Faust

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Mephistopheles is the devil himself, who offers his services to Faust in the hopes of winning the great man’s soul. He has a gentlemanly if antagonistic relationship with the Lord God, acknowledging that, though he himself always wills evil, he ultimately only contributes to the good which God ordains. For this reason, the devil is rather bored with creation and his role in it, preferring random to destruction over any kind of purposeful activity. He is, in short, the spirit of eternal negation, a sarcastic character given to the commission of vicious pranks and monstrous crimes. The devil is truly impotent in the end, however, capable only of deceptions and illusions. So it is that the virtuous characters in the play, like Gretchen and Helen, always perceive at once that Mephistopheles is a repellent creature. Furthermore, Mephistopheles’s influence is limited only to his home in the North, for he is a medieval European figure, not familiar with, or fluent in, the Classical world of myths. When he and Faust go to Greece for Classical Walpurgis Night, for example, the devil is a stranger in a strange land, obsessed with sin and flesh in a culture that thinks only in terms of the beautiful and the ugly. The devil then fails to win Faust’s soul when he is distracted by sudden lust for the angels who are scattering roses from above.

Mephistopheles Quotes in Faust

The Faust quotes below are all either spoken by Mephistopheles or refer to Mephistopheles. 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.
Prologue in Heaven Quotes

I merely see how mankind toils and moils.
Earth’s little gods still do not change a bit,
are just as odd as on their primal day.
Their lives would be a little easier
if You’d not let them glimpse the light of heaven—
they call it Reason and employ it only
to be more bestial than any beast.

Related Characters: Mephistopheles (speaker), The Lord
Page Number: 280-286
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Mephistopheles (an incarnation of the devil) visits heaven and greets God. Mephistopheles tells God that he feels sorry for humanity (or at least he's pretending to feel sorry), as humans have been blessed and cursed with the gift of reason (the "light of heaven"). Because of their intelligence and ambition, however, humans are able to cause each other great pain and suffering; they use intelligence to do evil.

It's interesting to think about where Mephistopheles is right and where he goes wrong in his judgment of humanity. Certainly, Mephistopheles is right, in Christian terms, to suggest that knowledge is the source of evil: it was eating from the Tree of Knowledge, after all, that brought Adam and Eve out of Paradise. Furthermore, Mephistopheles's point about wisdom being used for evil seems even truer today than it did during Goethe's lifetime (think of all the geniuses who've used their talents to build bombs and cheat people out of their money). And yet where Mephistopheles sees wisdom as the source of evil and nothing else, God seems to see wisdom as a potential path to redemption and salvation. In this passage, we see the basic theme of Faust: the insufficiency of knowledge, or rather, the path from knowledge to salvation.

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Part 1: Faust’s Study 2 Quotes

[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: Walpurgis Night Quotes

Great folk may like the noisy life,
we’ll be quite cozy in this quiet spot.
Besides, it is an ancient practice
to make your own small worlds inside the great one.

Related Characters: Mephistopheles (speaker)
Page Number: 4042-4045
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Mephistopheles takes Faust to a mysterious mountaintop populated by witches: it is Walpurgisnacht, a traditional German night of evil and demonic ceremony. As one might expect, Mephistopheles is a big fan of Walpurgisnacht; he loves being in a place in which he doesn't have to hide from God--here on the mountaintop he can create a microcosm within the macrocosm of the universe, and there indulge in unbridled evil.

It's possible to read the passage as a "metafictional" observation: i.e., Goethe is making a point about his own poem. Notice that the Walpurgisnacht section of the text is usually interpreted as an abrupt diversion from the plot of the poem: it has nothing to do with the action of the story before or after, and therefore could be seen as a self-contained "world." Furthermore, Mephistopheles' observations suggest a strange kinship between Goethe and Mephistopheles himself--they're both the architects of fictional worlds in which they're free to do as they want, (supposedly) without the judgment of others. In fiction, as in Walpurgisnacht, one can find temporary freedom.

Part 2: Act 1: An Imperial Palace: The Throne Room Quotes

Nature and intellect are not words said to Christians.
Because such language is so dangerous
the atheist is executed at the stake.
Nature is sin, and Intellect the devil;
hermaphroditic Doubt their child
which they foster together.

