge is limitless, there's still something missing from life: a sense of belonging, love, and joy. It's telling, then, that Faust is all alone in this scene: his knowledge and education have deprived him of intimate connections with his fellow human beings.

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No dog would want to linger on like this!
That is why I’ve turned to magic,
in hope that with the help of spirit-power
I might solve many mysteries,
so that I need no longer toil and sweat
to speak of what I do not know,
can learn what, deep within it,
binds the universe together,
may contemplate all seminal forces—
and be done with peddling empty words.

Related Characters: Heinrich Faust (speaker)
Page Number: 376-385
Explanation and Analysis:

In the absence of help from Philosophy, Theology, etc., Faust turns to magic in the hope of bringing comfort to his soul. Faust is an educated man, and yet the world's established, preexisting knowledge seems dry and useless to him: it educates him but doesn't nourish him. Magic, on the other hand, appeals to Faust because it's undiscovered, and has the potential to give him truly godlike knowledge. Here Faust would truly be a stranger in a strange land, investigating a mysterious, uncertain discipline.

Because the passage shows Faust venturing into the unknown, it tells us a lot about his character. We knew that Faust was dissatisfied with his lot in life, but here, we see that he's still energetic and adventurous enough to try something new. Faust has internalized all the world's knowledge, but his knowledge hasn't made him dull or cautious: on the contrary, it's just made him hungry for more knowledge. Indeed, his restlessness and ambition are arguably his defining qualities, those that bring about both his downfall and his salvation.

The passage also conveys some of Faust's arrogance and hubris: instead of accepting his status as God's servant, he wants to know the mind of God and understand the forces that bind the universe together. Like so many of the fictional magicians and mad scientists whom Goethe's Faust inspired, Faust will arrogantly try to "play God," and face punishment for his actions.

How all things interweave as one
and work and live each in the other!

How grand a show! But still, alas! mere show.
Infinite Nature, when can I lay hold of you
and of your breasts?

Related Characters: Heinrich Faust (speaker)
Related Symbols: Nature and the Earth Spirit
Page Number: 447-456
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, we get a better sense of what, exactly, is lacking in Faust's life. Faust reads a book in which he comes across a passage about the macrocosmic nature of the universe. Faust learns that the universe is all one harmonious whole--every tiny part of the world has its grander purpose and locks in with the other parts.

Faust's newfound knowledge of the universe, however, doesn't bring him much happiness. It's not enough for Faust to learn that the universe has a purpose; Faust wants to experience that purpose first-hand, instead of trusting that the purpose exists. In short, Faust doesn't want to be a cog in a machine anymore--he wants to understand and touch the machine itself.

Note the physical nature of this passage--Faust talks about "laying hold" of Nature, whom he personifies as a beautiful woman. It's certainly possible to suggest that Faust is simply deprived of love and human companionship: he's trying to find passion and eros in science and philosophy, and so of course he comes up short. And yet Faust's observations about Nature could suggest that knowledge itself has an almost erotic quality: the mixture of power, domination, and love that Faust feels as he talks about nature shows us that Faust is trying to fit all of human contact and experience into his crazed experiments.

Is parchment then the sacred fount,
and does one drink from it forever to slake our thirst?
There’s nothing you can gain refreshment from
except what has its source in your own soul.

Related Characters: Heinrich Faust (speaker), Wagner
Page Number: 566-569
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Faust has an argument with his assistant, Wagner, about the value of knowledge and education. The two men's positions have been interpreted to reflect the two dominant intellectual positions of European thought at the time, the Enlightenment and Romanticism. Wagner argues that book-learning is useful because it fills the mind with useful knowledge; one could argue that his point of view is characteristic of the Age of Enlightenment (the era when the encyclopedia, the dictionary, and the modern school system came into being). But Faust disagrees with his assistant: it's not enough, he claims, for books to fill the mind with information--they must nourish the soul as well. Faust argues that the best books don't really introduce new information at all; instead, they merely provide the answers to questions that the mind, or rather, the soul, has already posed in some way.

Faust's observations, complicated though they are, suggest why his pursuits of knowledge so far have failed. Faust has gotten a lot of information from his books, and yet there's a sense, deep down, that he hasn't really satisfied his soul's desires yet. Faust doesn't yet know what he wants to know; he's out of touch with what his soul is "thirsty" for.

Part 1: Outside the City Gate Quotes

Alas! it is so hard to find corporeal wings
that match those of the human mind.
Yet in all of us there is an innate urge
to rise aloft and soar along
when, lost in the blue space above us,
the lark pours forth its vibrant song,
when high above fir-covered crags
the eagle floats on outspread wing,
and when above the plains and lakes
the crane seeks out its native place.

