Good and Evil in Goethe's Faust

Good and Evil in Goethe's Faust

Length: 619 words (1.8 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓

Good and Evil in Faust  

In Faust Goethe shows many of his opinions about good, evil, and religion. Goethe uses characters like The Lord and Gretchen in the early part of the play to set examples of goodness. Goethe uses characters like Mephistopheles to stand for evil. Throughout the play Goethe also uses examples of the church to show how he feels the church works.

            The concept of good for Goethe is that everyone has the ability to be good and that errors in judgment are what make people bad but if a person keeps striving these mistakes will bring them closer to righteousness. As long as a person continues to keep moving and doing things they will most likely achieve righteousness. This is shown in the bet between Faust and Mephistopheles. Faust says that if at any time he says, "Linger a while! Thou art so fair!" that will be when Faust dies and serves Mephistopheles. This shows that if Faust were to stop wanting to do anything it would be a horrible sin. The Lord which many perceive to stand for God stands for the perfection that Faust is trying to accomplish with his life. Gretchen in the early part of the play stands for perfection because she is inexperienced and knows nothing else until Faust starts to seduce her.

            The concept of bad for Goethe can be seen most in the character of Mephistopheles. Mephistopheles is believed to stand for the devil. When he first introduces himself he describes himself as "a part of that Power which always wills evil, always procures good.....the Spirit which always denies." Mephistopheles actions such as talking Faust into taking advantage of Gretchen and then telling him to leave her are seen as evil actions. The fact that Mephistopheles spends time with witches which most people see as evil shows that he is also evil. Goethe believes that all people sin sometimes and God forgives us. This is shown when Gretchen is in prison and after all the sin she has done a voice from heaven grants her salvation. Even though she did sin, most of her sin was because of inexperience and she was not purposely sinning.

            Goethe feels that the church and religion are both useless. When Faust leaves Gretchen the first jewels, her mother takes them to the church. The church takes them saying that they are trying to help, but this can be seen as the church just trying to get money out of them.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Good and Evil in Goethe's Faust." 26 Jan 2020

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Goethe's Faust - Triumph of Faust Essay

- Triumph of Faust In the beginning of Goethe's Faust, a bet is made between God and Mephistopheles, a character that some consider to be the Devil. Mephistopheles says that Faust, the doctor, will fall and God says in lines 15-16, "If today he's still confused, a soul astray, my light shall lead him into a true way." Soon Mephistopheles has to do anything for Faust if Faust, in return, gives Mephisto his soul. Although Faust, throughout the play, is irritated with Mephistopheles, he feels like it is also necessary to have around because he needs him to have a fulfilling life....   [tags: Faust Essays]

Free Essays
598 words (1.7 pages)

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Faust Essay

- ... During his time with Mephisto, Faust comes across a young woman by the name of Gretchen, “Well. What’s doing. When am I going to have her?”(Goethe Line 2831). While reading, Gretchen is portrayed as your ordinary peasant girl. She’s innocent, pure and a little bit naïve for her age. As the poem progresses, Faust manages to seduce the young innocent girl, with the guidance of Mephistopheles. Gretchen gives into temptation. Here, Gretchen is the embodiment of good, while contrast, Faust is evil....   [tags: character analysis]

Research Papers
1014 words (2.9 pages)

Character of Mephistopheles in Goethe's Faust Essay

- The Character of Mephistopheles in Faust Mephistopheles, from the epic poem Faust, by Goethe, is one of the most interesting characters if examined carefully. Much like today's crude interpretations of the devil, Mephistopheles was a skeptic, a gambler, self- confident, witty, stubborn, smart, creative, tempting and of course, evil. There were very ironic things about him. Though he was evil, he was a force of goodness. The evil in him was portrayed in the negative aspects of Faust's personality, which showed that no matter how powerful the Lord was, the devil would always have an impact on a persons life and decisions....   [tags: Faust Essays]

Free Essays
644 words (1.8 pages)

Commentary Against Absurdity in Goethe's Faust Essay

- Commentary Against Absurdity in Faust Goethe's "Faust" could be called a comedy as readily as it is subtitled "A Tragedy." In the course of the play, the author finds comic or ironic ways to either mock or punish religionists, atheists, demons, and deities. Despite the obvious differences between these, Goethe unites them all by the common threads of ego and ridiculousness. Thus, the play as a whole becomes more of a commentary against absurdity than against religion. The first victims of satire in Faust are Satan and God, who appear in somewhat small-scale form in an early scene that parallels the Book of Job....   [tags: Faust Essays]

