Faust Topics for Discussion

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.
This section contains 514 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)

The original version of Faust was written in Goethe's native German. In the introduction, Kaufmann discusses the issues that have come about due to faulty translations or through the editorializing of the translators. Also, the translations from German into English and other languages have often wrecked the beauty of the prose, creating a loss of context, syntax, and meter. Discuss Kaufmann's opinion on the translations of Goethe's work. Do you agree or disagree? Translate a passage from the original German to see if it matches the text in the book. Was it changed to create a different context or meter? Explain.

Discuss the history of Faust. Who was Dr. Johann Faust? When was he born? Did he live in Germany? What are the similarities between the actual person and the character created by Goethe? Did Faust dabble in the black arts? Is there any proof that Faust made a pact with the devil? When and how did Faust leave the university? What is Faust's legacy? Explain.

Faust becomes mad with grief when he learns about the death of his baby and Gretchen's imprisonment. Mephisto says that Gretchen is not the only one. What does Mephisto mean by that comment? Were there other mothers that killed their illegitimate children? What happened to the others? How does this fact help or hinder Gretchen's case? What does Faust say in response to Mephisto's uncaring comment? What happens to Gretchen?

Why does the great Dr. Faust make a pact with the devil? How does the offer come about? Whose idea was it? What is the basis of the pact? Is Faust able to change his mind after the pact is made? Why is it important that the pact be sealed with Faust's blood? What does Faust expect to receive from the pact?

Goethe pays homage to the Eternal Feminine at the end of Faust's tale. Examine in detail the concept of the Eternal Feminine and why Goethe felt it was important for it to save Faust. Also examine Faust's use of Mater Gloriosa, Magna Peccatrix, Mulier Samaratina, and Maria Aegyptica. Also discuss why Goethe thought it was necessary to add biblical citations to the names of the women.

Discuss Mephisto. Who is Mephisto? Why does Goethe refer to Mephisto by this more familiar name in the dialogue but refers to him as Mephistopheles elsewhere? What other names are used in the text to refer to Mephisto? What other names are commonly used to describe the demon? What human characteristics does Mephisto exhibit? What elements of Mephisto's behavior may seem to be inferior to the all powerful deity Mephisto was destined to become? Explain.

Discuss the concept of souls. What is a soul? How, why and where does it exist? What substance makes up a soul? Is a soul a purely religious concept? How is a soul defined in the text? Why is it important for a person's soul to be claimed or saved after death? What happens if a soul is not claimed? Discuss the nature of Faust's soul and what happens to it in the end.

This section contains 514 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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