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Faust, Parts 1 and 2

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Summary and Analysis Part 1: A Shrine in the Ramparts


At a shrine of the Mater Dolorosa located in a niche in the city wall, Gretchen makes an offering of flowers and seeks consolation for her sorrows. Gretchen's prayer reveals the full extent of her anguish. She pleads for divine mercy, crying:

Save me from shame and death in one!
Ah, bow down,
Thou of the woeful crown,
Thy gracious face on me undone.


Several months have gone by and Faust has deserted Gretchen. The vague premonitions of impending downfall that she felt in the last scene have now become more acute. Confused and frightened by the things she has experienced, Gretchen instinctively seeks solace from the "Mother of Sorrows." In a symbolic sense Gretchen is now a "mother of sorrows" herself, since she bears Faust's child within her.