Related Characters: Heinrich Faust (speaker), Wagner
Related Symbols: Nature and the Earth Spirit
Page Number: 1090-1099
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Faust and his assistant, Wagner, go outside Faust's study to survey the city they live in. Outside, Faust notices an entire city of people walking outside, socializing, and having a good time. The scene prompts Faust to note that all human beings feel a desire to "soar" in some way or other. For animals like the eagle, soaring is a literal affair--the eagle flies overhead, savoring the vistas of Earth. For ordinary people, it's implied, "soaring" is a matter of ambition, but also being around other people, enjoying the city and nature, drinking, etc.--such interpersonal interactions bring joy and comfort to the soul.

The passage seems to suggest that Faust can find some happiness and comfort in socializing with his fellow human beings. And yet there's also a suggestion that for Faust, socializing and enjoying the city simply aren't enough. Because of Faust's massive intellect, he feels apart from other human beings, even when he's around them--he wants to "soar" in a way that others don't.

Part 1: Faust’s Study 2 Quotes

My spirit prompts me, now I see a solution
and boldly write: “In the beginning was the Act.”

Related Characters: Heinrich Faust (speaker)
Page Number: 1236-1237
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Faust rewrites the New Testament, beginning with the Book of John. Faust looks at the famous first verse of the Book, in which we're told, "In the beginning was the word." Faust is dissatisfied with such a view of life: he finds words dry and ultimately empty. Faust has spent his entire life studying various "words," and he's emerged none the happier. Here, Faust crosses out the word "word," and replaces it with a series of other words, culminating in "act."

What does it mean for Faust to replace "word" with "act?" To begin with, it's a sign of Faust's hubris and arrogance that he's daring to rewrite the Bible at all. But furthermore, Faust's rewriting suggests that he's tiring of passivity in all its forms. Faust is no longer content to sit in a study reading books--he wants to use his knowledge to understand and dominate the world. By acting instead of just reading, Faust hopes to bring himself a sense of control and power. Faust, one could argue, is the true Romantic hero: instead of accepting the "word" (i.e., the law, whether of Christianity or of society) he seeks to make a new law for himself by acting on his own.

[I am] a part of that force
which, always willing evil, always produces good.

Related Characters: Mephistopheles (speaker), Heinrich Faust
Page Number: 1335-1336
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Faust finally meets Mephistopheles, generally considered the "villain" of the poem. Mephistopheles is the incarnation of the Devil, who's come to tempt Faust into wickedness. And yet Mephistopheles introduces himself to Fast by claiming to be a force for good, even when he intends to be a force of evil. Mephistopheles is a servant of the Devil, meaning that ultimately, he's less powerful than almighty God. Mephistopheles tries to do the Devil's will, and yet in the grand scheme of things, every evil deed the Devil does turns out to be a good thing for the human race. Just as Judas's betrayal of Christ seemed like an act of wickedness, but turned out to be a "good" thing (since it led to Christ's redeeming mankind's sins forever), Mephistopheles's manipulations seem wicked, but in the end God will use them to make Faust a better man. Goethe's notion of the relationship between good and evil (evil never wins in the end, and is just another tool for God to bring about greater good) is consonant with centuries of Christian theology, dating all the way back to the Middle Ages.

Part 1: Faust’s Study 3 Quotes

Take my word for it, anyone who thinks too much
is like an animal that in a barren heath
some evil spirit drives around in circles
while all about lie fine green pastures.

Related Characters: Mephistopheles (speaker), Heinrich Faust
Page Number: 1830-1833
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Faust and Mephistopheles have arranged a contract (setting in motion the events of the rest of the poem). Mephistopheles notes that Faust has agreed to the corrupt bargain (in which Faust will be granted unlimited power, until the moment when he wishes to "linger," at which time he'll lose his life and soul) because Faust is dissatisfied with his own knowledge and enlightenment. Mephistopheles reminds Faust that intelligence is a prison: the ignorant man can more readily embrace the glories of God (the "green pastures," perhaps an allusion to the Bible's famous 23rd Psalm), while Faust is too smart to embrace God whole-heartedly.

The passage is a good reminder of how Mephistopheles is both a figure of good and a figure of evil. Mephistopheles wants to take Faust's life for himself, and yet he also seems to understand Faust deeply: he recognizes, for instance, that Faust's study has brought him knowledge but not spiritual enlightenment. Mephistopheles is both Faust's worst enemy and his best friend in the play.

Part 1: Auerbach’s Wine-Cellar in Leipzig Quotes

Simple folk never sense the devil’s presence,
not even when his hands are on their throats.

Related Characters: Mephistopheles (speaker), Heinrich Faust, Frosch, Brander, Siebel, Altmayer
Page Number: 2181-2182
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Mephistopheles and Faust go to a wine-cellar, where a party is underway. Mephistopheles proceeds to explore the cellar and manipulate the other guests, using his command of language and his "devilish" twisting of logic and reason. As he prepares to trick the guests into sinning, Mephistopheles makes an observation to Faust: people are always unwilling to believe that they're being manipulated by the devil, even when it's overwhelmingly obvious that they are.