Research Papers
596 words (1.7 pages)

Faust and the Juxtaposition of Good and Evil Essay

- In “Faust Part One”, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, uses different characters in his play, like God, Mephistopheles, and Gretchen to portray the juxtaposition of good and bad. We are introduced to Faust, who as a mere human makes mistakes throughout the play under some influence of the devil. Therefore it is difficult to write him off as a completely evil being. However, Destro’s argument is extremely useful in helping to interpret Faust’s character in a very levelheaded manner. Destro believes that Faust is a tragic hero for the purposes of the play, but as a person Faust is bad because of his actions and lack of enlightenment up until the near end of his life....   [tags: Literary Analysis, Ethics]

Research Papers
1842 words (5.3 pages)

The Role of Gretchen in Goethe´s Faust Essay examples

- In Goethe's Faust the two main characters are seen as male figures, one being indeterminable. Despite this books blatant masculine centric view the book could easily be used by modern Feminist as a feminist view of Goethe's society. As for the novel being used by the feminist movement, their purpose would be to show how women were/ are seen versus how they truly are. Generations of readers and critics of Faust I have seen Gretchen as a sign of selfless, idealized femininity, who will ultimately lead to the redemption of Faust....   [tags: modern feminist, gender system, sexuality]

Research Papers
790 words (2.3 pages)

The Ultimate Sin Exposed in Geothe's Faust Essay

- Geothe's Faust is similar in many ways to both Dante's Inferno and Milton's Paradise Lost. The obvious similarity is how each work relates to evil or Hell. Other similarities include how the villains of two of these epics are the most likable characters, and the use of classical and Christian mythology in each poem. Faust deals with evil when he makes a deal with Mephistopheles, or Satan. This deal is that Mephistopheles will give Faust whatever he wants in return for his (Faust's) soul. Inferno is a journey through Hell....   [tags: Geothe Faust]

Research Papers
1959 words (5.6 pages)

Historical References to Faust Essay example

- Historical References to Faust Faust I 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....   [tags: Faust History Literature Essays]

Research Papers
1682 words (4.8 pages)

Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Essay

- 1. Faust is a play written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe . He published part I of the tradgedy in 1808, and Part II was published in 1832. The play was originally written in the German language. In summary, an old scholar, Faust is dissatisfied and yearns to comprehend not just all knowledge, but all experience. In such a quest, Faust makes a bargain with a spirit named Mephistopheles. The pact provides for the loss of Faust's soul in the event that Mephistopheles should provide him with any sensuous experience to his liking....   [tags: tragedies]

Free Essays
336 words (1 pages)

Essay about Faust

- Faust This Book has many shady characters, only Gretchen is the one character you can feel sorry for, that is what makes this tragedy so horrifying yet gratifying .Her and Faust running around makes you happy, but you anticipate them to fall desperately into love with one another and finish their lives indulging with Mephisto. But this pure untainted soul is tricked into leaving behind the innocence of her youth and subsiding to the evil one for the promise of riches and a better life. So once again you have no one to root for, because although you understand Faust’s predicament he’s getting what he wanted....   [tags: essays papers]

Free Essays
958 words (2.7 pages)

Related Searches

Goethe's opinion can be seen when Mephistopheles says:

The Church has an excellent appetite

She has swallowed whole countries and the question

Has never risen of indigestion

Only the Church can take

Ill-gotten goods without stomach-ache!


When Gretchen is in the church and being taunted by the Evil Spirit and faints shows more of Goethe's feelings. Religion is supposed to help you through your problems and make you feel better. In Gretchen's case religion is actually hurting her more because she feels so bad that she went against her beliefs and she didn't know anything else. The church is also supposed to be forgiving but Gretchen and other girls like her are looked down on by others in the community. In effect both the church and religion are supposed to help but neither do. Goethe's opinions are present in many scenes throughout Faust. Goethe gives many examples of good and evil for us to compare. Mephistopheles, Gretchen, and the witches all stand for Goethe's opinions on different subjects. He also shows that he doesn't trust the church or religion. Throughout the play he also shows that you have to know some evil in order to know good.

Return to