Character Analysis Of Mephisto

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Mephisto, István Szabó 's 1981 film adaption of Klaus Mann 's novel of the same name, is the chronicle of the career of Hendrik Höfgen, who, at the beginning of the film, is the star of a provincial theater. Unsatisfied with success on the small stage, the flamboyant man takes a place at the Staatstheater in Berlin, where he attracts the patronage of the National Socialist Ministerpräsident of Prussia. In return for the special treatment in terms of the power and roles he receives in the reformed Nazi theater, Höfgen renounces his own ideology in favor of theirs. Sticking to his pattern of using characters inspired by those from is life (Hoffer 94), Mann wrote the actor 's part with his ex-brother in law, Gustaf Gründgens, in mind. Even so,…show more content…
The film Mephisto contains in the first few minutes an erotic scene with Höfgen’s mistress Juliette, paving him as heterosexual. Although there are suggestions that this heteronormativity may have been a way for Mann to distance himself from his own homosexual feelings (“Tanz auf dem Vulkan”; van Gelder), other reasoning for this may be found in the work’s ties to Goethe’s Faust, wherein the main character seduces a girl called Gretchen and later forsakes her to comply with the devil Mephistopheles. Both Juliette and Höfgen’s wife Barbara play this tragic role in the film. Juliette, who comes to live with him in Berlin, is a victim of society as the poor pregnant Gretchen in that she, being black, is a subject for persecution. Despite is initial protection, the actor denies her when it becomes politically inconvenient. Barbara plays Gretchen in a different manner; she and our Faust do not belong to the same ideology, not because she believes in God and he does not as with Gretchen and Faust, but because, unlike him, she operates based on her own morals instead of those of the powerful (Bevan 85). This is evidenced in her leftist politics and desire the leave the country when the National Socialists come to power. Later, Barbara does indeed go into exile and when Höfgen encounters her later, he faces the choice to stay with her or return to Germany.…show more content…
The godless man of old was a scholar, a relentless pursuer of knowledge and science at a time that this pursuit was still not considered entirely trustworthy. Moving towards the Enlightenment, European society was backing slowly away from the conservative church and towards intellectual curiosities, however being that the church still was powerful and people highly superstitious, such advancements were often met with suspicion. A scholar or scientist at this time, especially if not tied closely enough with the church, straddled the line between cautious acceptance and persecution. Simply put, in a time of great religious change, scholars were a sign of the changing times and were in a precarious position because of it. So for the Faust of Mephisto to be a stage actor is most fitting, because in the early years of the Third Reich, they occupied a rather similar position. Consider: rather than the religious upheaval occurring from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment, pre-war and Nazi Germany was experiencing a political one. The democracy of the Weimarer Republic gave way to the politics of the National Socialist party, which affected the theater greatly. Nazism had an agenda to change the country’s physical and ideal aesthetic, and popular theater was a very useful propaganda tool, considered by Hanns Johst, president of the German writer’s union and creator of the famous

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