Related Characters: The Chancellor-Archbishop (speaker), Mephistopheles, The Emperor
Page Number: 4897-4902
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage from the beginning of Part Two, Mephistopheles has joined the court of the Emperor as a kind of jester. Mephistopheles makes some bold suggestions to the Emperor about how to solve some of the various crises of his kingdom. Mephistopheles' suggestions show off his intelligence and his belief that the natural resources of the kingdom (and the gold buried somewhere beneath the kingdom) are sufficient for fighting off the effects of the economic "panic." The Chancellor-Archbishop of the kingdom, on the other hand, objects to the way glib way Mephistopheles suggests easy solutions to the Emperor's problems--he points out that Mephistopheles is relying too heavily on his own intellect and nature.

It's important to recognize that the Archbishop is using Christian language to criticize Mephistopheles, when in reality he's just frightened that Mephistopheles is weakening the Archbishop's own position in court. Mephistopheles may be an evil character, and yet the Archbishop seems equally corrupt in his willingness to manipulate religion for his own selfish reasons.

That merit and good fortune are connected
is something that these idiots will never see;
the philosopher’s stone could be in their possession,
but there’d be no philosopher to use it.

Related Characters: Mephistopheles (speaker)
Page Number: 5061-5064
Explanation and Analysis:

At the end of the scene, Mephistopheles has convinced the foolish, pleasure-loving Emperor to dig for buried treasure throughout his land in the hopes of remedying the crisis in his territory. The Emperor is hopeful that he'll be able to find gold and stave off some of the problems in his kingdom. When Mephistopheles is alone, he rejoices that the Emperor is about to become reliant on gold for his power--Mephistopheles senses that the Emperor will become weaker and more materialistic as a result of this "quick fix." Mephistopheles also makes the point that all punishment from God comes with a reason attached--in other words, the Emperor has been experiencing crises in his kingdom because he's a bad emperor who's appointed fools to run his kingdom. Humans in general, Mephistopheles argues, would be better off if they just understood that punishment isn't random; i.e., that the best way to avoid punishment is just to be a better person.

The passage reiterates Mephistopheles' original point: he's an agent of good, even as he does evil. Ironically, Mephistopheles is the most morally-attuned character in the poem; he recognizes that humans will be rewarded for their good behavior. The difference between Mephistopheles and God, of course is that Mephistopheles is evil, and seeks to harm mankind. And yet he's totally aware of God's law, to an extent that no human in the play is (with the possible exception of Faust).

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 2: Classical Walpurgis Night: The Pharsalian Fields Quotes

You’ll never learn unless you make mistakes.
If you want to exist, do so on your own!

Related Characters: Mephistopheles (speaker), Homunculus
Page Number: 7847-7848
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Mephistopheles watches as Homunculus, the creation of Wagner, proceeds to watch the trial of two philosophers, Anaxagoras and Thales, as they debate the material sources of the natural world. Mephistopheles warns Homunculus that he'll never learn anything about the universe unless he makes his own mistakes--as if to suggest that by latching onto Thales and Anaxagoras, he'll always be a pupil, never a real thinker.

In ancient Greece, Thales and Anaxagoras were two of the most notable early philosophers, who believed they'd found the substances that made up the universe (Thales famously claimed that everything is made out of water). And yet Mephistopheles' exchange with Homunculus isn't about the universe's structure, but rather the structure of education and free will. Mephistopheles seems to believe that the best way to learn is to be free; to be one's "own boss." One should take Mephistopheles' advice with a grain of salt. Mephistopheles' observations could be interpreted as heretical (since they imply that humans shouldn't worship God, but merely live "on their own") or Christian (since the notion of free will and making one's own mistakes is central to salvation in Christian theology). The ambiguous nature of Mephistopheles' advice sums up his identity as a character who may be doing evil, but who also has some intriguing things to say and teach us.

