Faust

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The Emperor Character Analysis

The Emperor is young, pleasure-loving, and surrounded in his court by fools, fakes, and flatterers. He impulsively welcomes short-term solutions to problems that threaten to ruin his realm, like printing paper money at Faust’s suggestion, but such solutions tend to cause more problems than they resolve. After the circulation of paper money creates a false sense of prosperity in the empire, the Emperor himself neglects his responsibilities, choosing instead to lead a dissolute life of drinking and reveling.

The Emperor Quotes in Faust

The Faust quotes below are all either spoken by The Emperor or refer to The Emperor. 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 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.

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The Emperor Character Timeline in Faust

The timeline below shows where the character The Emperor appears in Faust. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 2: Act 1: An Imperial Palace: The Throne Room
The Human Desire for Meaning and Transcendence Theme Icon
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Politics Theme Icon
In a palace throne room, the irresponsible, pleasure-loving Emperor meets with his state council, courtiers, and servants, along with Mephistopheles, who took the place... (full context)
Politics Theme Icon
...Mercenaries are demanding payment, and imperial realms are falling into chaos. A treasurer informs the Emperor of paralyzing economic difficulties. Even the Emperor’s steward says that the palace is running low... (full context)
The Human Desire for Meaning and Transcendence Theme Icon
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Politics Theme Icon
The Emperor asks his new fool Mephistopheles if he doesn’t know of some further cause of woe.... (full context)
Politics Theme Icon
Mephistopheles evades the Emperor’s request. Instead, to prove that he’s not deceiving anyone, he invites the Emperor to consult... (full context)
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Politics Theme Icon
At last, tempted by Mephistopheles, the Emperor decides to begin looking for the hidden vaults where gold might be found. The astrologer... (full context)
Part 2: Act 1: An Imperial Palace: The Great Hall
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Politics Theme Icon
...messenger) says that, unlike traditional German festivals—which are full of morbidity, dancing fools, and demons—the Emperor’s will be a more cheerful entertainment, in the Italian fashion. He concludes that Mankind always... (full context)
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Parts, Wholes, and Limits Theme Icon
Politics Theme Icon
...leader Pan, a horned and goat-legged Greek god of flocks and herds—but this actually the Emperor in disguise as Pan. Dance-loving fauns and materialistic, earth-mining gnomes enter also, along with hearty... (full context)
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Politics Theme Icon
...Joy turns to agony, and people panic. The herald sees that it is really the Emperor burning. We learn later that it is here that the Emperor signs the note of... (full context)
Part 2: Act 1: An Imperial Palace: A Garden
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Politics Theme Icon
It is the 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... (full context)
Politics Theme Icon
The steward enters and tells the Emperor joyous news: all the empire’s debts are settled. The high-ranking military official follows and announces... (full context)
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Politics Theme Icon
...and Mephistopheles came up with the idea of having paper money printed on notes. The Emperor fears fraud, and wonders who forged his signature on the original of these notes. The... (full context)
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Politics Theme Icon
...that they’re substantiated by the unimaginable wealth buried in the soils of the empire. The Emperor is persuaded. He thanks the magician and the devil for their service, and appoints them... (full context)
Part 2: Act 1: An Imperial Palace: A Dark Gallery
The Human Desire for Meaning and Transcendence Theme Icon
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Parts, Wholes, and Limits Theme Icon
Politics Theme Icon
...Mephistopheles enter a dark gallery in the palace. The magician tells the devil that the Emperor is demanding that he summon Helen of Troy and Paris (Helen’s lover in Greek mythology)... (full context)
Part 2: Act 1: An Imperial Palace: Brightly Lit Rooms
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Politics Theme Icon
The Emperor is surrounded by princes and courtiers hustling and bustling through brightly lit rooms of the... (full context)
Part 2: Act 1: An Imperial Palace: Knight’s Hall
Reason and Passion Theme Icon
The Human Desire for Meaning and Transcendence Theme Icon
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Politics Theme Icon
The Emperor and his Court have already entered the dimly lit Knight’s Hall. They are arranged as... (full context)
Part 2: Act 4: High Mountains
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Politics Theme Icon
...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 printing paper money led... (full context)
Politics Theme Icon
...armies in the valley below. The devil says that with his and Faust’s aid the Emperor’s victory is certain, for the empty make-believe of magic provides the stratagems that win all... (full context)
Politics Theme Icon
Faust orders Mephistopheles to win the battle for the Emperor, but the devil says the magician must be the general in charge today. Though Faust... (full context)
Part 2: Act 4: On a Foothill
Politics Theme Icon
The Emperor meets with his military officers in the imperial tent on a foothill. They discuss the... (full context)
Politics Theme Icon
Just then, an armored Faust enters with his Three Mighty Men. He offers the Emperor the help and strength of magic in his war, but, as grateful as the Emperor... (full context)
Reason and Passion Theme Icon
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Politics Theme Icon
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, he informs the... (full context)
Part 2: Act 4: The Anti-Emperor’s Tent
Pleasure and Love Theme Icon
Politics Theme Icon
Two of Faust’s Three Mighty Men enter the Anti-Emperor’s tent, which is piled up with wealth. They try to take little chests full of... (full context)
Politics Theme Icon
The Emperor enters with four princes. He is overjoyed that his army has won, regardless of the... (full context)
Politics Theme Icon
The Chancellor-Archbishop remains. He is gravely concerned that the Emperor conspired with Satan to achieve his magical victory, and worries that the Pope will consequently... (full context)
Politics Theme Icon
Finally, the Chancellor-Archbishop reminds the Emperor that he granted Faust the Empire’s coasts to rule as a feudal lord. The Archbishop... (full context)