Mephistopheles's behavior is interesting, because he's being so upfront about the fact that he's manipulating other people, even when he speaks to Faust. Faust seems to know that Mephistopheles will try to tempt him into weakness--in other words, he knows perfectly well that the devil is present in his life with his "hand on his throat." In short, the passage shows Mephistopheles seeming to treat Faust as an equal, rather than just another mortal victim. As the poem goes on, Mephistopheles will continue to show Faust the ways of evil, effectively showing his human companion how the devil goes about his business.

Part 1: A Garden Quotes

Don’t be afraid! Look in my eyes,
let them and let these hands that now clasp yours
express what tongue can never say:
complete devotion and a sense of bliss
that must endure eternally!
Eternally!—Its end would be despair.
There must not be an end! Not ever!

Related Characters: Heinrich Faust (speaker), Margarete/A Penitent
Page Number: 3188-3194
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, we see Faust falling for a beautiful, humble girl named Gretchen. Gretchen is an unusual match for Faust, since she's rather simple and ordinarily-educated (she doesn't have even a fraction of the knowledge and training that Faust does). And yet Gretchen has something that Faust can never have: she's happy and innocent--one could say that Faust and Gretchen are, respectively, like Adam after the Fall of Man and Eve before the Fall (notice that the scene takes place in a garden!).

In this scene, we see Faust wishing for happiness and eternity: because of his feelings for Gretchen, he wants to be happy with her forever. Such a desire is precisely what Faust promised never to feel when he made his agreement with Mephistopheles. And yet the poem doesn't end here: there's still a sense that Faust, in spite of saying that he wants to be with Gretchen forever, doesn't actually believe it completely. Faust is, as always, disjointed--his words don't quite match his feelings. There's still a part of him that's tired of life and eager to move on to the next thing.

Part 1: Gretchen’s Room Quotes

My heart is heavy,
all peace is gone,
I’ll never find it,
never, again.
My breast is yearning
to be with him;
could I but clasp
and hold him tight,
and kiss him
as my heart desires,
under his kisses
I’d swoon and die!

Related Characters: Margarete/A Penitent (speaker), Heinrich Faust
Page Number: 3402-3413
Explanation and Analysis:

Gretchen is a tragic character, because she seems to love Faust whole-heartedly, and yet her love for Faust will bring her only pain and anguish, not happiness. Already, Gretchen finds herself abandoned by her lover: Faust has left Gretchen, at least for the time being. In Faust's absence, Gretchen is distraught: she cries that she'll be in constant pain unless she can see Faust again. If she could only kiss him, she goes on, she would die of happiness.

Gretchen's unbridled love for Faust signals her innocence and ignorance of the world--she barely knows Faust, after all (though the shortness of her relationship might just be part of the artifice of the play). Gretchen is, for all appearances, a totally innocent character, whose sweetness and kindness will be harshly punished (as we'll see soon enough).

Part 2: Act 1: An Imperial Palace: A Dark Gallery Quotes

You are the father of all mystagogues
who ever cheated docile neophytes,
but you reverse their method—send me to a void
for higher wisdom and for greater powers.
You’re making me the cat whose task it is
to pull your chestnuts from the fire.
But do not stop! Let’s probe the matter fully,
since in your Nothingness I hope to find my All.

Related Characters: Heinrich Faust (speaker), Mephistopheles
Page Number: 6249-6256
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Mephistopheles (who's been tasked with summoning Paris and Helen to the Emperor's court) explains to Faust that he's about to enter into a mysterious zone in which there's no space or time. This space, the land of the "Mothers," will be lonely and foreign to Faust--it will be, in essence, Nothingness incarnate. Faust senses that Mephistopheles is manipulating him into the world of Nothingness in order to bring out Helen and Paris for him--Faust compares himself to a cat pulling out hot chestnuts from a fire because the cat's owner is too scared to do so himself. Thus, Faust shoots back that he hopes to find enlightenment in Nothingness: in fact, he hopes to find All there. He's not afraid of doing Mephistopheles' dirty work for him.

The passage is exceptionally confusing because of the way it treats "nothing" like a 'thing." Mephistopheles is the master of nothingness, because in Christian theology, evil is considered the absence of good; i.e., nothingness itself. And yet in the realm of nothingness, from which Faust and Mephistopheles will summon Paris and Helen of Troy, Faust hopes to find glory--a boundless sense of power, creativity, and domination. 

Part 2: Act 1: An Imperial Palace: Knight’s Hall Quotes

Does some more inward sense than sight perceive
the overflowing fountainhead of beauty?
My dread ordeal is gloriously rewarded.
How circumscribed and empty was my world before!
Now, with this priesthood, it at last becomes
desirable and has a lasting basis.

