Goethe's Faust - A Tragedy

Goethe's Faust - A Tragedy

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Faust: A Tragedy

 

Webster's Dictionary says that a tragedy is a lamentable, dreadful, or fatal event or affair, or a disaster. This word and the story Faust, by Goethe, go together very well due to the amount of calamities within the tale. For this reason the subtitle "A Tragedy" is appropriate. It is befitting because of Faust's alliance with the Devil, his actions along with the Devil and the fate of two of the main characters at the end of the story. Faust: A Tragedy is very deserving of the subtitle "A Tragedy".

It was definitely a tragedy that Faust allied himself with Mephisto. Whenever a person strays from the positive path of the Lord to the side of the Devil it is definitely something very negative. For ages people have been using the phrase, "he sold his soul to the Devil", with no positive connotation. Of course when this phrase was used it was just to say that that person was evil, not that they actually let Satan purchase their soul. That would be ridiculous, correct? Well that is exactly what happened in Faust's case. Due to his own flaw of not being satisfied with life itself, he strayed from the Lord and traded his soul for a higher form of entertainment. "Thinking's done with, for ever so long Learning and knowledge have sickened me....Bring on your miracles..." It is tragic when someone feels that they understand so much, or try to ignore so much to the point where they think that they should give their soul away with no fear of eternal damnation. Faust believes or tries to believe that there is no after life and that he can just trade away his life to the most evil being in existence with no repercussions. Falling from God and making the Devil his partner is something that deserves the title "a tragedy".

            While working with the Devil Faust did a number of evil things, some being quite tragic. It was already bad enough that Faust decided to play games with Mephistopheles, but it was worse when he decided he wanted to draw someone else into his sick deal. Faust, being overwhelmed with lust, felt that he needed to seduce and corrupt a young girl. "Get me that, do you hear, you must!" This is even worse when you consider that it was inevitable that he would succeed with the aid of Satan.

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He tricked her with stolen jewels and then tore her virginity, impregnating her with the mark of scandal and sin. It is disastrous when a young, pure-hearted, religious girl is seduced by a lusty man and his hellish companion. Faust even went a step further to make this young lady murder her mother in the pursuit of sexual relations. In most stories a tragic ending is one that involves a death, so with the death of Margarete's mother this is obviously a tragedy. Faust and Mephisto further fulfill the traditional definition of a literary tragedy by murdering Margarete's brother in cold blood. The companionship of Faust and Satan lead to many tragic actions.

            The end of Faust was a tragedy in a number of ways. Faust finds that his lover is in jail and is to be hung for having sex before marriage. When he goes to free her he also finds that her feelings for him are different and not as strong as they used to be. "I'm afraid of you, Heinrich, afraid!" Since all Faust could think about for awhile was his love, Margarete, this is a devastating change for him. Margarete also informs Faust that she drowned their child. How could that not be tragic? She also refuses to escape the prison with Faust and she and Faust have to accept that she is going to be killed. One would think that after all of the trouble that Mephistopheles had caused Faust, that Faust would leave him. That is what makes Faust once again leaving with the Lord of the Flies so tragic. The end of Faust: A Tragedy is tragic from a literary aspect and a religious aspect.

            Goethe makes sure that the subtitle "A Tragedy" is one that is correctly assigned. Faust is a tragedy in the traditional literary way and by way of the definition given in the dictionary. The term tragedy is fulfilled by Faust's contract with Satan, his behavior while with Satan, and by the fate of Faust and his lover. A tragedy? Yes, and what a tragedy it is.

 
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