Raphael is one of the Lord's angels. He appears in the "Prologue in Heaven." He sings of the majesty of God's creation and the cycles of the sun.
Gabriel is one of the Lord's angels. He appears in the "Prologue in Heaven" and sings of God's creation and the cycles of day and night.
Michael is one of the Lord's angels. He appears in the "Prologue in Heaven" and sings of God's creation and the cycles of storms and weather.
Mephistopheles is the play's antagonist. He plays both the parts of tempter and devil, as well as those of court jester and comedian. Mephistopheles makes a deal with the Lord to tempt Faust, and Faust wagers that Mephistopheles will not be able to show him an eternal moment that would ever satisfy his thirst for knowledge. Through a series of tricks and deceits, Mephistopheles confounds Faust's quest for love and eventually secures his damnation and eternal suffering as the Devil's servant.
The Lord appears in the "Prologue in Heaven." The Lord makes a deal with Mephistopheles for Faust's soul and allows the devil to tempt Faust in order to prove that he will remain faithful to God.
Faust is the play’s protagonist. He is a scholar and alchemist falls into despair because he feels as though he has exhausted the limits of his knowledge. He feels that he will only become complete if he can fuse his life with nature and the universe. In order to find this higher knowledge, Faust makes a wager with the devil Mephistopheles. Faust soon finds his eternal moment in his love for a young girl, Gretchen, whom he then tempts away from her religious and moral life. Faust's relationship ends in tragedy with Gretchen killing their child and falling into madness. Faust thus becomes damned never to experience the true knowledge of love that he seeks.
The Earth Spirit is one of the main spirits of the play. It appears to Faust in his study and represents the goodness of the higher powers of nature and the universe.
Wagner is Faust's companion in the first third of the play. Wagner is a scholar who sees no reason to venture outside of books and learning into the realms of the natural and spiritual as Faust desires. Wagner represents the academic context that Faust desperately seeks to escape.
The Manager appears in the scene "Prelude in the Theater." He represents the practical side of art and drama as he goads the Dramatic Poet and the Comic Clown into performing the Faust story in a way that draws in an audience and entertains them while enlightening them as well.
The Poet appears in the scene "Prelude in the Theater." The Poet represents the artistic side of the theater. He is more concerned with the artistic autonomy and authenticity of the drama than with the entertainment value or practical staging of the work of the theater.
The Comedian, or Clown, appears in the scene "Prelude in the Theater." The Comedian represents the entertainment value of drama. The Comedian's argument is that theater should take people away from their everyday worlds and present them with spectacle and passion.
Gretchen is a peasant girl with whom Faust falls madly in love. Gretchen represents the religious and moral society of common German life against which Faust is compared. Their relationship is destined for tragedy from the start as Faust tempts Gretchen away from her moral life. After bearing his child, she commits infanticide, for which she goes to prison and is executed for her crimes.
Martha is Gretchen's neighbor who provides the means by which Mephistopheles is able to concoct Faust and Gretchen's love affair. Mephistopheles weaves a lie about the death of Martha's husband in order to bring the two together, and Martha facilitates Gretchen's fantasies of love with Faust.
Valentine is Gretchen's brother and a soldier returning home from war. He receives word of his sister's sexual indiscretion, and when he meets Faust, they fight. Faust fatally wounds Valentine, and as he dies, Valentine insults and damns his sister for her indiscretion. His blasphemy represents the violent fissure of modern society from the religious and social spheres of Christendom.
The Student appears in Faust's study to learn under Faust's tutelage. Mephistopheles impersonates Faust and tempts the student into a libertine life. The Student shows how easily one can be tempted away from the dull life of academics and learning.
The Witch first appears in her cavern, brewing a concoction that initiates Faust's burning passion for Gretchen.
Frosch is a character in the scene "Auerbach's Cellar." He is in love with a girl that refuses to reciprocate and represents the first year student's naivete.
Brander is a character in the scene "Auerbach's Cellar." Brander teases Frosch about his love affair. He displays the disillusionment of sophomore students in the academic environment.
Altmayer is a character in the scene "Auerbach's Cellar." He represents the older or former students of a university.
Siebel is the bartender in "Auerbach's Cellar."
Goethe’s Faust Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Goethe’s Faust is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
Goethe sees in Nature the true spiritual and moral foundations of humanity. Humanity's depraved condition comes not from some innate sinfulness, but from a disconnection with the spiritual and divine aspects of Nature. Only a return to these true...