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Mephistopheles Character Timeline in Faust

The timeline below shows where the character Mephistopheles appears in Faust. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Prologue in Heaven
Reason and Passion Theme Icon
The Human Desire for Meaning and Transcendence Theme Icon
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Parts, Wholes, and Limits Theme Icon
Mephistopheles (the devil) enters heaven uninvited, though he has been welcomed here often before. He addresses... (full context)
Reason and Passion Theme Icon
The Human Desire for Meaning and Transcendence Theme Icon
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Parts, Wholes, and Limits Theme Icon
Intellectualism and the Value of Words Theme Icon
The Lord speaks. He asks Mephistopheles if he ever has anything to say other than criticisms. Isn’t there anything right on... (full context)
The Human Desire for Meaning and Transcendence Theme Icon
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Parts, Wholes, and Limits Theme Icon
Mephistopheles proposes a bet: that the Lord will lose Faust to temptation and sin if He... (full context)
The Human Desire for Meaning and Transcendence Theme Icon
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
When the Lord finishes speaking to Mephistopheles, He invites the angels to delight in beauty’s living richness, nature, and urges them to... (full context)
Part 1: Faust’s Study 2
The Human Desire for Meaning and Transcendence Theme Icon
Parts, Wholes, and Limits Theme Icon
As the mist clears, Mephistopheles enters from behind the stove dressed like a goliard, a special kind of religious cleric.... (full context)
Parts, Wholes, and Limits Theme Icon
...devil can’t destroy everything at once, he must settle for destroying creation piece by piece. Mephistopheles concedes that his business of destruction is not really thriving, and that if he didn’t... (full context)
The Human Desire for Meaning and Transcendence Theme Icon
Parts, Wholes, and Limits Theme Icon
Mephistopheles assumes he is excused to go, but points out a little problem: the pentagram on... (full context)
The Human Desire for Meaning and Transcendence Theme Icon
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Faust thinks a devil in hand, however, is well worth keeping, and Mephistopheles trapped himself, after all. The devil consents to stay, but only if he can use... (full context)
The Human Desire for Meaning and Transcendence Theme Icon
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
At last Mephistopheles dismisses the choir of spirits he has summoned, for Faust has fallen to sleep. This... (full context)
Part 1: Faust’s Study 3
The Human Desire for Meaning and Transcendence Theme Icon
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Faust is in his study when he hears a knock at the door: it is Mephistopheles dressed as a young nobleman. Faust lets him in. The devil suggests that Faust get... (full context)
The Human Desire for Meaning and Transcendence Theme Icon
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Parts, Wholes, and Limits Theme Icon
Intellectualism and the Value of Words Theme Icon
Mephistopheles asks Faust why he didn’t drink the poison on that Easter night then. Faust explains... (full context)
The Human Desire for Meaning and Transcendence Theme Icon
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Parts, Wholes, and Limits Theme Icon
Mephistopheles starts talking business: he offers to become Faust’s companion and guide through life, his servant... (full context)
The Human Desire for Meaning and Transcendence Theme Icon
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Faust suspects that Mephistopheles intends to deceive him, however, to give him food that cannot satisfy, gold that will... (full context)
The Human Desire for Meaning and Transcendence Theme Icon
Intellectualism and the Value of Words Theme Icon
For insurance, Mephistopheles also requires that the agreement be sealed in writing. Faust scoffs at this pedantic formality,... (full context)
Reason and Passion Theme Icon
The Human Desire for Meaning and Transcendence Theme Icon
Parts, Wholes, and Limits Theme Icon
Intellectualism and the Value of Words Theme Icon
...giving up his search for knowledge and welcoming instead pain and suffering into his life. Mephistopheles advises that Faust enlist the aid of a poet in dreaming up what he wants.... (full context)
Reason and Passion Theme Icon
Parts, Wholes, and Limits Theme Icon
...one of his students in the hallway, but he feels that he cannot face him. Mephistopheles dons a cap and gown to speak to the student instead, and Faust exits the... (full context)
Reason and Passion Theme Icon
The Human Desire for Meaning and Transcendence Theme Icon
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Intellectualism and the Value of Words Theme Icon
The student enters the study. Mephistopheles, pretending to be Faust himself, welcomes him. The student says he is committed to learning,... (full context)
The Human Desire for Meaning and Transcendence Theme Icon
Intellectualism and the Value of Words Theme Icon
Politics Theme Icon
Mephistopheles goes on to advise the student to study metaphysics, a branch of philosophy, which the... (full context)
The Human Desire for Meaning and Transcendence Theme Icon
Intellectualism and the Value of Words Theme Icon
Mephistopheles then tells the student that theology is as much poison as it is medicine. He... (full context)
Reason and Passion Theme Icon
The Human Desire for Meaning and Transcendence Theme Icon
Parts, Wholes, and Limits Theme Icon
Intellectualism and the Value of Words Theme Icon
