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Faust. First Part Chapter Summary & Analysis - A Gloomy Day. Open Country, Night. In Open Country and A Prison Summary

This Study Guide consists of approximately 34 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Faust. First Part.
This section contains 740 words
(approx. 3 pages at 300 words per page)

A Gloomy Day. Open Country, Night. In Open Country and A Prison Summary

Faust rebukes Mephistopheles as he learns about Gretchen's pregnancy and her imprisonment. He first commands Mephistopheles to set Gretchen free. When he learns this is not possible he asks Mephistopheles to take him to Gretchen so he can set her free himself. Mephistopheles agrees saying that if Faust frees Gretchen he can carry them both to safety. In the next brief scene Faust and Mephistopheles watch as a guild of witches performs a ritual over the gallows where Gretchen is to be killed.

In the final scene of the play Faust goes to see Gretchen in prison with the intent of setting her free. Faust listens as Gretchen sings a meaningless song intended to help her determine who caused her current plight. When Faust enters the cell, Gretchen believes he is one of the guards coming to take her to the gallows. Even when Gretchen stands face to face with Faust and begs for her life, she does not recognize her lover. She asks permission to feed her baby before being killed, but then in the next breath tells Faust she has been told she killed her baby.

Faust calls Gretchen's name. Although Gretchen recognizes his voice she still does not realize it is Faust in the cell with her. Faust finally convinces Gretchen he is there but cannot get her to come with him to safety. Gretchen babbles in a senseless manner about the death of her child and her mother. She takes Faust's hand, but believes there is blood on it. Faust tries to convince Gretchen she will be safe if she comes with him but she refuses to follow, saying there is no hope for her anymore. She asks Faust to go to the pond where she drowned her baby in order to save him. Faust attempts to carry her from the cell but she resists. At this point Mephistopheles appears to tell Faust he must leave the cell now or he will be caught. Gretchen sees the evil man and believes he has come for her. Mephistopheles' final declaration is that Gretchen is doomed. A voice from above, from heaven it is assumed, responds that the girl is redeemed.

A Gloomy Day. Open Country, Night. In Open Country and A Prison Analysis

Faust is distraught when he learns the fate of his lover. He is angry Mephistopheles has hidden the truth from him and demands Mephistopheles free Gretchen. Again in his lack of power, Mephistopheles is unable to free the girl, only to take Faust to her. When Faust enters Gretchen's cell, it is obvious she has become mentally unstable during her ordeal. She babbles to Faust, first saying she wants to feed her baby, then admitting to him she has killed her baby. In a scene that reminds one of Shakespeare's "Hamlet" Gretchen visualizes bloodstains on Faust's hands. These "stains" probably come from Faust's role in the murder of Gretchen's brother.

Note there are many allusions to a wedding in the text as Gretchen waits for her death. She compares her expectant waiting to that which should have occurred on her wedding day, a day no longer in her future. She will not enjoy this day obviously because she is about to be put to death, but also because she has been found to have been involved in sexual relations before her wedding. For this reason, her wedding garland, the flowers that should have decorated her during her wedding, are taken away from her in a public ceremony. When Mephistopheles appears at the end of the day, Gretchen is upset he is there saying the day is supposed to be sacred. One generally thinks of a wedding as sacred, not a public execution. Gretchen may again be referring to her own wedding, or even her reunion with Christ in heaven where she will become part of the symbolic bride of Christ.

Notice that even though Gretchen does not appear to be completely of a sound mind, she takes full responsibility for her actions. She admits she was fully consenting in her relationship with Faust. She also states that she gave her mother the sleeping potion so that they could enjoy each other's company in the bedroom without her mother's interference. Gretchen seems to be content to go to her death, knowing that the remainder of her life has been ruined by the decisions she has made.

This section contains 740 words
(approx. 3 pages at 300 words per page)
Copyrights
Faust. First Part from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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