Related Characters: Heinrich Faust (speaker), Helen of Troy
Page Number: 6487-6492
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Faust comes face-to-face with the spirit of Helen of Troy, the famously beautiful woman who indirectly caused the Trojan War. Helen of Troy is the embodiment of the Classical ideal: the Greco-Roman model of what is beautiful and desirable. Faust is immediately drawn to Helen of Troy; he finds her enchanting, the very thing his soul has desired all along, and he falls instantly in love.

It's been argued that Faust, the embodiment of European Enlightenment and Romanticism, is naturally attracted to Helen, the embodiment of the Greco-Roman tradition, because the former could not exist without the latter. The passage has also been taken as a symbol for the "marriage" between modern Europe and its classic past: during Goethe's lifetime, there was a tremendous revival of interest in the classical era. Other critics, such as Franco Moretti, have interpreted the scene as a veiled metaphor for the wave of colonization and imperial domination that began during Goethe's lifetime: just as Faust comes to dominate the beautiful, exotic Helen, so did the great European nations of Goethe's lifetime come to dominate the other countries of the world, from which European culture was "descended."

Part 2: Act 5: Faust’s Palace (Before the Palace) Quotes

The worst of torments we can suffer
is to feel want when we are rich.
The tinkling bell, the lindens’ scent,
make me feel buried in a crypt.

Related Characters: Heinrich Faust (speaker), Baucis and Philemon
Page Number: 11,251-11,254
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Faust's domination of the kingdom is almost total. He's won control of the land, using Mephistopheles' help. And yet he remains unhappy. He's won the kingdom for himself, and yet he can't quite savor his victory: he doesn't feel that he truly "owns" or otherwise possesses his own property (which he wants in order to pursue his goal of "pushing back the waters"). Faust imagines that he'd be truly happy if only Philemon and Baucis were evicted from their property.

Faust isn't exactly a tyrant, but he seeks total domination of the material world, so he can't stand that Philemon and Baucis stand in his way. He is ever ambitious and restless, as usual, and so always desires more, even when what he desires belongs to someone else.

Part 2: Act 5: Faust’s Palace (The Large Outer Courtyard) Quotes

If only I might see that people’s teeming life,
share their autonomy on unencumbered soil;
then, to the moment, I could say:
tarry a while, you are so fair—
the traces of my days on earth
will survive into eternity!—
Envisioning those heights of happiness,
I now enjoy my highest moment.

Related Characters: Heinrich Faust (speaker)
Page Number: 11,579-11,586
Explanation and Analysis:

Faust has studied almost every field, but in the end, it's political science and city planning that strike him as presenting an opportunity for true, fundamental happiness. Faust wants to drain a large marsh, creating a huge, green space in which people will be able to work happily and freely. Faust wishes that he could drain the marsh and free the "unencumbered soil" beneath it--such an achievement would lead him to be totally, completely happy; it would be his defining achievement as a mortal man.

In this scene, Faust approaches death, because he's finally said the fatal words, "tarry a moment, you are so fair," that signal his satisfaction. And yet, as we'll come to see, Faust's soul is saved (even though he dies) because he never actually succeeded in enacting his vision of the ideal city. Faust wants to savor a moment in his utopian kingdom, and yet because that moment never actually comes to be--the utopia remains unbuilt--Faust is ultimately saved from the terms of his bargain. His constant restlessness and ambition, which initially led to his deal with the devil, now act as his salvation. There is something eminently Romantic in the manner of Faust's death: he dies striving for greatness, rather than having achieved it himself.

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Heinrich Faust Character Timeline in Faust

