Faust, Parts 1 and 2 By Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Summary and Analysis Part 1: A Street

Summary

Faust objects to Mephisto's scheme, protesting that they cannot lie about the death of a man they have never even seen. The devil presses him to consent anyway. He points out that Faust, as a scholar, often made definitive statements about matters in which he had no precise knowledge. Faust sees through this sophistry, but finally agrees to the ruse.

Analysis

Faust knows full well that there is a difference between premeditated lies and innocent errors caused by ignorance, but he is beginning to lose faith in all human moral responsibility. In addition, Mephisto has convinced him that he is really at base motivated by animal instincts and his moral protests are a poor attempt at rationalization. He accepts Mephisto's plan, despite his initial reservations, because of his desperate need to find love and give his life meaning, but at the same time Faust is overwhelmed by skepticism about whether any such positive values really exist.

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At the beginning of Part Two, what solution does Mephistopheles, dressed as a jester, give for the kingdom's financial problems?




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