Goethe's Faust


Goethe's Faust has inspired a great deal of literature, music, and illustration.

Walter Kaufmann asserts that "Goethe created a character [i.e. Faust] who was accepted by his people as their ideal prototype."[3]

Although today many of the classical and Central European themes may be hard for the modern reader to grasp, the work remains a resonant parable on scientific learning and religion, passion and seduction, independence and love, as well as other subjects. In poetic terms, Goethe places science and power in the context of a morally interested metaphysics. Faust is a scientific empiricist who is forced to confront questions of good and evil, God and the devil, sexuality and mortality.

The German language has itself been influenced by Goethe's Faust, particularly by the first part. One example of this is the phrase "des Pudels Kern," which means the real nature or deeper meaning of something (that was not evident before). The literal translation of "des Pudels Kern" is "the core of the poodle," and it originates from Faust's exclamation upon seeing the poodle (which followed him home) turn into Mephistopheles. Another instance originates in the scene wherein Gretchen asks Faust if he is religious. In German, the word "Gretchenfrage" (literally "Gretchen question") refers to a question aiming at the core of the issue, often forcing the answering person to make a confession or a difficult decision.[4]

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