The timeline below shows where the character Heinrich Faust appears in Faust. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Prologue in Heaven
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The Human Desire for Meaning and Transcendence Theme Icon
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Intellectualism and the Value of Words Theme Icon
...devil himself, is reluctant to antagonize them. The Lord asks if Mephistopheles is familiar with Faust, a doctor and the Lord’s faithful servant. Mephistopheles knows him to be a man who... (full context)
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Mephistopheles proposes a bet: that the Lord will lose Faust to temptation and sin if He permits the devil to gently guide the man. The... (full context)
Part 1: Night (Faust’s Study 1)
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The scholar Faust sits restlessly at his desk in his narrow, high-ceilinged Gothic study. He regrets having studied... (full context)
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As much as Faust wants to roam in the moonlight and rejuvenate himself by doing so, he is still... (full context)
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Faust opens Nostradamus’ book to the sign of the Macrocosm: the whole universe in its harmonious... (full context)
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Angrily Faust turns the pages of the book until he comes to the sign of the Earth... (full context)
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...moon hides, and the lamp’s flame vanishes. Mists arise and beams of red flash about. Faust feels a dreadful chill, and senses that the Spirit he was praying to has come.... (full context)
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Faust turns away in fear. The Earth Spirit wonders whether the frightful worm now in his... (full context)
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There is a knocking at the study door. Faust curses at being interrupted during his happiest moment of most plentiful visions. Faust opens the... (full context)
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Faust disparages the pretty speeches that Wagner admires, and the two begin debating the values of... (full context)
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It is getting late, and Faust proposes that the two stop their debate for now. Wagner would have liked to stay... (full context)
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Alone, Faust thinks about how greedy for superficialities Wagner is, and resents him for knocking when he,... (full context)
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Faust despairs of ever being godlike, cramped as he is by countless useless things. He addresses... (full context)
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Suddenly, Faust’s eye is caught by a vial in his possession that contains a poisonous extract. The... (full context)
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Right as Faust prepares to drink, however, he hears church bells and a choir of angels, women, and... (full context)
Part 1: Outside the City Gate
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Faust and Wagner enter the scene. Faust observes that the rivers and brooks are thawing as... (full context)
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An old peasant comes upon Faust and Wagner. He tells Faust that it is good of him to be out and... (full context)
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Faust and Wagner resume their walk. Wagner is impressed by how much the villagers respect Faust.... (full context)
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Wagner wonders how Faust can be disturbed at all by his father’s actions, seeing as how he was only... (full context)
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Faust retorts that Wagner only knows one desire, whereas he himself has two souls at once:... (full context)
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Faust sees something that holds his interest: a black dog. Wagner says he saw the dog... (full context)
Part 1: Faust’s Study 2
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Faust enters his study with the poodle, feeling that his better soul has been awakened by... (full context)
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Faust resolves to translate the New Testament, specifically the Gospel of John, out of its original... (full context)
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The poodle begins barking and Faust invites it out of the study, only for the animal to transform into a large... (full context)
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...kind of religious cleric. He had been hiding in the poodle all along. Mephistopheles congratulates Faust on his learnedness, for the scholar had made the devil sweat indeed. Faust asks the... (full context)
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Faust says he understands: since the devil can’t destroy everything at once, he must settle for... (full context)
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...drawn, and didn’t notice it as a poodle, but he is now imprisoned by it. Faust is pleased by this surprising triumph. When asked why he can’t just leave by another... (full context)
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Faust thinks a devil in hand, however, is well worth keeping, and Mephistopheles trapped himself, after... (full context)
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At last Mephistopheles dismisses the choir of spirits he has summoned, for Faust has fallen to sleep. This scholar is not yet the man, the devil says, to... (full context)
Part 1: Faust’s Study 3
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Faust is in his study when he hears a knock at the door: it is Mephistopheles... (full context)
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Mephistopheles asks Faust why he didn’t drink the poison on that Easter night then. Faust explains the effect... (full context)
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Mephistopheles starts talking business: he offers to become Faust’s companion and guide through life, his servant and his slave, at the man’s beck and... (full context)
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Faust suspects that Mephistopheles intends to deceive him, however, to give him food that cannot satisfy,... (full context)
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For insurance, Mephistopheles also requires that the agreement be sealed in writing. Faust scoffs at this pedantic formality, and thinks his word of honor should suffice, but at... (full context)
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Faust looks forward to giving up his search for knowledge and welcoming instead pain and suffering... (full context)
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Faust hears one of his students in the hallway, but he feels that he cannot face... (full context)
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The student enters the study. Mephistopheles, pretending to be Faust himself, welcomes him. The student says he is committed to learning, but doesn’t like being... (full context)
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Faust enters and asks where he and Mephistopheles will go first. Wherever you please, the devil... (full context)
Part 1: Auerbach’s Wine-Cellar in Leipzig