The student inquires about Mephistopheles’ perspective on medicine. In an aside, the devil says he’s grown bored of playing at... (full context)
The Human Desire for Meaning and Transcendence Theme Icon
Intellectualism and the Value of Words Theme Icon
Finally, the student asks Mephistopheles to write a favorable message in his album (a book in which contributions like signatures... (full context)
The Human Desire for Meaning and Transcendence Theme Icon
Parts, Wholes, and Limits Theme Icon
Faust enters and asks where he and Mephistopheles will go first. Wherever you please, the devil says. He suggests the two experience the... (full context)
Part 1: Auerbach’s Wine-Cellar in Leipzig
The Human Desire for Meaning and Transcendence Theme Icon
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Intellectualism and the Value of Words Theme Icon
Faust and Mephistopheles enter the wine-cellar. The devil intends to first introduce his master to partying and merriment.... (full context)
The Human Desire for Meaning and Transcendence Theme Icon
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Politics Theme Icon
Mephistopheles, claiming to have just come from Spain, the land of wine and song, begins singing... (full context)
The Human Desire for Meaning and Transcendence Theme Icon
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Mephistopheles then says he’d drink with the revelers if only their wine were better. The revelers... (full context)
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Mephistopheles continues taking wine orders—champagne for Brander, and something good and sweet for Siebel—but Altmayer fears... (full context)
The Human Desire for Meaning and Transcendence Theme Icon
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Faust tells Mephistopheles that he wishes to go, but the devil says they must wait to see a... (full context)
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
In response, Mephistopheles calls Siebel a “wine-tun” (a barrel). The devil seems to be just asking for a... (full context)
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
The revelers are confused by Mephistopheles’ joke, especially when they realize they’re all holding one another’s noses. They wonder where Mephistopheles... (full context)
Part 1: Witch’s Kitchen
The Human Desire for Meaning and Transcendence Theme Icon
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Faust and Mephistopheles enter a vaporous, grotesque witch’s kitchen where a female ape tends to a boiling cauldron... (full context)
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Intellectualism and the Value of Words Theme Icon
Mephistopheles asks the apes where the witch is. They say that she is dining out and... (full context)
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Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Intellectualism and the Value of Words Theme Icon
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While Mephistopheles inquires about various utensils on the walls, Faust is gazing into a magic mirror in... (full context)
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...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 the witch’s... (full context)
Reason and Passion Theme Icon
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Mephistopheles then asks the witch for a glass of her well-known elixir, the oldest batch she... (full context)
Reason and Passion Theme Icon
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Mephistopheles shoves Faust into the circle, and the witch bombastically reads several numerological paradoxes from her... (full context)
Reason and Passion Theme Icon
The Human Desire for Meaning and Transcendence Theme Icon
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Mephistopheles tells the witch that that’s enough, and to fill the goblet. She does so and... (full context)
Part 1: Street
The Human Desire for Meaning and Transcendence Theme Icon
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Mephistopheles enters, and Faust demands that the devil get him that girl. The devil says that... (full context)
Reason and Passion Theme Icon
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Mephistopheles tells Faust to be practical: it’ll take at least two weeks to coordinate the affair.... (full context)
Reason and Passion Theme Icon
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
...souvenir of the girl, a handkerchief from her breast or garter to excite his passion. Mephistopheles proposes that he take Faust to the girl’s room instead, when she is at a... (full context)
Part 1: Evening
The Human Desire for Meaning and Transcendence Theme Icon
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Politics Theme Icon
...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, welcomes the twilight glow that permeates... (full context)
The Human Desire for Meaning and Transcendence Theme Icon
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Mephistopheles warns that Margarete is returning, so he and Faust must leave. He presents his love-struck... (full context)
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
...opens her chest to put away her clothes, and at once she sees the casket Mephistopheles planted there. She opens it and finds beautiful jewels inside, which she tries on. She... (full context)
Part 1: Promenade
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Faust walks back and forth, preoccupied, while Mephistopheles swears vehemently. Faust asks what’s ailing the devil, who explains that Margarete’s pious mother gave... (full context)
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Faust inquires about Margarete, here referred to as Gretchen. Mephistopheles says she is grieving about the loss of her jewels and thinking about who may... (full context)
