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Faust: Positive or Negative

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Faust: Positive or Negative

The Faust legend, as with other great legends, has many interpretations. In Goethe’s Faust: Part One, the protagonist’s character is questioned, and this uncertainty contributes to the number of interpretations the story has. It is unclear whether or not Faust is a positive or a negative figure. In the story, Faust gets pulled into a journey of deceit and sin. As long as Faust followed the Devil, he became closer to his own downfall. Alberto Destro argues that a moral hero lives his life according to the ordinary “moral” point of view. Destro claims that Faust cannot be considered a moral hero, but instead a negative figure because Faust does not follow the ordinary “moral” point of view. I agree with his claim that Faust is a negative figure, and my paper will build upon the argument that Faustian ethic, which include striving for self-realization, leads to disaster. Much evidence is taken from the final scene of Faust I, “Dungeon.”

Destro claims that Faust is negative because he is a “superman” and turns his back on the judgments and values of the community to pursue self-realization. Destro lays out three premises: first, he says that if Faust was “superman,” then he cannot be considered a moral hero, but a moral villain; second, he says that if Faust is a moral villain then he is a negative figure; third, he states that Faust is a “magician,” “robber,” and “instigator of murderers.” But if we look deeper into Destro’s claim, then we see that he trying to state that Faust isn’t a negative character because of the things he is—“robber”, “magician,” and “instigator of murderers”—but it is his ethical perspective that makes Faust a negative character. It is the set of values he accepts that make h...

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...r. "The 'Salvation' of Faust-by Goethe." MLA International Bibliography. Book Chapter. Web. 20 Jan. 2012.

Schuchard, G. C. L. "The Last Scene in Goethe's Faust." MLA International Bibliography. Book Chapter. Web. 20 Jan. 2012.

Wells, B.W. "Goethe's Faust." MLA International Bibliography. Book Chapter, 2010. Web. 20 Jan. 2012.

Works Cited

Destro, Alberto. "The Guilty Hero, Or: The Tragic Salvation of Faust." Trans. Charles Hindley. MLA International Bibliography. Book Chapter, 2001. Web. 20 Jan. 2012.

Henkel, Arthur. "The 'Salvation' of Faust-by Goethe." MLA International Bibliography. Book Chapter. Web. 20 Jan. 2012.

Schuchard,, G. C. L. "The Last Scene in Goethe's Faust." MLA International Bibliography. Book Chapter. Web. 20 Jan. 2012.

Wells, B.W. "Goethe's Faust." MLA International Bibliography. Book Chapter, 2010. Web. 20 Jan. 2012.

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