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Faust Chapter Summary & Analysis - Prelude in the Theatre Summary

This Study Guide consists of approximately 44 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Faust.
This section contains 924 words
(approx. 4 pages at 300 words per page)

Prelude in the Theatre Summary

The Prelude in the Theatre takes place between a Director, a Clown, and a Dramatic Poet.

The Director addresses the Clown and the Poet. The Director declares that the Clown and the Poet have been with him through thick and thin. The Director asks the men if it is possible to take their play and make it new somehow so that it will be received well in Germany. The Director hopes the theatre going crowd will be so enamored of the play that they will flock to the theatre as if they were starving and the behind the door there is a bounty of food.

"They fight and push each other, coax and vex,

And, as in famine time, for bread at baker's door,

To get a ticket almost break their necks."

(The Prelude in the Theatre, p. 71)

The Poet says that producing a play for the crowds is sure to cause the spirit to flee and will most likely cause the Poet to lose inspiration and quality in his work. Although the Poet is able to do as the Director asks, the Poet says that the play will surely suffer, whereas the genuine masterpiece will survive from age to age.

The Clown tells the Poet that the people care more about being entertained and not about the masterpiece. The Clown also claims that the people want to laugh and engage in foolery.

The Director follows that Clown's lead and says that he wants to see a great deal of action along with the comedy. By producing a play that pleases all the masses and all the classes the Poet shall gain notoriety and everyone will go home contented. There is no point in creating a masterpiece that will only be picked apart by the public.

The Poet continues to object and insults the Director.

The Director says he takes no offense at the Poet's words. The Director insists that the play is nothing more than a diversion for everyone from the fairest ladies to the rabble. Each wants only to be entertained in some way that will not require much effort. The Director also reminds the Poet that he is the one who pays the Poet's salary.

The Poet tells the Director to find another slave that he cannot use his gift to produce something that is beneath the level of his gift. To do so would squander the gift and thereby do a disservice to himself and mankind.

The Clown presents a solution. It is suggested that the Poet create a long and in-depth romantic story into which can be inserted the action, drama, comedy and tragedy so desired by the public. All will be content.

The Poet asks for the return of his youth when he was flush with love and the feelings experienced by a young man.

The Clown tells the Poet that he still has the ability to write as if he were young. Age is a state of mind and should not matter when one is young at heart.

The Director believes the matter is settled and tells the Clown and the Poet to get to work. While they discuss what needs to be done, someone else is writing the play.

Prelude in the Theatre Analysis

The Dedication can be seen as an epilogue in that it details the end of Faust's life and the realization of what he has done to gain his earthly desires and treasures.

Faust is at the end of his life. The devil is coming to collect Faust's soul; the souls that Faust gave up freely as a young man. Faust weeps for what he has lost and realizes that the things he longed for in his youth cannot compare to the things he should have cherished. Faust grieves for his decisions but faces the devil with readiness.

The conversation held between the Director, Poet and Clown is one that has been held a million times before in theatres all over the world. The Director needs a hit play. The last one was relatively successful, but there needs to be a new one that can succeed in Germany. If the Clown and the Poet cannot revive the play to thrill the audience, then a new one must be created.

The Poet is eager to create a masterpiece but tells the Director that he cannot be rushed. It takes time to create poetry for the stage. If one is rushed, then the lack of time and effort will show in the end product which defeats the entire purpose.

The Clown mocks the Poet for being so haughty about the process. The Clown only wants to please, to make people laugh and enjoy entertainment. The Poet is offended that his work should be viewed as no more than a lighthearted and purposeless comedic sketch.

The Director agrees with the Clown that there must be comedy and action. The Director reminds the Poet that he pays the Poet's salary and therefore the Poet will do as he is ordered. The Poet becomes angry and says that he will not demean himself. If the Director insists on going that route then he should find another slave.

After some discussion, there is a compromise of sorts. The Poet can create the type of play he wants to create with deep meaning and beautiful words and ideas. Inside that story will be opportunities for comedy, tragedy and action. The problem is solved and the men prepare to get to work.

This section contains 924 words
(approx. 4 pages at 300 words per page)
Copyrights
Faust 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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