Faust. First Part - Study Guide A Street, A Garden, A Summerhouse, and A Forest Cavern Summary & Analysis

This Study Guide consists of approximately 25 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Faust. First Part.
This section contains 828 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)

A Street, A Garden, A Summerhouse, and A Forest Cavern Summary

Mephistopheles tells Faust his meeting with Gretchen is all set up. The only condition is that Faust back Mephistopheles' story about Martha's husband's death. Faust at first refuses to lie. Mephistopheles reminds Faust it will not be the first lie he has ever told. He also suggests Faust's vows of love to Gretchen will be lies. Faust argues with him but in the end agrees that he has no choice in the matter but to lie to Martha.

The scene "A Garden" begins with Faust and Gretchen walking together. Gretchen is surprised that Faust should take notice of her. Meanwhile Martha and Mephistopheles walk together. Martha questions Mephistopheles about his occupation and warns him not to be a bachelor when the time comes for him to die. The action passes back to Faust and Gretchen. Gretchen tries to convince him that as soon as they are away from each other, he will forget her. She vows, however, that she will think of him often because she has plenty of spare time to spend thinking about him.

Gretchen shares with Faust a few details about her life. She has a brother who is a soldier. Her father is dead. She had a little sister whom she raised who is now also dead. During the time she was raising her sister, Gretchen was also responsible for cooking, shopping and cleaning because her mother was sick.

The scene passes back to Martha and Mephistopheles where Martha appears to be trying to seduce Mephistopheles. He tells Martha he has not even been serious with a woman because "trifling with ladies is a serious crime." Action turns back to Faust and Gretchen as they discuss the day they met outside the church. Gretchen admits before that day she had never had a man approach her in that manner before. She asks forgiveness for her rudeness. Gretchen then picks a daisy and begins pulling off each petal. With each petal she alternates between the phrases "He loves me" and "He loves me not" until the last petal reveals to her that Faust does indeed love her. Faust declares the daisy is correct. That he will love her forever. Martha and Mephistopheles finish the scene as Martha apologizes for not asking Mephistopheles to stay longer. She blames her actions on her nosy neighbors. They agree that it appears both Gretchen and Faust have found their true loves.

The scene "A Summerhouse" opens with Gretchen and Faust involved in flirtatious play. Mephistopheles interrupts their play and tells them it is time to go. Faust and Gretchen say their loving farewells. After Faust and Mephistopheles leave, Gretchen again shows wonder that Faust could find her interesting.

In "A Forest Cavern" Faust addresses a spirit whom he believes has sent him his current happiness. He is awed that he has already fallen so deeply in love with Gretchen and that he already finds her such an essential part of his life. He notes, however, Mephistopheles' ability to degrade and turn sour his happiness. Mephistopheles enters and starts to irritate Faust. He warns Faust soon he will take his affections for Gretchen too far. He tells Faust how Gretchen is sitting waiting for Faust to come to her, wanting him. Faust begs Mephistopheles to stop tormenting him. Faust admits that he is even jealous of Christ as the figurative Body of Christ touches Gretchen's lips as she takes communion. Mephistopheles asks if Faust plans to sleep in his own bed or Gretchen's. He encourages Faust to go to Gretchen.

A Street, A Garden, A Summerhouse, and A Forest Cavern Analysis

Notice that often in this sequence of scenes the devil is caught saying a double-sided statement. For instance, he tells Faust they must lie to Martha about the circumstances of her husband's death. When Faust refuses because it is wrong to lie, the devil convinces Faust otherwise. Perhaps a better example of the Mephistopheles' double-sidedness is the garden scene where Faust successfully woos Gretchen. Meanwhile, Martha tries to seduce Mephistopheles, an action Mephistopheles claims to Martha is wrong. However, this act of messing around with an unmarried woman is the very one he is trying to encourage in Faust and Gretchen.

Also interesting in this section is the contrast between the real wooing of Gretchen by Faust and the parody of this wooing between Martha and Mephistopheles. The scene switches back and forth between the two couples so that one gets first a view of Gretchen and Faust growing closer, then a glimpse of Mephistopheles trying to dodge Martha's attempts to court him. It is already known that Mephistopheles thinks little of Martha. As Mephistopheles says earlier in the play, most humans are so stupid they don't recognize the devil when they meet him face to face. In this case, Martha is actually trying to seduce the devil.

This section contains 828 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
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