Part 1: The Neighbor’s House
The Human Desire for Meaning and Transcendence Theme Icon
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
There is a knock at the door and a gentleman enters. It is Mephistopheles, claiming to have a message for Dame Martha Schwerdtlein. He excuses himself for interrupting, and... (full context)
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Martha is troubled: her husband left her no money? No jewelry? Mephistopheles offers his sympathies, and Margarete promises to pray requiems (masses sung for the dead) for... (full context)
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Martha requests that Mephistopheles tell her more of her husband’s death. The devil says he was beside him on... (full context)
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Mephistopheles gets in a final dig, by saying that things would have been all right if... (full context)
Part 1: A Street
Reason and Passion Theme Icon
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Faust wants to know how things stand with Margarete. Mephistopheles applauds his passion and tells him that he will see his beloved tonight at Martha’s... (full context)
Part 1: A Garden
The Human Desire for Meaning and Transcendence Theme Icon
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Intellectualism and the Value of Words Theme Icon
It is the same evening, and Faust and Mephistopheles are in Martha’s garden. Martha and Mephistopheles walk together, and Margarete is on Faust’s arm.... (full context)
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Meanwhile, Martha and Mephistopheles walk together. Martha says that it’s difficult to reform long-time bachelors into husbands. Mephistopheles says... (full context)
The Human Desire for Meaning and Transcendence Theme Icon
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
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Mephistopheles and Martha reenter. Martha says that she’d ask her companion to remain longer if the... (full context)
Part 1: A Summerhouse
The Human Desire for Meaning and Transcendence Theme Icon
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Intellectualism and the Value of Words Theme Icon
...Margarete run from Martha’s garden to a summerhouse. Here, the girl warns her lover that Mephistopheles is coming. Faust calls her a teasing minx, kisses her, and again tells her that... (full context)
Part 1: Forest and Cave
The Human Desire for Meaning and Transcendence Theme Icon
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Intellectualism and the Value of Words Theme Icon
Mephistopheles enters. He urges Faust to enjoy this life of wild solitude but then to move... (full context)
The Human Desire for Meaning and Transcendence Theme Icon
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Mephistopheles denounces Faust as a hypocrite for being so modest. He goes on to tell Faust... (full context)
The Human Desire for Meaning and Transcendence Theme Icon
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Mephistopheles warns Faust that Margarete thinks he has run away, and adds that for all intents... (full context)
Part 1: Martha’s Garden
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
...Faust doesn’t hold to Christianity, and she’s distressed by the company he keeps. She finds Mephistopheles repellent and dreadful, with his expression half of mockery, half of anger. He seems to... (full context)
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Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
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Mephistopheles enters. He has been watching the conversation and heard Faust lecturing about God and religion,... (full context)
Part 1: Night
The Human Desire for Meaning and Transcendence Theme Icon
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Faust and Mephistopheles enter, and Valentine swears that if his sister’s lover is one of these two, then... (full context)
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Parts, Wholes, and Limits Theme Icon
Valentine advances on Faust and Mephistopheles, cursing the devil’s song and breaking his guitar. He says it’s time to break some... (full context)
Part 1: Walpurgis Night
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
...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 of nature... (full context)
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Parts, Wholes, and Limits Theme Icon
Politics Theme Icon
As they hike, Faust and Mephistopheles see many wonders, like the glowing, mist-surrounded palace of Mammon, a devil of wealth. A... (full context)
The Human Desire for Meaning and Transcendence Theme Icon
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
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With his cloven 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... (full context)
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...man Adam’s first wife—now a temptress and demon—is there along with dancing witches. Faust and Mephistopheles join in with them, with Faust singing about apples in a tree (a reference both... (full context)
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...dance, disturbed when a red mouse leaps from his partner’s mouth. He also confides in Mephistopheles that he saw a deathly-pale lovely girl who looks like his own dear Gretchen (whose... (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 the king... (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 that Gretchen... (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 figures are... (full context)
Part 1: Prison
