Prologue in Heaven
· The scene begins with the Three Archangels, Raphael, Gabriel, and
Michael, confessing their inability to comprehend the awe-inspiring
works of God.In the Christian tradition, archangels are angels of the
highest rank and are associated with certain functions or
responsibilities.In “Prologue in Heaven,” they personify the cosmos:
Raphael describes and represents the heavens, Gabriel the earth, and
Michael the elements.
· Mephistopheles.Goethe’s devil is inspired by a number of different
literary sources, not just Christian.
· The basic structure of the dialogue between the Lord and
Mephistopheles is inspired by the first two chapters of The book of
Job, in which Satan obtains permission from God to try and tempt Job
to do evil.
· Faust. The real Georg (or Johann) Faust was born in 1480 and died in
1540. Although contemporary sources suggest he was quite well known in
Germany during his lifetime, his fame and notoriety is the result of
an incredibly popular collection of (barely believable) anecdotes and
stories about him called Volksbuch, which was published in 1587. The
Volksbuch was an important source of inspiration to Goethe and other
authors as they wrote about Faust.
· The opening monologue is an indirect adaptation of Christopher
Marlowe’s The Tragical history of Doctor Faustus.
· Faust has in his possession a book by Nostradamus (1503-66), the
French astrologer, physician and prophet.
· When Faust first opens the book by Nostradamus he sees the sign of
the macrocosm, which is a diagram of the organization of the cosmos.
· The vision that the sign of the macrocosm inspires echoes Jacob’s
dream in Genesis 28,...
... middle of paper ...
...hab,so that Ahab could seize his subject’s
vineyards. By referring to Naboth, Mephistopheles is preparing us to
expect the deaths of Baucis and Philemon.
· In Medieval literature, allegorical figures symbolize the approach
of death. The allegorical figures in “Midnight” also parallel the four
horsemen of the Apocalypse: death, war, famine, and plague (see
· In the original Faust legends, Faust is dragged off to
hell.Mephistopheles is unable to do so this time because Faust was
never so satisfied with the results of his striving that he wanted
time to stand still.Mephistopheles is only able to seize Faust's soul
· The Anchorites – Pater Ecstaticus, Pater Profundus, and Pater
Seraphicus – are religious hermits who represent the mystical
tradition of early Christianity.
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