Faust and Mephistopheles enter an expanse of open country under an overcast sky. Faust has learned that Gretchen is miserable and despairing in prison—for killing her newborn child, Faust’s own. Speaking in prose for the first time in the drama, Faust curses the devil for concealing this from him and for attempting to distract him with worthless entertainment. He demands that the devil save Gretchen, but the devil says he has no power over a society avenging bloodshed. Faust demands, then, to be taken to the prison himself, where with his own human hands he will free Gretchen. This agreed, the two exit.
It is implied that since the last scene, Faust has searched for Gretchen and has discovered the doom his seduction condemned her to. Although he recognizes the evil effect of associating with Mephistopheles, Faust nonetheless insists on employing his services, as though the devil were a necessary evil at this point. The prose gives this scene a raw, visceral passion and explosive realism.