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Faust and Mephistopheles enter the wine-cellar. The devil intends to first introduce his master to partying... (full context)
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...notion, that is, until the devil offers to bring up some bottles from his and Faust’s private cellar, a plan all heartily approve of. Mephistopheles requests an auger, a drill-like tool,... (full context)
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Faust tells Mephistopheles that he wishes to go, but the devil says they must wait to... (full context)
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...really one another’s noses. Mephistopheles chants a counter-charm, removing the spell, then immediately disappears with Faust. (full context)
Part 1: Witch’s Kitchen
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Faust and Mephistopheles enter a vaporous, grotesque witch’s kitchen where a female ape tends to a... (full context)
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While Mephistopheles inquires about various utensils on the walls, Faust is gazing into a magic mirror in which he sees the beautiful form of a... (full context)
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...berates the ape for forgetting the kettle and scorching her mistress. Then the witch sees Faust and Mephistopheles and threatens to torment their bones with fire. In response, Mephistopheles joyfully shatters... (full context)
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...batch she has, for every year doubles its potency. She happily obliges, but warns that Faust must prepare himself before drinking it, or else he will die within the hour. With... (full context)
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Mephistopheles shoves Faust into the circle, and the witch bombastically reads several numerological paradoxes from her book—saying that... (full context)
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...that that’s enough, and to fill the goblet. She does so and gives it to Faust, who begins to drink until a slight flame rises from the cup. The devil urges... (full context)
Part 1: Street
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Later, in a street, Faust walks past a lovely young woman, Margarete. He takes her by the arm and offers... (full context)
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Mephistopheles enters, and Faust demands that the devil get him that girl. The devil says that she is returning... (full context)
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Mephistopheles tells Faust to be practical: it’ll take at least two weeks to coordinate the affair. Faust responds... (full context)
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Faust narrows his ambitions, and asks for a mere souvenir of the girl, a handkerchief from... (full context)
Part 1: Evening
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...the debonair, noble gentleman she met earlier in the day, who was none other than Faust. When she exits her room, Mephistopheles and Faust enter, the former snooping about. Faust, enraptured,... (full context)
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Mephistopheles warns that Margarete is returning, so he and Faust must leave. He presents his love-struck master with a little casket of treasures and tells... (full context)
Part 1: Promenade
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Faust walks back and forth, preoccupied, while Mephistopheles swears vehemently. Faust asks what’s ailing the devil,... (full context)
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Faust inquires about Margarete, here referred to as Gretchen. Mephistopheles says she is grieving about the... (full context)
Part 1: A Street
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Faust wants to know how things stand with Margarete. Mephistopheles applauds his passion and tells him... (full context)
Part 1: A Garden
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It is the same evening, and Faust and Mephistopheles are in Martha’s garden. Martha and Mephistopheles walk together, and Margarete is on... (full context)
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As they enjoy one another’s company, Margarete tells Faust about her and her fussy mother’s modest household. Because they don’t have a maid, Margarete... (full context)
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Faust and Margarete are deep in conversation. Faust asks if she really recognized him when he... (full context)
Part 1: A Summerhouse
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Faust and Margarete run from Martha’s garden to a summerhouse. Here, the girl warns her lover... (full context)
Part 1: Forest and Cave
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Faust enters the wilderness alone and addresses a sublime Spirit, presumably the Earth Spirit, the one... (full context)
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Mephistopheles enters. He urges Faust to enjoy this life of wild solitude but then to move onto something else afterward.... (full context)
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Mephistopheles denounces Faust as a hypocrite for being so modest. He goes on to tell Faust that Margarete... (full context)
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Mephistopheles warns Faust that Margarete thinks he has run away, and adds that for all intents and purposes... (full context)
Part 1: Gretchen’s Room
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...her never to be found, and how upset she is. All her thoughts fall to Faust: his poise, nobility, and fascinating words. Were he to kiss her now, she says, she’d... (full context)
Part 1: Martha’s Garden
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Margarete and Faust enter Martha’s garden together. Margarete wants to know her lover’s religion, but he hushes her.... (full context)
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There’s a hitch, however, for Margarete. Faust doesn’t hold to Christianity, and she’s distressed by the company he keeps. She finds Mephistopheles... (full context)
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Margarete announces that she must go. Faust asks when he will be able to stay and rest upon her heart and join... (full context)
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Mephistopheles enters. He has been watching the conversation and heard Faust lecturing about God and religion, and he hopes this will do Faust some good. Faust... (full context)
Part 1: Night
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Faust and Mephistopheles enter, and Valentine swears that if his sister’s lover is one of these... (full context)
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Valentine advances on Faust and Mephistopheles, cursing the devil’s song and breaking his guitar. He says it’s time to... (full context)
Part 1: Cathedral
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...for the first time), caused by the potion which she, Gretchen, gave to her at Faust’s urging. The Evil Spirit also implies that Gretchen is pregnant. (full context)
Part 1: Walpurgis Night
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...in the devil’s honor, held on Brocken’s summit in the Harz Mountains of central Germany. Faust and Mephistopheles are hiking in a labyrinth of valleys among welling and plunging waters, elements... (full context)
