Faust. First Part - By A Shrine Inside The Town Wall, Night. The Street Outside Gretchen's Door, and A Cathedral 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 403 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)


Gretchen bows before an icon of the Virgin Mary and begs mercy for her crimes. She acknowledges that Mary is one who can understand her pain. Gretchen cries ceaselessly for her sins. In the following scene Gretchen begins to realize the results of her actions. Gretchen's brother, Valentine, is distraught when he learns what has happened to his sister. As Valentine stands in the street outside Gretchen's house, he hears Faust and Mephistopheles approach. Faust has come to visit Gretchen and has brought her a new necklace. Valentine moves to protect his sister's honor and is killed during a sword fight between himself, and Mephistopheles and Faust. Before he dies Valentine tell his sister he knows her secret. He calls her a whore and slut, and tells her the whole town will soon have her. Valentine also calls for a curse upon Gretchen until the day she dies.

The heaviness of Gretchen's sin increases even more when she attends a mass for the dead. An evil spirit appears and torments Gretchen with the death of her mother as well as the murder of her brother. The choir in the scene sings in Latin about God's day of judgments and the punishments of the wicked. Gretchen feels as if the walls of the cathedral are closing in around her. She passes out.


Gretchen identifies with the Virgin Mary because like the Virgin Mary, Gretchen is now pregnant out of wedlock. This scene shows how deeply Gretchen feels fear and dread as a result of the coming punishments for her actions. Gretchen seems most afraid her mistake will doom her to hell. In the following scene, Gretchen begins to feel the heaviness of her crime as she hears her own brother curse her. Valentine dies in an attempt to defend Gretchen's honor, however, he appears to be certain that what he has heard is true.

In the cathedral scene it becomes obvious that Gretchen's mother died as a result of the sleeping potion she was given. Although it is a mass for the dead that Gretchen attends, it is uncertain if the mass is specifically for her mother and brother, or just the dead in general. Note there is an evil spirit that adds to Gretchen's pain by tormenting her with images of hell and God's judgment.

This section contains 403 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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