Faust, Parts 1 and 2 By Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Summary and Analysis Part 2: Act I: A Dark Gallery

Summary

Faust and Mephistopheles converse privately. The Emperor has asked Faust to invoke the spirits of Paris and Helen of Troy, but Faust needs the help of Mephisto to fulfill this request.

The devil is unable to offer any assistance. He suggests that Faust visit the "Eternal Mothers," mysterious spirits who are the source of all life and live in a grotto deep in the earth. Faust is suspicious of this advice, but Mephisto assures him that only by groping in emptiness and reaching through limitless space will he find what he seeks. Faust say3 he is not afraid and will search even in the Void to find the All.

Mephisto gives him a magical jeweled key and instructions for finding the Mothers. He describes their abode and tells Faust how to behave there. After Faust goes out, Mephisto expresses his doubt about whether the mission will be successful.

Analysis

This is the first time in Part Two that Faust and Mephisto are alone together. Mephisto's role in this scene indicates that he no longer exercises the active influence over Faust that he had in Part One, for Faust's visit to the Mothers will be his first independent enterprise since he began his association with the devil.

The superficiality of Christianity is suggested by Mephisto's inability to accompany Faust and his lack of power over Classical spirits, for he is a Christian devil. A religion which is unable to comprehend such basic elements of life, this implies, is not an adequate one. The Mothers are cosmic forces who symbolize the mystical essence of life which existed before man was ever created and which made his creation possible. They are the source of all form and being and it is important, to understand Goethe's philosophical thought, to note that they are feminine spirits. This femininity symbolizes the constant creative and generative force of the universe by virtue of which man and Nature exist, and which is reflected in all human and natural phenomena.

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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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