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As they hike, Faust and Mephistopheles see many wonders, like the glowing, mist-surrounded palace of Mammon, a devil of... (full context)
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...foot, proof of his identity as the devil, Mephistopheles serves as spokesman for the tongue-tied Faust. First the two approach a group of old gentlemen who complain about how one can... (full context)
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Faust hopes his mind remains intact, because he’s never seen such a lively carnival as this.... (full context)
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Faust leaves his dance, disturbed when a red mouse leaps from his partner’s mouth. He also... (full context)
Part 1: Walpurgis Night’s Dream
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Faust and Mephistopheles watch the amateurish play, staged in the mountains, which presents the wedding of... (full context)
Part 1: An Expanse of Open Country
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Faust and Mephistopheles enter an expanse of open country under an overcast sky. Faust has learned... (full context)
Part 1: Night: Open Fields
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Dashing along on a black horse, Faust and Mephistopheles see a group of figures by a stone block. Neither knows what these... (full context)
Part 1: Prison
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Faust, lamp in hand, stands in the prison before a small iron door, having stolen a... (full context)
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Faust enters the cell and Margarete cowers, afraid that her execution is about to take place,... (full context)
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When Faust calls her name, Margarete recognizes his voice. She feels free and embraces the man she... (full context)
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Margarete tells Faust to leave without her, to save his poor child, and she imagines her mother sitting... (full context)
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Mephistopheles enters and tells Faust and Margarete to come away, or else both of them will be lost. Margarete begs... (full context)
Part 2: Act 1: A Pleasant Landscape
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Several years have passed since the action of Part I. Faust is couched on the grass, amidst nature, trying to sleep as twilight fades to night.... (full context)
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The sun rises, and the Spirits hide from the loud heralds who accompany it. Faust wakes up and feels freshly alive, joyous, and resolved. He looks at the mountains and... (full context)
Part 2: Act 1: An Imperial Palace: The Great Hall
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...on his chariot’s throne. It is Plutus, the god of wealth, but actually it is Faust disguised as Plutus. He orders that a great chest of treasure be unloaded from the... (full context)
Part 2: Act 1: An Imperial Palace: A Garden
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...morning after the Masquerade. Soberly dressed and kneeling before the Emperor and his courtiers are Faust and Mephistopheles, the former begging forgiveness for disguising himself as Plutus and creating the fiery... (full context)
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...official follows and announces that the army is disciplined once more. The treasurer says that Faust and Mephistopheles are to thank for these happy turns of events. (full context)
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The Chancellor explains: Faust and Mephistopheles came up with the idea of having paper money printed on notes. The... (full context)
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Faust and Mephistopheles go on to explain that everyone accepts these new banknotes, and that they’re... (full context)
Part 2: Act 1: An Imperial Palace: A Dark Gallery
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Faust and Mephistopheles enter a dark gallery in the palace. The magician tells the devil that... (full context)
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Mephistopheles gives Faust a tiny key that begins to grow in his hand. It has special properties, the... (full context)
Part 2: Act 1: An Imperial Palace: Brightly Lit Rooms
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...to see Helen and Paris act out a phantom scene together. The devil responds that Faust is hard at work making this happen. (full context)
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To get rid of the crowd, Mephistopheles orders the Mothers to release Faust from their spell. Candles dim, and the Court starts to move and assemble in the... (full context)
Part 2: Act 1: An Imperial Palace: Knight’s Hall
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...Hall. They are arranged as if to watch a theatrical production. Mephistopheles enters, followed by Faust with a tripod containing a bowl of incense, announced by the astrologer. Grandiosely from the... (full context)
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...femininity, and his boorishness. Then Helen enters. She’s pretty but not his style, Mephistopheles says. Faust, however, is enraptured with the beauty he’s summoned. He says it makes his world desirable... (full context)
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The astrologer observes that Paris is boldly seizing Helen, perhaps even abducting her. Faust orders the ghost to stop but he does not. Faust vows to rescue Helen and... (full context)
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Mephistopheles hoists Faust onto his shoulders. That’s life, he says, and adds that to be encumbered with a... (full context)
Part 2: Act 2: A High-Vaulted, Narrow Gothic Room (Faust’s Study 4)
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Faust is in his former study, unchanged since his days as a professor. Mephistopheles enters from... (full context)
Part 2: Act 2: Laboratory
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...to begin working right now. Mephistopheles tells it to demonstrate its talents by interacting with Faust, who is still asleep in the other room. Homunculus hovers over to the magician and... (full context)
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Homunculus suggests that Faust be taken to Classical Walpurgis Night, which Mephistopheles has never heard of. Homunculus explains that... (full context)
Part 2: Act 2: Classical Walpurgis Night: The Pharsalian Fields
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From the sky, accompanied by light, enter Homunculus, still in his vial, Mephistopheles, and Faust, who wakes upon landing, refreshed just to be in Greece. The three decide to seek... (full context)
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Faust enters, newly vigorous because of the strength and grandeur of Greece and its inhabitants, even... (full context)
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Meanwhile, Faust approaches a River God who is surrounded by streams and nymphs. The nymphs invite Faust... (full context)
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The centaur Chiron enters, and he invites Faust to mount and ride him. Faust acknowledges Chiron to be a great educator and skilled... (full context)
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Chiron introduces Manto to the crazed Faust. Manto says she loves this man who wants what cannot be. Chiron gallops into the... (full context)