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Mephistopheles enters and tells Faust and Margarete to come away, or else both of them will... (full context)
Part 2: Act 1: An Imperial Palace: The Throne Room
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...room, the irresponsible, pleasure-loving Emperor meets with his state council, courtiers, and servants, along with Mephistopheles, who took the place of the Emperor’s fool after the fool mysteriously collapsed, dead or... (full context)
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The Emperor asks his new fool Mephistopheles if he doesn’t know of some further cause of woe. The devil says he doesn’t.... (full context)
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Mephistopheles evades the Emperor’s request. Instead, to prove that he’s not deceiving anyone, he invites the... (full context)
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At last, tempted by Mephistopheles, the Emperor decides to begin looking for the hidden vaults where gold might be found.... (full context)
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Everyone exits except for Mephistopheles, who delights in the fact that idiotic mortals will never see that merit and good... (full context)
Part 2: Act 1: An Imperial Palace: The Great Hall
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...determine the course of human life), who sing amusingly, as do Fear, Hope, and Prudence. Mephistopheles enters disguised as a two-headed dwarf, but the herald strikes him with his staff. The... (full context)
Part 2: Act 1: An Imperial Palace: A Garden
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...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 illusion of... (full context)
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...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 Emperor fears... (full context)
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Faust and Mephistopheles go on to explain that everyone accepts these new banknotes, and that they’re substantiated by... (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 the Emperor... (full context)
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Mephistopheles gives Faust a tiny key that begins to grow in his hand. It has special... (full context)
Part 2: Act 1: An Imperial Palace: Brightly Lit Rooms
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...and courtiers hustling and bustling through brightly lit rooms of the palace. An official tells Mephistopheles that the Court is impatient to see Helen and Paris act out a phantom scene... (full context)
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Several women then approach Mephistopheles and ask for remedies to their problems: blemishes, swellings of the foot, and unrequited love.... (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... (full context)
Part 2: Act 1: An Imperial Palace: Knight’s Hall
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...the dimly lit Knight’s 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... (full context)
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...air, his 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... (full context)
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Mephistopheles hoists Faust onto his shoulders. That’s life, he says, and adds that to be encumbered... (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 behind a curtain and finds his master lying on an old-fashioned bed, pining... (full context)
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Mephistopheles wants someone to play professor with, so he pulls a bell chord, summoning from a... (full context)
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Mephistopheles orders the famulus to lead him to Wagner, but the famulus explains that Wagner is... (full context)
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Mephistopheles sits in a dignified pose when the student, now called the baccalaureate (whom the devil... (full context)
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Farewell, Mephistopheles says to the baccalaureate, that pompous ass! He imagines that the young man would be... (full context)
Part 2: Act 2: Laboratory
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...hearth, excited. In the inmost vial of his apparatus something glows like a living ember. Mephistopheles enters and Wagner explains that he’s making a human being, not by means of procreation... (full context)
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...Wagner as its daddy and stating that it would like to begin working right now. Mephistopheles tells it to demonstrate its talents by interacting with Faust, who is still asleep in... (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 Satan prefers Romantic specters, the North, and the... (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... (full context)
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...to Chiron. The sirens attempt to tempt Faust, but he withdraws to look for Chiron. Mephistopheles insults and threatens the sirens, and begins ogling the Lamiae, who are coquettish creatures, part-snake... (full context)
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Mephistopheles enters the plain beside the mountain. He complains of being uncomfortable with the witches here... (full context)
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The Lamiae invite Mephistopheles to take his pick and choose the prettiest among them, but those he picks are... (full context)
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Mephistopheles shakes himself off, none the wiser, he says, for again pursuing mere sensual illusion. He... (full context)
