Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Writing Styles in Faust. First Part

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.
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Point of View

When dealing with a play, it is hard to determine a specific point of view through which the story is told. Each players' lines are their own words and thoughts, so in that way the play is told through the first person point of view of each character as they get their own individual turn to speak.

The story is told almost entirely through dialogue. The few exceptions include stage directions and brief descriptions of sets. Although this work was intended to be acted out in front of an audience, actions are not a big key in understanding the play. Therefore, this play is just as meaningful as one reads the script as a piece of literature as it would be if seen acted.

Setting

Since this is a play, settings are obviously very important to those wishing to reproduce the work. The setting for each scene is indicated at the beginning of the scene. Example of scenes include heaven, Faust's study, the countryside outside the town walls, Gretchen's room, the witch's kitchen and the jail where Gretchen is imprisoned.

It is indicated by the "Prelude on the Stage" that the play is being acted out in a playhouse somewhere in Germany. In a scene that occurs outside the town wall, one of the townspeople speaks of going to Burgdorf, a town located in Hanover, Germany. This reference indicates the play may be set in a town in Germany, but the name of this town is never given. Leipzig, the location of the tavern that Faust and Mephistopheles visit, is also a town in Germany.

Language and Meaning

The difficulties in understanding this work come mostly from the form the writer chooses as well as the many allusions and other literary techniques he uses in his writing. The play is written in dramatic poetry, the form of a poem with a distinct meter and rhyme scheme. It is important to remember that this work has been translated from German so much of the original beauty and beat of Geothe's work is lost when it is translated. Good translations try to follow the original meter and often complex rhyme scheme. Although the work is divided into lines, it is important to read the lines just as one would read a prose work, not pausing at the line breaks. There is one exception in which Geothe writes one scene of Faust in prose. This one exception is the 26th scene that just before the end of the play.

Structure

This work is structured as a play with only one act. In this play there are twenty-eight scenes including a dedication, a prelude and a prologue. Each scene bears a title that indicates either where the action of the scene takes place or the location of the action of the scene. For instance, the first scene is simple entitled "Night." The reader later learns this scene is the night before Easter. Although it is not specified it is understood the action takes place in Faust's study. Most other scenes indicate exactly where the action takes place. For instance the eighth scene takes place in Auerbach's Tavern in Leipzig, as stated in the title of the scene.

The main plot of the novel involves the battle for Faust's soul and Faust's pact with the devil. The plot widens to include Gretchen and impact Faust has on her in his attempt to find joy in the base pleasures of life. The play flows well with all action occurring in the present. It is a very dramatic piece with little of the folly the clown requests in the prelude. There are scenes, such as the one with the witch and the baboons, which lighten the mood of the play. In its entirety it is a very serious play which deals with the serious topic of faith and belief in God.

This section contains 642 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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