Part 2: Act 3: Before Menelaus’ Palace at Sparta
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In the Underworld, Faust and Manto were granted their request that Helen be released from her ghostly afterlife to... (full context)
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...to save themselves: in the hills north of Sparta a great, powerful, and magnanimous lord (Faust) has led a horde of Germanic barbarians in building an invincible fortress. The monster promises... (full context)
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...to bad, she gives the word, and the monster transports all of the women to Faust’s fortress. After mists spread and obscure their vision, Helen and the Trojan women find themselves... (full context)
Part 2: Act 3: Inner Courtyard of a Castle
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...courtyard faced with ornate, fantastic medieval buildings. Phorkyas-Mephistopheles has vanished. Preceded by pages and squires, Faust appears dressed as a medieval lord, with a man shackled at his side: a watchman... (full context)
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Faust announces that he also is overwhelmed by Helen’s beauty, so much so that he acknowledges... (full context)
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Phorkyas-Mephistopheles enters and announces that Menelaus with his legions is approaching Faust’s castle to attack. Faust hurls abuses at the devil and declares the danger to be... (full context)
Part 2: Act 3: A Shaded Grove
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Faust and Helen stand in a shaded grove surrounded by cliffs, obscured from view. Phorkyas-Mephistopheles tells... (full context)
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Faust, Helen, and Euphorion enter. Euphorion says that to see him dance makes his parents’ hearts... (full context)
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...wax wings melted in the sun. His body falls at the feet of Helen and Faust and disappears. All that remains of him onstage are his garments. The boy’s bereaved parents... (full context)
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The chorus laments the beautiful youth’s death. Helen tells her beloved Faust that beauty and happiness can form no lasting union. She embraces him one more time... (full context)
Part 2: Act 4: High Mountains
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Faust, riding his cloud, floats onto a rugged, serrated peak. The cloud separates from him and... (full context)
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Mephistopheles turns to the question of whether Faust has seen anything he’s desired in the world. The devil suspects not, but Faust contradicts... (full context)
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...drums and warlike music. Mephistopheles explains that the Emperor is at war. The false riches Faust created for him by printing paper money led the Emperor to attempt governing and leading... (full context)
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Faust and Mephistopheles cross to the next lower range of mountains and view the armies in... (full context)
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Faust orders Mephistopheles to win the battle for the Emperor, but the devil says the magician... (full context)
Part 2: Act 4: On a Foothill
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Just then, an armored Faust enters with his Three Mighty Men. He offers the Emperor the help and strength of... (full context)
Part 2: Act 4: The Anti-Emperor’s Tent
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Two of Faust’s Three Mighty Men enter the Anti-Emperor’s tent, which is piled up with wealth. They try... (full context)
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Finally, the Chancellor-Archbishop reminds the Emperor that he granted Faust the Empire’s coasts to rule as a feudal lord. The Archbishop demands for the Church... (full context)
Part 2: Act 5: A Broad Landscape
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At this point, apparently, Faust has given half a lifetime to his project of driving back the ocean. A traveler... (full context)
Part 2: Act 5: Faust’s Palace (Before the Palace)
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Faust, now a very old man, a hundred years old, paces in a large formal garden... (full context)
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Despite this success, Faust looks grave and somber. He desires what is not his—the cottage, the grove, and the... (full context)
Part 2: Act 5: Faust’s Palace (Faust on the Balcony)
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The keeper of the palace watchtower is looking out over Faust’s realm while night falls, singing all the while. Suddenly he sees, through a grove of... (full context)
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Faust appears upon the balcony, having heard the watchman’s sad song. His inmost being is offended... (full context)
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Faust is outraged and curses this senseless act of savagery. Mephistopheles and the Three Mighty Men... (full context)
Part 2: Act 5: Faust’s Palace (Within the Palace)
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At the last stroke of midnight, four gray women appear in the courtyard of Faust’s palace: Want, Debt, Distress, and Care. The first three cannot get in, for the palace’s... (full context)
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Within the palace, Faust murmurs to himself that he saw four gray women come but only three depart, and... (full context)
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...man all is darkness in his heart, and he ceases to rejoice in his treasures. Faust orders her to leave and asserts that he shall never acknowledge her power. Care breathes... (full context)
Part 2: Act 5: Faust’s Palace (The Large Outer Courtyard)
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The courtyard of Faust’s palace is now lit by torches. Mephistopheles enters, leading a group of Lemures, spirits of... (full context)
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Faust dreams of draining a contaminating marsh as his crowning last achievement, so that millions of... (full context)
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Faust falls back dead and is caught by the Lemures, who lay him on the ground.... (full context)
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The Lemures begin to bury the body of Faust. Mephistopheles says that if the dead man’s soul tries to rise, he’ll show his blood-signed... (full context)
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The angels rise, bearing off the immortal part of Faust from his gravesite. Mephistopheles begins to regain his composure. Even though he finds himself afflicted... (full context)
Part 2: Act 5: Mountain Gorges
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Angels hover in the upper sky, bearing with them the immortal part of Faust. They sing of how this worthy member of the spirit world was rescued from the... (full context)
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The penitent (Gretchen) clings to the Blessed Virgin Mary, asking her to look down on Faust, the love of her, Gretchen’s, youth, who has now returned to grace. The penitent watches... (full context)