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Homunculus tells Mephistopheles that he’s on the trail of two pre-Socratic philosophers, Anaxagoras and Thales, from whom he... (full context)
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Mephistopheles enters, climbing the mountain where Pygmies recently ruled. In a dim cave he sees an... (full context)
Part 2: Act 3: Before Menelaus’ Palace at Sparta
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...palace, Helen encounters empty passageways at first, and then a monstrously strange form: it is Phorkyas-Mephistopheles, the incarnation of the Ugly. The chorus of captive Trojan women sings about being held... (full context)
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Phorkyas-Mephistopheles sees only one way for Helen and her fellow captives to save themselves: in the... (full context)
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Although Helen senses that Phorkyas-Mephistopheles is a hostile spirit who will change good to bad, she gives the word, and... (full context)
Part 2: Act 3: Inner Courtyard of a Castle
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...the captive Trojan women find themselves in a courtyard faced with ornate, fantastic medieval buildings. Phorkyas-Mephistopheles has vanished. Preceded by pages and squires, Faust appears dressed as a medieval lord, with... (full context)
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Phorkyas-Mephistopheles enters and announces that Menelaus with his legions is approaching Faust’s castle to attack. Faust... (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 the chorus members gathered around that Faust and Helen have together just conceived and... (full context)
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...vanishes, Faust is left standing with nothing but Helen’s robes and veil in his arms. Phorkyas-Mephistopheles instructs Faust to cling tightly to these garments so that he can soar aloft on... (full context)
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...gigantic height, pushes back his mask and veil, and stands revealed to the audience as Mephistopheles, as though prepared to deliver an epilogue. (full context)
Part 2: Act 4: High Mountains
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...in the sky resembling Helen. Just then two huge boots plump down on the peak. Mephistopheles steps down from them, and then the boots stride away without him. The devil says... (full context)
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Mephistopheles turns to the question of whether Faust has seen anything he’s desired in the world.... (full context)
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Just then they hear the sound of distant drums and warlike music. Mephistopheles explains that the Emperor is at war. The false riches Faust created for him by... (full context)
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Faust and Mephistopheles cross to the next lower range of mountains and view the armies in the valley... (full context)
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Faust orders Mephistopheles to win the battle for the Emperor, but the devil says the magician must be... (full context)
Part 2: Act 4: On a Foothill
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Assisted by the Three Mighty Men and empty suits of armor that Mephistopheles animated, the Emperor’s army fights the rebels. However, after two ravens conference with the devil,... (full context)
Part 2: Act 5: Faust’s Palace (Before the Palace)
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A splendid, richly laden vessel appears in a nearby canal, bearing Mephistopheles and the Three Mighty Men. They disembark, and the vessel’s cargo is unloaded. The devil... (full context)
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...the masterpiece he has created. So it is that, tired of being just, he orders Mephistopheles and the Three Mighty Men to evict Baucis and Philemon from their cottage. The devil... (full context)
Part 2: Act 5: Faust’s Palace (Faust on the Balcony)
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...the watchman’s sad song. His inmost being is offended to see the linden grove burn. Mephistopheles and the Three Mighty Men enter. The devil excuses the bit of trouble they’ve all... (full context)
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Faust is outraged and curses this senseless act of savagery. Mephistopheles and the Three Mighty Men simply respond that people should gracefully obey the commands of... (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 the restless or malignant dead in Roman... (full context)
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...the moment: “Tarry a while, you are so fair” (the words in his contract with Mephistopheles, which, when spoken of a moment experienced, forfeit Faust’s soul to the devil). Thus envisioning... (full context)
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...falls back dead and is caught by the Lemures, who lay him on the ground. Mephistopheles says that nothing satisfies Faust, and so he just keeps chasing shapes that always change.... (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 contract... (full context)
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The glorious host of heaven enters from above, singing of forgiveness. Mephistopheles hates their nasty, androgynous songs, for they have cost him many souls. Angels begin to... (full context)
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Mephistopheles fights off the roses that drift about him. His head is on fire and his... (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 with boils now, he... (full context)