Faust Setting & Symbolism

This Study Guide consists of approximately 33 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Faust.
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Heaven/Hell

Heaven and Hell are the final resting places for souls that have left their human forms after death. Unlike many famous pieces of literature, the existence of Heaven and Hell is never questioned.

Heaven is painted as being the ultimate paradise. There is no suffering, pain or misery. This is the home of God the Creator, a place where the streets are paved with gold and angels sing while playing harps. It is the ideal concept of Utopia. Hell, on the other hand, is often depicted as being a fiery pit where tormented souls must relive their tortured lives throughout eternity while being forced to do Mephisto's will.

The Prelude in Heaven details the deal made between the Lord and Mephistopheles. At the time, Heaven is the home of the Heavenly Host and all related entities including the Virgin Mary, Jesus, and the archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. At this point, Mephistopheles is still one of the Lord's servants - he has not yet been cast out of Heaven. However, if Mephisto succeeds in capturing the souls then he will take them to a place where they will wallow in misery for eternity. This place will be Hell.

Soul

The soul is the ultimate prize for both the Lord and Mephisto. Early in the story, during Prelude in Heaven, the Lord and Mephisto make a bet regarding Faust's soul. The Lord believes that Faust can be saved until his dying breath but worries that Faust has corrupted his soul with his fascination and practice with the black arts. Mephisto says it will be easy to sway Faust and turn him away from the Lord. If Mephisto is right, he will take possession of Faust's soul and take it to Hell where Faust will serve as an eternal slave.

In the story it is possible to interchange "soul" with "spirit." The soul is the part of a person that continues to exist after death and the nature of the soul determines if the person's soul will ascend into Heaven to enjoy the Kingdom of the Lord or if it will be cast into Hell to bear the tortures rendered by Mephistopheles.

There is a question regarding salvation at hand. Is it possible for a soul to be corrupt and still make it into Heaven? The Lord says repentance before death can save a soul. Mephistopheles believes that a soul once corrupted will not repent and cannot be so easily cleansed.

Faust's Palace

Faust's Palace becomes his domain as well as his prison. Faust has become the wealthiest man in Germany and takes pride in his ownership of the land as well as his tremendous wealth.

Germany

Goethe's Faust takes place in Germany. The original text was written in German, which was Goethe's native language. There are few specific references to landmarks and places aside from the Harz Mountains, Leipzig, Elend, and Schierke.

Dungeon

The dungeon is the place Gretchen is held after killing her baby. Gretchen must wait in the dungeon until it is time for her to face the hangman. It is also the location where Faust finds and attempts to reclaim Gretchen. However, Gretchen dies before Faust can take her away.

Nature

Nature is the place where Faust attempts to seek solace. Faust believes that he is most connected to the earth spirit and that it can be found in nature.

Faust's Den

Faust's den is the place where Faust spent nearly every waking hour before meeting Mephisto. The Gothic den was Faust's prison as well as his place of solace. It is located in the school where Faust taught.

Walpurgis Night

Walpurgis Night is the annual festival and spring rite. In the story it is held in the Harz Mountains. Faust and Mephisto attend the ritual as a means of distraction and to mingle with other creatures of the night.

Elend and Schierke

This is the region in which Walpurgis Night is held. It is located in the Harz Mountains of Germany. It is a rural region which may have been chosen by Goethe because the translation for Elend is "misery".

Harz Mountains

Harz Mountains are the location of the Walpurgis Night activities attended by Faust and Mephisto.

This section contains 702 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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