Johann Wolfgang Goethe was the most outstanding representative of the Enlightenment in Germany at the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. About himself, he wrote: “I have a tremendous advantage due to the fact that I was born in an era when the greatest world events took place.” His great experience as a great poet, philosopher and thinker embodied in the genius tragedy “Faust”. The poet created a genius parable about Man, his duty, vocation, mission on Earth.
The content of the tragedy was based on the German legend of the 16th century about the sorcerer and warlock Faust, who concluded a treaty with the devil, but the author put modern content into his work. In the tragedy, fantastic and real-everyday scenes are interspersed, which equally contribute to the discovery of Goethe’s creative plan.
The beginning of the tragedy consists of two prologues: “Prologue in the Theater” and “Prologue in Heaven”. In the first prologue the poet expresses his views on art, speaks of the impossibility for a talented artist to combine true creativity with obtaining money. In the second prologue, the author uses images of Christian mythology to give the beginning of the story of his hero, but he puts enlightenment in them.
The author creates a hypothetical picture of events in heaven when the fate of a person is decided. Before the Lord appears Mephistopheles and expresses his opinion about man, considering
While still in the darkness he wanders,
But the truth he will be illuminated by a ray…
Between the rulers of Good and Evil there is a dispute about the soul of Faust: who will it get to? What will the hero choose? If it follows the path of good, God will win, if he chooses evil, he will confirm the devil’s opinion of people. Celestials argue for the soul of one of the best representatives of the human race.
Faust devoted his whole life to science, studied the mountains of books, unsuccessfully tried to find in them the answers to complex questions of being. The scientist understands that he has reached a dead end, is hard to survive his helplessness. Faust denied himself everything: he does not have a family and children, he spent every minute of his life to get closer to the truth, and that’s all in vain! Having lost the meaning of life, Faust decides to commit suicide, intends to drink poison, but at the last minute the devil appears before him, who promises to show the scientist such worlds and miracles that no mortal has seen, to reveal the secrets of the universe. Mephistopheles offers him exactly what an ordinary person can not get in this world. Faust agrees.
First, Mephistopheles experiences a person with gross temptations. He leads him to the cellar, where everyone drinks and has fun. Faust with indignation rejects such a stupid burning of life in a drunken intoxication. Then the devil tests him, showing him a lovely clean girl to Margaret. Faust, who spent his whole life among books, can not resist and tempts her.
Goethe realistically depicts the German town, the mores of its inhabitants, the harsh patriarchal foundations of morality. Margarita is a simple, modest girl. And she herself, and the way of her family very much like Faust, in Marguerite he sees the ideal to which he aspires. But to marry and forever to stay in a wretched place means for Faust the end of his creative search. He refuses Margarita, and all the residents, who yesterday considered the girl to be the most devout and decent, attack her with accusations of violating the moral principles.
Margarita turns away with contempt everything, she kills her child, goes to prison, where she is waiting for execution. So she pays for her love. In a half-mad state, she accepts the appearing Faust for the executioner, who came to execute her. In horror she begs him for mercy. Margarita was the victim of the world to which she belonged. Faust blames himself, he now understands the degree of responsibility of each person to other people.
Mephistopheles shows Faust other worlds. He carries the hero to the palace of the emperor, to test him with temptation by authority. But even this did not satisfy Faust. Then they get to Ancient Greece for the beautiful Helen, which also leaves the hero indifferent. By agreement with Mephistopheles, Faust, having found her ideal, must exclaim: “Stop, moment, you are fine!” – and then the devil can rightly take his soul. So far, nothing Faust could not say. They continue to search, go a long way. Already a century old man blinded Faust finds the truth:
Only he is worthy of life and freedom,
who every day for them goes to battle.
Faust understood that true happiness is to live for others, to benefit the people, the country, to work constantly. He dreams of building a city, won by the sea by the sea, for millions of honest workers:
All my life in the struggle of the harsh, uninterrupted
Child, and the husband and the elder let him lead,
So that I see in the brilliance of the power of the brave
Free land, free my people!
In his immortal work, Goethe showed the tragedy of man’s spiritual quest, which can last a lifetime. Man, in his opinion, should be directed to the future, should seek, dare, do not despair. Only then will his life be filled with meaning.